Shared responsibilities are a sign that your relationship with your boyfriend is maturing. Unmarried couples often live together and share the financial burdens, such as rent, utilities and food. Combining finances and starting a joint account can help organize your finances, but it should be done only after careful planning.
Talk It Over
Before you walk into the bank and open a joint savings account with your boyfriend, be clear about your reasons for having the account. Keep the purpose in mind: It is a savings account designed to help you build a financial cushion. The money you save could be for a specific purpose, such as a future home purchase or a wedding, or it could be a simple emergency fund. Decide how you and your boyfriend will contribute to the fund -- equally, based on a percentage of your income or using some other method -- and how often you will put money into the account.
Even if you are clear on contributions and the frequency of each deposit, you should set boundaries on access and be completely open and honest about your expectations of how the account should be handled. Once the money is in the account, it becomes reachable by the creditors -- including the bank -- of both account holders. If your boyfriend becomes liable for a debt and cannot pay it with his own money, the money may be drawn from the savings account you share.
Keeping a Separate Savings Account
You can avoid some problems of a shared savings account if you both maintain separate savings and checking accounts in your own names. Keeping control over a portion of your personal savings and checking accounts protects a portion of your finances in case you and your boyfriend split up. If you both stay true to your intentions and your plan for the joint account, you can avoid feelings of mistrust in keeping separate personal accounts.
Keeping a separate account is only one way to protect yourself in a breakup. You need to also know how to handle the money in the savings account. Talk with your boyfriend and create a plan on how to divide the money. Put the plan in writing, and sign it. For example, you could decide to divide the money based on each of your contributions to the account, which can be determined from bank statements or your own records. You should also cover what to do if your boyfriend withdraws everything in the account and disappears. If you have the plan in writing, you may be able to seek legal action against your boyfriend to recover the amount.
Based in Traverse City, Mich., George Lawrence has been writing professionally since 2009. His work primarily appears on various websites. An avid outdoorsman, Lawrence holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both criminal justice and English from Michigan State University, as well as a Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he graduated with honors.