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Breakups are never easy, but they can be messy and complicated if you and your partner have spent years building a life together.
While you may not divide up property and finances as you split in the same way as a divorcing couple would, there are still some financial tasks you need to make sure to take care of.
Here are 4 important financial tasks to handle when ending a long-term relationship:
1. Split Accounts
If you shared any financial accounts, whether bank accounts, credit cards, or utilities – even unofficially – it’s important that you get them split up as promptly as possible.
Depending on the circumstances, this often means that the person who first owned the account is the one who retains it. However, if you both contributed to the money in a household account, or the debt on a credit card, you may need to come to an agreement on how to share the responsibility on that account going forward.
If you’re separating one partner from a checking account, for example, it may mean that you write a check to the other person and then retain what’s left in the account. For credit card debt, your partner may have to pay you for their agreed-upon portion of the responsibility.
Getting as much of this division in writing, signed by both parties, is important in the event that a disagreement arises down the line.
2. Change Passwords
It’s just a fact of life that long-term couples often share everything, even passwords.
If this is the case in your breakup, be sure to change your most sensitive, important passwords – to your financial accounts, your email, and social media accounts – as soon as possible. While your ex may not do anything nefarious with the information, it’s better to be safe than sorry in these situations.
While you’re at it, consider changing passwords to any shared utility accounts, such as streaming services, that you will retain ownership of once the split is finished. Also, consider changing any security codes and passwords on your computers, smartphones, and mobile devices.
3. Start Your Own Accounts
If you’re missing any important financial accounts because you and your partner shared them, a breakup is a good time to start them.
Find a bank, apply for a credit card, and get your own phone plan and other utilities if you don’t already have them.
Down the road, this step will help you rebuild your financial life and can also prepare you for an easier transition in the event that a new relationship goes sour.
4. Set Aside Some Cash
Breakups of long-term relationships mean that someone’s moving out, or sometimes both parties change their living situation.
Regardless of whether you’re staying or going, you suddenly will find yourself with extra bills that once were shared. To help you weather any financial difficulties that may arise, it’s important to start stashing some money into a separate savings account in the event of an emergency.
In addition to this emergency fund – which you should only touch in the event of a true emergency – it’s probably ideal to start cutting you regular expenses down as far as possible to give you extra money to pay those new bills or to set up your new home.
The better you prepare before your breakup is completely final, the better off you’ll be when starting over.
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Whether you’ve been married for decades or living together in a committed relationship for a few years, it’s never easy to start over.