How to protect your finances when love is new.

Author:Edmond, Alfred, Jr.
Position:LOVE & MONEY

Is your new Valentine aiming for your heart-or your wallet? Here's how to avoid being a fool for love

EACH YEAR, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ARE VICTIMIZED BY the belief that the pursuit of love justifies taking risks, especially with their finances. The temptation to make financial decisions in the name of love can be especially pronounced in the months leading up to Valentine's Day, when the pressure to be coupled-up' can reach a fever pitch.

As a result, too many people emerge from romantic relationships with bigger problems than just broken hearts and hurt feelings; they are also dealing with empty bank accounts, devastated credit histories, crushing debt, and even bankruptcies. We address these risks and realities with our Grown Love and Money (GLAM) Sessions that we present at events such as Bishop T.D. Jakes' MegaFest and Tom Joyner's Fantastic Voyage Foundation Cruise. Our message to session attendees: "I did it for love" is a sad, sorry excuse for poor financial decision-making, and will provide no protection against its consequences.

The truth is, in too many cases, the object of your desire is more interested in the money in your wallet than the love in your heart. To protect yourself, here are key dos and don'ts--and major red flags that should never be ignored--in order to avoid destroying your finances in the name of love.

DO NOT cosign on credit cards, car loans, cell phone contracts, or other joint financial commitments just because you are in love. When you cosign on a loan that goes into default, you--not the primary borrower--will most likely end up having to pay off the loan.

DO draw a hard line against requests for loans and other financial assistance. Requests to borrow money are a major red flag, especially in a new relationship. If you feel you must grant such a request, insist on a written agreement laying out repayment terms signed by both you and your would-be Valentine. Otherwise, you'll have no way to prove the money you gave was a loan (not a gift) and you'll have virtually no way to get it back. If they become hurt, angry, or resentful of you, or otherwise resistant to signing such an agreement, hold on to...

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