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5 Financial Miscues in the Name of Love

Paying their bills
In most relationships, one party will out-earn the other. Setting aside the prospect of bruised egos, there is an even bigger worry to be had.

Especially with young couples, one or both parties may be a bit immature when it comes to bill paying. Perhaps mom and dad always took care of such things. Or maybe there is the thought that your relationship is a trial run for marriage, when it doesn't really matter who pays for what? Well, it does matter. Couples need to carefully think about when, how or if they should pool resources into joint accounts. Before decisions are made, make sure to have a serious, detailed discussion about each other's financial history, future prospects and attitudes about spending and saving.

Adam Levin, former director of New Jersey's Division of Consumer Affairs and co-founder of Credit.com, a consumer advocacy website, weighed in on the matter in an interview with our sister site, MainStreet.com.

"I don't know if it's ever really good to combine credit," he said. "I think it's a natural tendency that couples want to do it as part of the process of bringing themselves closer together. But I think that couples must always maintain separate credit files because death, illness or divorce requires that each member of the couple be able to stand on his or her own feet."

"So often the boyfriend or the girlfriend with the bad credit will say, 'Please, let's get a credit card together, it will help me build my credit and you would be so wonderful if you would do this with me,'" Cunningham says. "Don't do it. There is joint control of that credit card which means you may very desperately want him or her off the card, but your hands are tied if they won't budge. If somebody turns into a jerk, they can run up your credit, refuse to pay and nobody can force them to pay. They are off scot-free."

As an alternative, she suggests making that partner an authorized user of an existing credit card.

"Then you can kick that person off whenever you want to and you've remained in control of the card," she says.
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