I know that traditionally ‘forget me not day’ is all about reaching out to those we love and care about and letting them know that they still matter. Maybe it could be reconnecting with a distant family member, or an old friend.
For us here at Oval though; it’s a warning!
There is nothing worse than ending a relationship with someone (cue the heartbreak and power ballads), but not being able to chuck them out of your life or forget them because you are still financially tied to them makes it a thousand times worse.
Meeting someone, getting married, and investing in the ‘our money’ school of thought is not bad thing. My partner is currently earning easily double what I am, and we look at the entire household income as ‘ours’ (luckily for me!). However, if things start to go South it’s important not to put your head in the sand and to sort out all financial obligations as soon as possible.
1. Think twice about opening a joint bank account
Head the whole thing off at the pass and don’t open a joint bank account in the first place. Like I said, it’s a personal choice, but if you have any doubts about the relationship then don’t just go gung-ho into a situation where you are liable for everything in that account. And I mean everything.
Maybe you are awesome with your cash, maybe you even manage to create a little ‘safety cushion’ of savings at the end of each month. You’re a dream come true. However, maybe your account partner has a serious Warhammer addiction and falls into the red every month… then, all that lovely overdrawn negative money?
In your name and your responsibility.
If you do decide to open it go through all your rights and responsibilities with the bank very clearly and carefully. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into and also learn your rights as to how to close it down if you need to.
Ie. can it be done by one person or two? Or in the result or an acrimonious split can the funds be temporarily frozen? Take into account you may not be as cuddly with each other as you are right now. It’s something to consider.
2. Get immediate advice from the bank when you do part ways
Ideally you will close down any joint accounts before you go your separate ways. However, from anyone who’s lived through a bad break up, life doesn’t always create an arena for sensible choices.
If you find yourself in a situation where your partner has cleared off without closing down joint responsibilities, and there is some bad blood between you, then get yourself down to the bank as soon as possible to sort out your options.
Firstly, whoever shares that account with you is completely at liberty to clear out every penny that's in there, including going overdrawn and leaving you with the clean up duty.
Secondly, even if you split all the cash harmoniously, don’t just leave the account dormant because you’re too lazy to close it. You’re leaving yourself wide open to fraud.
If your ex-partner decides to join the illegal trade in ivory ten years down the road, and chooses to stash his money in your old forgotten joint account, then that money is still in your name.
I know I sound like a broken record, but I can’t state it enough: *your name, your responsibility. *
3. Take care of joint credit cards/debt asap
Again, something you would hopefully do together before you broke up, but if you don’t then get legal advice asap. Leaving any type of joint debt unresolved is bad on so many levels.
Not only could they default on their repayments, thereby ruining your credit rating, but if you are talking about things like joint credit cards, then by leaving your account open they could also keep borrowing money on it faster than you can pay it back. Don’t get yourself stuck in the dangerous cycle of paying back someone else’s debt.
4. Do not ever take a loan out for someone in your name
I know this sounds like common sense, but it happens. An old friend of mine serves as a cautionary tale in this respect. She had a boyfriend who had a terrible credit history and so couldn’t get a loan, but they wanted to go to Jamaica on an epic two-week holiday. She took out two, two grand loans (one for each of them!) so that they could go away in style. 6 months later he was gone, and never paid her a penny towards the debt. She was lumped with paying off 4k on her own.
Just don’t do it.
At the end of the day, it’s difficult enough trying to recover from a broken relationship, the last thing you want is to be constantly reminded of your ex-partner by being financially coupled to them for long after the fuzzy feelings have left. I’m not saying don’t ever financially commit to someone, just that if things do start to go wrong, grab the situation by the horns and make sure you are safe and financially protected so that you can get on with the other difficult business of restarting your life.
Make sure that the end of the relationship means the begining of a truly independent life for yourself.