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BLOG: Love and money are uneasy partners

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Two surveys this week should give you unromantic pause for thought this Valentine’s Day.

The first, from Scottish Widows, found that one in five people said a lack of shared financial goals and attitudes towards money had put a strain on their relationship, while one in ten didn’t trust their partner with finances.

The second, from GoCompare shows that 7% of UK savers have a secret savings account that they hide from their friends, family and partner. One in eight people say their partner doesn’t know how much they have in savings and women are five times more likely than men to keep their savings a secret from their partner.

Oddly, the fact that these figures are so high is sort of encouraging. It shows that people are not being naïve about their financial situation and are making sure they have something set aside if their partner turns out to be a faithless swine, or a reckless spender.

Because let’s face it, love can make you poor. It’s all so great when it starts out – who wants to talk about cohabitation agreements or pre-nups? It’s so unromantic.  However, the really unromantic bit comes later, when you realise that your ‘understanding’ with your partner holds no legal water, and they have no inclination to pay you what you think you’re owed now you’ve split up.

You can’t afford to be romantic about money, particularly if you have children. If you are a man or woman who has given up work, you need to make sure you and your children would be protected if your spouse/partner got ill, ran off, died or was otherwise indisposed. You need to make sure you continue to make National Insurance contributions so that you are entitled to the state pension. This cannot be left to chance. Too many people say ‘oh, my partner takes care of that sort of thing’, only to find that they haven’t.

You also need to be careful about debt. Some people have a notably more casual approach to debt than others and if you are paired up with a ‘devil may care’ type, it makes even more sense to keep track. No-one wants debt run up in their name.

The worry is not that 7% have a secret savings account, but that 93% haven’t. When it comes to your finances, you and you alone are responsible for your future well-being and protection. That sounds mercenary, but money and love are uneasy bedfellows so keep the two well and truly separate.

Top tips

  • A ‘running away’ pot is essential – our mothers swore by them. This is enough to pay a rental deposit and last for a few months if things ever got ugly. Remember, joint bank accounts get frozen on divorce
  • Look after your pension. You need 30 years of National Insurance contributions to be entitled to the state pension. Make sure you have them
  • Check your credit rating regularly. If your unscrupulous partner is building up debt in your name, you need to know about it
  • Protect your savings against inflation – keeping everything in cash won’t cut the mustard. In 10 years’ time it could be worth 30-40% less. Put regular savings into the stock market
  • Most importantly, don’t assume that someone else is taking care of it just because you’re in love and they seem great. Take care of yourself.

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