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Lesko Financial: Couples and Managing Money

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Bryanna: Managing money can be a challenge for any couple, but there are particular issues for unmarrieds. Greg Lesko of Lesko Financial has some tips to help.

Greg: About half of American adults are unmarried today and there are 18 million unmarried people cohabitating. Making financial decisions such as buying property and paying bills can pose special concerns for unmarrieds. In addition to whatever else marriage represents, it’s also a legal contract, with some protections in the event of a split. Rules on dividing assets and property vary from state to state, so it’s a good idea to explore these legalities before taking the plunge and merging finances.   

Bryanna: What are some tips to avoid any pitfalls?   

Greg: It may be wiser for an unmarried couple to not have joint bank accounts since any person named on the account can clean it out at any time. Joint credit cards could become another problem. Be sure you know enough about your partner’s spending habits before opening credit accounts. Buying a house or even renting is another area with challenges for unmarrieds. If only one person is named on the title or the lease, the other can be left out in the cold literally.   

Bryanna:  Any other financial advice for unmarrieds?   

Greg: Couples thinking about cohabitating would be smart to have an open and honest “money talk” covering these issues plus income, spending and debt.
a written contract between the two before they move in together is also a good move. It can spell out who owns what, who pays for what, and what happens in case they go their separate ways.