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Does my boyfriend really need to know about my store card debt?

Does my boyfriend really need to know about my store card debt?

We ask Megan French, consumer expert at MoneySavingExpert.com, as part of Talk Money Week, to answer the following question. Join in the conversation on Twitter and tell us what you would advise.

Question

I’ve been with my boyfriend just over a year and we love each other a lot. He’s even suggested we move in together and I can’t wait.

He is kind of old fashioned and said he would like us to have a joint bank account (just like his parents do) and it would show just how committed we are to each other. He said it would be a good place to start saving for a deposit on a flat.

I really like that idea, but worried about that the fact I have £2k on store cards he doesn’t know about and I got into a bit of trouble a couple of years ago for missing credit card payments.

I don’t want him to think I’m not committed to our relationship, but I don’t want him to get angry at me about my store cards either because he can get a bit judgemental about my shopping habits.

Do you think it’s safe to just not tell him about my cards, and get the joint account anyway? I could pay off the store cards separately, while putting in money in the joint account for the deposit.

Answer

There are a number of themes and issues to tackle here, but before we start we need to iron out the difference between emotional commitment and financial commitment, as they are very different.

A financial commitment is not a way of showing emotional commitment, like holding hands or sharing a bed. Rather it should only be made if needed, such as if you decided to get a mortgage together.

I’d say it’s a bad idea to get a joint bank account in order to show how committed you are, however you may decide you want to have a joint bank account for household bills. But this is not without risk, opening a joint bank account together means you will become financially linked via your credit files.

Credit scores

If one of you has a poor credit history, this could then affect the other’s credit rating. Which brings us onto the issue of things that show up on your credit file. Missed payments, for example, are definitely something that could affect your score, and so if you become financially linked to your partner, your score may affect theirs.

And if this wasn’t a reason enough to be honest, there’s also the issue of trust. Aside from that being fundamental to a relationship, it’s important when discussing joint finances too, as you and they need the full facts – including any outstanding credit or debt – to make the best decisions for your circumstances.

So in this situation, no you shouldn’t get a joint account without telling your partner about your store cards, as you both need to make an informed decision on the best option for each of you.

Where to put savings

And finally, if the only reason you want a joint account is to save for a house deposit, there are a number of better options.

Consider the Help to Buy ISA or Lifetime ISA, which both give a 25% bonus on the amount you save towards your first home, and the best part is if you’re both first-time buyers you can each have an account and get double the bonus.

In terms of your credit score, it would be worth checking yours, and seeing if there are ways you can boost it now in preparation for if and when you do decide to buy a home – find out how here.

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