It’s a big day when you decide to move in with your partner. You’re both full of the heady possibilities of new love, and you’re no doubt looking forward to a fabulous future of blissful breakfasts in bed and harmonious cohabitation.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Not only will you have to put up your partner’s flaws (and remember, you’ve got flaws of your own!), but there are a few practical things that you need to take care of before you collect the keys to your new pad. It’s a good idea to sort these things out early on, so they don’t become the wrecking ball of your relationship down the track.
When you hear the word ‘prenuptial’, do you shake your head and declare the wedding doomed? Many people think that a prenup is only for couples who are in it for the wrong reasons. But there are merits in setting out some sort of agreement – even if you’re just moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
For example, are you clear about how you’re going to split the bills? What about the groceries? And the housework? If you move in with someone only to discover that they don’t believe in doing their own laundry, it doesn’t take long for resentment to fester into something more.
Then there’s the thorny issue of your incomes. What if you earn a bucket-load more than your partner? If you’re planning to split the bills, will you be happy to live a more frugal life to match their meagre budget? This can be a thorny issue – and it’s always a good idea to talk it through thoroughly before you dive in under your shared doona cover.
Even if you’re moving-in agreement is scribbled on a napkin at the pub, at least you’ve talked about it. This is the first, crucial step in becoming aware of your partner’s needs and expectations, and making them aware of your own.
Does one of you own (or, at least, have a mortgage on) the home that you’ll be sharing? You’ll both need to think long and hard about what’s fair when it comes to rent and repayments. Or, if you are jumping straight in and buying a property together, you will need to have a big discussion about how to structure your home loan. Many couples like to take out the mortgage in both names, although this may depend on your financial histories.
In these conversations, make sure you acknowledge the elephant in the room. That is, the prospect of a break-up. What would happen if, one year down the track, you realise that they are not The One and you split up? Who gets the house? How do you make it fair and equitable?
When it comes to big things like home loans, mortgage repayments and home ownership, get it down in writing … and not just on a napkin. If you need help, get advice from your bank or financial or legal adviser.
When you move in together, everything you own is under the one roof, so it makes sense to have one insurance policy for your contents. Or does it?
In the early days of cohabitation, many couples choose to hold separate insurance policies for their own possessions. This is absolutely do-able – it’s pretty much the same thing as having renters’ insurance. But, you may find that combining your contents under the one policy will end up saving you money, in which case you’d be better off to hold a shared policy.
When it comes to the home itself, it depends whether you’re renting the property or are paying it off. As a renter, you don’t need to take out home building insurance. But if you’re paying it off, then it’s a great idea to protect your home against things like flood, fire or storm damage.
Moving in together is one thing. Bringing your finances together is another thing altogether. Taking out joint credit cards represents a huge step in a relationship, as you both become liable for what’s owing on the card. Given this, it’s not a great idea to take out joint credit cards the day you move in together. Wait a year or two and make sure that you trust your partner without reservation, and that you both hold similar goals about your finances.
Then, when you’re ready to take this financial leap, do your research to find a credit card that gives you both great benefits – like frequent flyer points or other rewards. After all, you might as well reap the benefits of having double the spending power, right?
Living with someone else isn’t easy, and it requires mutual respect, cooperation and understanding. If you hit a rocky patch, don’t despair. Strive to see your partner’s point of view, while asserting your own. If you’re meant to be together, you’ll work it out.
Any advice provided in this content is of a general nature and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You need to consider the appropriateness of any information or general advice we give you, having regard to your personal situation, before acting on our advice or purchasing any product.