Currently around 80% of Australian couples 'test drive' living together before getting married.
It's a sensible way to see if you can live together long term, but if you don't blend your incomes/assets well, it can be a downward slide to fighting over money.
The tips we are discussing today aim to help you blend your incomes, but also give you a bit of an 'out' in case the test drive doesn't work out.
Start by listing all of your assets, including their values at the time the relationship starts. If you're not sure of an item's value, consult a professional. Include physical assets but also financial inheritances and any other lump sum funds.
Seriously, even if the relationship lasts forever, you will thank yourself for doing this.
Consider adding your name to household basics
I'm talking a rental lease and essential utilities.
While it can seem safer to have these sorts of things in the other person's name -- what happens if they don't pay their share? -- it also means that if things go south, the other person might have the power to kick you out of the property or have the electricity cut off on you.
Something to consider, if you have both names on a bill and the other person doesn't pay their share, it's probably good to find out they're that type of person (before things get really expensive).
Having said that, you want to avoid getting into debt for someone - anyone. Which leads me onto the next point...
Avoid becoming financially indebted
While it's all chocolates and flowers at the start, relationships settle in time. Don't let those initial feelings lead you to sign up to anything that will get you into debt.
It's best to avoid credit cards, loans (even if it's for household items like a new lounge suite) or becoming a guarantor for a loan.
If you are buying shared items, consider contributing equally by creating a shopping list, valuing everything and then each paying for individual items up to your half.
Keep up the communication
Probably the most important step of all: communication. Talking about money can be awkward or taboo for some, and I completely understand.
Unfortunately, avoiding an awkward conversation won't make things better in the long run.
Schedule in regular time to talk about money so it just becomes a normal thing. Ensure you're on the same page with how you're handling money, the decisions you're both making, any concerns you might have and where you both see yourself heading.
According to Relationships Australia the main issue couples argue about is money, so I hope these tips will set you both up with a financially strong foundation.
My Income Organiser