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Thinking about springing for a house or a car together? Make sure you read this first
When things are awesome with your boyfriend, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s natural to start thinking about moving in together, ring or no ring. But these days, millennials are taking that a step furtherÃ¢â‚¬”one in four couples aged 18 to 34 is actually buying a home together prior to tying the knot, according to according to a new Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey.
It seems intense, but under the right circumstances, investing in a place together can seem like the logical move. (Throwing away rent money you'll never see again when you can pay the same amount to actually own property? No thanks.) But in even better news, experts say it can also earn you serious relationship perks.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When you make a long-term investment in something together, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re also reaffirming a long-term commitment to each other,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Victoria Collins, PhD, psychologist, financial planner and author of Couples and Money. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Buying big-ticket things like homes or cars together is an intimate process that makes your lives even more intertwined.Ã¢â‚¬Â
If you're ready to make a big financial leap with your S.O., awesome. But before putting all that money up, Collins recommends approaching the process strategically to ensure you both get what you want.
Set your priorities Talk through your initial expectations. Whether youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re investing in a home or a flat-screen, you probably both have different must-haves in mind, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important to be in tune with what the other wants, says Collins. Put your heads together and decide the top non-negotiables you both agree your [insert big-ticket item here] should have.
Come clean about your cash situation You wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t order take-out if you didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the cash to pay the delivery guyÃ¢â‚¬”and it doesn't make sense to make a long-term financial commitment without first sussing out your joint finances to see what's realistic, either. Lay everything out on the tableÃ¢â‚¬”bank statements, credit card bills, the whole nine yardsÃ¢â‚¬”and talk openly about whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s practical, suggests Collins. It may not be the sexiest way to spend your Saturday night, but full disclosure now can help prevent any unpleasant surprises down the road. Plus, establishing open communication about something so personal fosters serious trust.
Set boundaries After crunching the numbers, establish a price range youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re both comfortable with and seriously (!) stick with it. It may seem like no big deal, but cheating your budget even a smidge sets a dangerous precedent for future financial decisions and could cause underlying tension (especially if one of you is more of a saver than a splurger), says Collins.
Present a united front When you're talking to an agent or a salesperson, Collins suggests keeping your thoughts on the various options close to your chest. Jot your reactions down on paper or your phone, and regroup with your guy later to discuss. That way you can make a choice together without a pushy agent breathing down your neck. You should also deliver your decision as a unit, says Collins. This keeps you both in the driverÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s seat and will subconsciously reinforce your roles as mutual stakeholders in your purchaseÃ¢â‚¬”and your relationship.
Set your terms Before signing on the dotted line, iron out who'll pay what and what would happen if you ever do split down the road, suggests Collins. Record everything on paper, and have that agreement notarized, just as a worst-case-scenario insurance policy. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll definitely be awkward, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more than just smart business senseÃ¢â‚¬”these preparations can ward off anxiety about that what if scenario. The peace of mind is totally worth it.
Keep talking Duh statement of the year: Expensive things can take a long time to pay off. Who knows what unexpected bills may pop up along the way? To make your arrangement work long-term, you have to keep the lines of communication open and make adjustments youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re both comfortable with as needed, says Collins.