The financial side of shacking up together

There are a few things a couple should consider before moving in together. The first is what to do if one of you owns a property.

Moving in together is an exciting and sometimes nerve-racking time for any young couple. Perhaps the least romantic discussion, apart from who will buy the toilet paper, will involve money.

Who will pay for what? What if one person's terrible with money? Will you open a joint account? What will happen if it all goes bad?

To give yourself the best chance, there are a few things you should consider before the big move. The first is what to do if one of you owns a property.

There are legal implications if you live together for more than two years, then part ways, family lawyer Gayle Meredith says. In this situation, neither party's assets will necessarily be protected, so drawing up a financial agreement (get legal advice) is a good idea.

There are other hard talks you should have before moving in, financial and relationship counsellor Bernie Bolger says.

"Try to have a talk about values," she suggests. "What are the deal-breakers? What was it like growing up in their family? Who managed the money? Who managed the decisions?"

Chatting about goals, such as travel, property ownership or children, is also important.

"It's more philosophical stuff, values. You can have real conversations, but not in a confrontational way."

When it comes to the practicalities, the seriousness of the relationship plays a part.

"I would say keep the finances separate until you know that it's a long-term relationship, otherwise it gets really messy," Bolger says.

If you do take out a joint account, individual discretionary accounts can help keep a feeling of freedom, she says.

After the tough conversations are over, drawing up a budget might be the easy part. If you don't agree on everything, that's ok. It's all about "learning to communicate, and trying to get into the other person's shoes", Bolger says.

This article was originally published by the Sydney Morning Herald on 8 November 2015. This article represents the views of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the views of AMP.

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