You’re in love and things are getting serious between the two of you. So serious that you ditched the roommates and moved in together. But then things begin to change. Your partner starts to withdraw and you wonder if things aren’t as great as you thought.
Nobody wants to think about their relationship heading to splitsville, but it’s important to protect your assets and take care of yourself, regardless of what happens in your love life.
Whether you are blissfully happy with your current relationship or feel the relationship grim reaper is around the corner, here’s how to protect your money and break-up proof your financial life.
1. Have a goodbye fund
You probably know you need an emergency fund to handle all of life’s unexpected surprises. But if you want to know how to protect your money, you also need a “goodbye fund.” The moment things turn sour, you want to be able to have the financial means to freely walk away.
To be clear, your goodbye fund should have enough money in it to pay for one month of rent and moving expenses so you can get out of town or take over the rent on your own, should your S.O. be the one to move out.
2. Keep tabs on your shared finances
Every couple manages their finances differently. Maybe you split things down the middle or divvy up expenses by percentages. Perhaps one of you pays the internet, while the other pays the electric bill. You’ll find a system that feels equitable to you, but if you break up, the whole system could go under.
It’s important to know the passwords for shared accounts, contact information and have a running tally of who pays what. If you suddenly split with your boyfriend – who happens to pay for all the utilities and has all the account information – you might be screwed. Or, worse, have to continuously ask for this information, making it tough to make a clean break.
3. Know what’s yours
As a couple, things move from “mine” and “yours” to “ours.” If you break up, things get a little murky.
Who gets to keep the furniture you bought together? Do you get to keep the place or will you both have to move out? Even though it’s tough, you want to have an idea of what’s yours, what’s theirs and what is simply not worth fighting over. If you’re breaking up, you want to start the healing process immediately; quibbling over who gets the night table or cocktail cart can get in the way.
4. Sign up for alerts
You’re camped out in the bed with Kleenex and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, mourning the loss of your relationship. It feels like someone ripped out your heart, put it in a blender and fed it to a dog, and all you can do to survive is eat your feelings and cry all the tears. The last thing on your mind is your finances, but if you want to know how to protect your money during a breakup, the key is in alerts.
Instead of relying on your memory to remember to pay bills, sign up for text message and email alerts to remind you of important due dates. You don’t want to forget to pay your student loans or miss a credit card payment, which could hurt your credit.
For bills that don’t have text or email alerts, create a recurring calendar reminder so you’re notified about important dates ahead of time.
5. Remove your ex from shared accounts
After moving in together, you probably have a lot of shared accounts. You might have both of your names on a lease for an apartment, shared credit cards, shared utilities and more.
Once you break up, it’s important to remove your ex from your shared accounts and protect your money. Though you think things can be civil during a split, sometimes emotions can take over and make things difficult. In order to protect your assets, you need to remove your ex from any shared accounts and change the passwords. You don’t want to be responsible for their behavior.
6. Understand your single budget
As a couple, you might benefit from sharing incomes and splitting expenses. At all times, you should know what your single budget is. In other words, how much does it cost to live on your own without your partner? What is your single budget (how much money do you need to make and what would your expenses be if you were single)?
It’s important to know these numbers; if you suddenly break up, you could be financially unprepared and scrambling. If you know you can handle your single budget, you can handle whatever comes your way.
Breakups are one of the toughest parts of the human experience. Don’t make your life any harder by not preparing for the possibility of a split. Instead, be proactive and know how to protect your money. Break up-proof your financial life so you can do what you need to and not worry about your finances.
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