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5 Financial Miscues in the Name of Love

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- True love means never having to say you're sorry. Or, alternately: "I'm taking you to court because you've ruined me financially."

When a couple is in love (or at least think they are part of something destined for "happily ever after"), the temptation is to share and share alike. What's mine is yours -- " mi dinero, su dinero."

When relationships go sour, mingled finances can be the most painful thing to separate.

Sadly, intertwined finances can be disastrous if the relationship does fray. In fact, money problems can be the source of friction that sours a relationship.

"I really think that people's emotions can override their common sense," says Gail Cunningham, of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the nation's longest-serving nonprofit credit counseling organization. "When you are in love you can look at life with rose-colored glasses if you want to, but don't look at your finances with them on. Make financial decisions with your head, not your heart."

The following are five ways couples can set each other up for financial woes:

Co-signing a loan
On the surface, co-signing a loan for your beloved may seem the right thing to do. Your partner might need to buy a new car or get a student loan. The former may be a necessity, the latter something that can offer a significant upside for your future together.

Be wary, though. It is not just your signature on a piece of paper. There are repercussions that can hurt your finances and creditworthiness for years to come.

Your significant other might be a wonderful person and seemingly responsible. But be honest with yourself: There is a reason they needed to ask for a co-signer. If it is because they don't earn enough to qualify, what makes you think they can handle an additional monthly bill? If past credit problems makes getting a loan on their own impossible, that may very well be a portent of how seriously (or not) they treat their responsibility to creditors and, by extension, you.

If your partner defaults on the loan, whether or not you are still a couple, you will be on the hook. Debt collectors will typically go after low-hanging fruit when they look to recoup money; if they think your former love can't, or won't, pay up, they are going to set their sights on you.

Not only will you have bill collectors hounding you, but your credit rating will suffer. Even if your partner does make reliable payments, you may feel a pinch. Even if it is not "your" loan, in the eyes of the credit agencies being a co-signer means it can be treated as such for your ratio of debt to credit.
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