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11 Financial Topics Cohabiting Couples Should Discuss

11 Financial Topics Cohabiting Couples Should Discuss

| March 11, 2024

11 Financial Topics Cohabiting Couples Should Discuss

In a world where love takes many forms, many couples are choosing to live together without formalizing their union through marriage. While this decision can offer various advantages, it can also raise substantial financial considerations. Understanding and addressing the financial matters listed below can help cohabiting couples achieve a harmonious partnership.

Cohabitation Agreements

Experts often recommend that unmarried couples who live together establish a cohabitation agreement. This legally binding document outlines the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of both partners regarding property, finances, and other assets. It acts as a safeguard in case the relationship ends or one partner passes away, ensuring that assets are divided fairly and debts are managed equitably.

Joint or Separate Finances

Married or unmarried, all couples must decide how to handle their financial accounts. Some prefer to maintain separate accounts and split expenses, while others opt for joint accounts to manage household bills together. Regardless of the approach, open communication about financial expectations is essential.

Budgeting and Financial Goals

Cohabiting couples should also consider creating a shared budget and financial plan. Like married couples, it can be helpful for them to discuss their financial goals, such as homeownership, travel, or retirement. Being on the same page can help prevent disputes.

Emergency Fund

Building an emergency fund is essential for all couples, married or not. It helps prepare them for unexpected expenses like medical bills, car repairs, or job loss. The recommended savings amount is three to six months’ worth of living expenses.

Beneficiaries and Estate Planning

Couples should also decide on their beneficiaries for life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial instruments. In case of an unforeseen event, this will help ensure that one’s assets go to the right person. Also, it’s wise to discuss estate planning, including wills and power of attorney.

Taxes

Unmarried couples face unique tax considerations. Depending on their income and financial situation, consulting a tax professional can be a smart move. A professional can explain all the implications of filing taxes jointly or separately and help choose the best strategy for each couple’s particular circumstances.

Health Insurance

Cohabiting couples should also explore their health insurance options. Some employers offer domestic partner benefits, allowing folks to add their partners to their health insurance plan. Alternatively, unmarried couples can potentially consider individual health insurance plans or health savings accounts.

Property Ownership

If an unmarried couple decides to purchase property together, they should be clear about how they will split ownership and expenses. Joint tenancy, tenancy in common, or forming an LLC are all options that may help protect both partners' interests.

Debt Management

Addressing debt should be another financial consideration for unmarried couples. It’s advisable that couples discuss their debts, including student loans and credit card balances, and create a plan to pay them off. Managing financial challenges together can sometimes strengthen a relationship.

Credit Scores

One’s credit score can impact their ability to secure loans and favorable interest rates. Each individual should monitor their credit and practice good financial behavior since their financial history can affect the other person in the relationship.

Retirement Planning

Although unmarried, it’s still possible to plan for a future together. Couples can contribute to retirement accounts individually and discuss their retirement goals as a couple.

Both married and unmarried couples should tackle the financial considerations that are mentioned above. Open and honest communication about finances can help build and maintain a strong relationship. By addressing these key financial considerations and creating a solid financial foundation, a cohabiting couple can likely enjoy a happy, secure life together, whether or not they ever choose to formalize their commitment through marriage.

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