Let’s talk about one of the biggest decisions you will ever make in your relationship… Making that first joint purchase. Yeah, we’re talking about money, one of the biggest foes in almost every relationship, so listen up.
Beyond the problem of how to split a couch or television, or create weekend hours for a puppy (if you break up) – we’d like to discuss what merging into a financial decision is actually saying.
Can You Afford This?
You may think that this question should go unsaid, but some partners will jump into one of these agreements with hopes that their “better half” will foot most of the bill. And I’ve never been one to sign myself up for Mommy-duty on a grown man. Ask about the salary if you don’t already know – and I’m talking about the full take-home pay after all the taxes and other possible debt have been deducted.
How Does Your Credit Look?
We’re not talking about a pack of gum here, but a much bigger purchase which requires a credit score to gain access to the funds to complete the purchase. This includes renting an apartment, buying a car/scooter, or building a home theater. If one of your credits is tanked, the purchase is going to have to be put under one name, and that could leave you in a bind should that person decide to quit paying their half. A persons credit actually says a lot about how your future might play out if you decide to stay with them.
Do You Have Any Debt?
Once you jump into financial cahoots with someone, you kind of put yourself in the line of fire of any other debt they may be nursing. I have seen this happen. Suddenly, you are not only sharing in the purchase of an apartment but helping to pay off their lease on a new car. It is wonderful to join forces to demolish debt as a couple… but you want to be sure that you are prepared “as a couple” to deal with it, and not fight about money or similar.
What Are the Goals of this Purchase?
Are you combining your paychecks to have some cool digs for a year or a really neat tv to share for a while… or… are you ready to begin making some serious long-term goals. Goals like buying and training a puppy, talking about vacation savings or retirement options. There are certain purchases that make more sense when you keep them on the shorter side of the long-term.
What Assets Do You Have to Backup this Purchase?
In other words, what happens if the sh** hits the fan. Things such as a medical situation, job loss, or God forbid, a breakup. Is there a nest egg in their savings, perhaps an emergency fund, maybe some stocks, real estate, or a baseball card collection that is worth a mint. I personally always like to have a backup plan in place when I am joining forces on a financial adventure. I always prefer to know what to expect if things don’t go quite as we planned.
Many decades ago, a couple would never dream of merging into a purchase unless they were married. Today, it has become a common commitment among couples who may only have a couple of months together under their belt. And that is absolutely okay so long as you understand (and discuss) each of these common pitfalls.