What the experts say
Financial tips for cohabitors
“Couples are taking a lot longer to walk down the aisle these days—if they do it all,” said Kathryn Vasel in CNN.com. Cohabiting partners don’t get the same legal protections as married partners in the case of a split, so it’s important they have “detailed—and frank—conversations about their finances.” Look at what is coming in and out each month and decide who will be responsible in regard to bills. Don’t open a joint account unless you’re in it for the long haul. One party can withdraw all the money and disappear—“and that’s perfectly legal.” If you do open a joint account, keep your earnings in your own account and place a month of expenses in the joint one. Think twice before cosigning a loan, and keep your credit cards separate. Lenders “aren’t likely to sympathize” in the event of a breakup.
Equifax extends credit freeze
“If you want to freeze your credit report for free at Equifax, the deadline to do so has been extended to June 30,” said Sarah O’Brien in CNBC.com. The move follows last year’s “massive” data breach at the credit-reporting company, which compromised an estimated 145 million consumers’ private data, including names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. Locking or freezing your account prevents fraudsters opening new accounts in your name. But it won’t stop the most common type of identity theft, misuse of your current credit cards and bank accounts, and it won’t protect your credit report at the other two big credit-reporting firms, Experian and TransUnion. Experts recommend freezing your credit report at all three firms.
Social Security and remarriage
“You may want to rethink that second walk down the aisle if you are approaching retirement and counting on income from Social Security,” said Lorie Konish in CNBC.com. If you were married to your former spouse for at least 10 years, and are now age 62 or older, you will be eligible to receive half their benefit amount. You can, of course, choose to receive your own Social Security benefits. “Once you remarry, however, that choice is gone” and you’ll only have access to your benefits. That changes if your second marriage ends in divorce or with the death of your spouse. At that point, so long as you were married to each spouse for at least 10 years, you can choose between the two former partners’ benefits.