If someone told you that for the cost of a new car, you could buy a house, would you believe them? Not only is this true, but it’s actually a growing trend. The catch? Your house will only be slightly larger than the size of that new car.

Tiny homes are sprouting up around the world. Whether you’d like to reduce your carbon footprint, save money on mortgage and energy, or take your home along on adventures, the tiny home movement can be an unconventional--yet satisfying--solution to your needs.

The nitty gritty: How much does it cost to build?
It depends. Your building materials and if you outsource the labor to someone else both affect costs. Tiny homes can cost as little as $2,000 and as much as $30,000 or more. To cut costs, can build your home with recycled materials found at the ReStore Habitat for Humanity store, local thrift stores, salvage yards, or on Craigslist.

Why tiny houses?
At first blush, tiny homes may seem like a glorified playhouse, but tiny homes can be sophisticated and contribute to your self-sufficiency. Tiny homes have a smaller drain on your wallet--not just for building but for sustaining.

Average electric bills for a tiny home run between $10 to $25 per month. Compare that with a traditional house that can easily costs 10 to 15 times that amount.

Another reason to choose tiny home is the portability. Many tiny homeowners build on wheels, which allows them to move the home around, similar to a trailer. Portable tiny homes are especially convenient if your job requires you to move or travel to different locations. It will be just the same size as a hotel room and much more comfortable to sleep in your own bed.

A third reason for tiny homes is simplicity. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. Sometimes living simply can provide the greatest benefits. By necessity, you’ll only buy or use the things that you need or love. There’s simply not enough space to buy extra items you’ll likely never use “just in case.”

Is a tiny home for you?
If you’re a packrat, tiny homes are probably not for you. Tiny homes require fearless purging. Similarly, if you’re prone to claustrophobia, tiny homes may not be your cup of tea. That said, if you can live in the average New York apartment, you can definitely live in a tiny home. Ranging in size from 65 to 400 square feet, tiny homes can actually feel roomy and accommodate a family of four--well, a very close family of four.

If you’ve just graduated from college and have hefty student loans to pay back, a tiny home is the perfect remedy for your living situation. Although it won’t pay back student loans for you, it will allow you to live independently and free up your finances so you can pay back your loans quicker.

What about plumbing and electricity?
Although a home is tiny, it doesn’t mean you won’t have access to all modern conveniences, including indoor plumbing and electricity. Due to the mobile nature of tiny homes, these spaces are generally not connected to electricity grids, but there are plenty of ways to wire your home for electricity from traditional sources. Depending on the size of your home, you may consider solar panels because of their affordability and sustainability.

As for plumbing, you can get plans for tiny homes with plumbing. For these homes, it simply requires that you plug into the sewage line, and you’re in business. However, many tiny homeowners choose to use compost toilets, which are a lot less icky than they sound.

To learn more, visit Tiny House Build, Tiny House Living, and The Tiny House.

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Are you a diligent saver? Penny pincher? You probably have your own tips and tricks for saving a chunk of cash here or squeezing the last bit out of a dollar there. While saving money is a noble pursuit, the ways you save could cost you. Do you abide by any of these four bad “saving” habits?

Buying more of an item because it’s on sale
Especially at the grocery store, it may be tempting to stock up on an item just because it’s on sale. While you may be taking advantage of the store price, you might be overspending on the amount of items you buy. You may not use the extra items you buy before they expire or become outdated, which means you wasted that extra money you spent, regardless of how much you saved on the individual item. Even if you end up using all of the items in the right amount of time, you may find you’re forcing yourself to use those last items on dishes or for other uses you don’t need or are wasteful.

Always going for the cheapest option
While buying the cheapest option may mean upfront savings, you end up spending more money over time on repairing or replacing those cheaper products. Cheaper usually means lower quality parts, and these products are sometimes more likely to break or be made with harmful chemicals. Plan to invest a little more into a higher quality product if it’s something you’ll use a lot or something that would be more expensive to repair than it would be to just pay more for upfront.

Buying more online to qualify for free shipping
How many times have you gone to check out online only to find that’s you’re just $20 away from free shipping? Chances are, you’ve gone ahead and found an extra item(s) to purchase to save yourself a few bucks on shipping. You may not realize you’re spending more on the extra item and free shipping than you would if you just paid for the shipping outright. Plus, you might be purchasing items you don’t actually need or use.

Signing up for a store credit card or rewards credit card solely for the discount
Signing up for credit cards you don’t need is never a good practice, even if you end up getting a store discount or other rewards for using the card. You end up spending more money at the store or on a particular category of products just to get the discount or rewards points when you may not actually need the items you’re buying. You may benefit from the discount or rewards upfront, but you end up driving up the amount of debt and credit you owe, which could generate interest and waste your money in the long run.

While you may go into saving money with good intentions, some of your saving strategies can cost you more money instead. Beware these four “saving” tactics to ensure you make the most of your hard-earned cash.

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College and debt often go hand-in-hand. Before you add to those student loans or draining checking account, however, read these tips to save money packing for college.

Dorm and apartment

Find out what's already provided
Sometimes dorm rooms already come with furniture, lamps, refrigerator, freezer, and microwave. Find out what furnishings come with the room so you know what you'll need to bring and what you can save on not buying. Check to see if there is a shared area with access to a toaster, microwave, hot plate, etc.

Use what you already have
After you make your college living checklist, take inventory of what you already have. You don't have to buy new items. Scour the garage, attic, and closets to find items you may be able to use.

Coordinate with your roommates
If you're sharing a dorm or apartment with someone, be sure to communicate with them about what they're bringing. Share your items, and see what they can offer.

Ask family and friends
Let your family and friends know what household items you're on the hunt for, such as furniture or kitchenware. You never know what people have on hand, and people are usually eager to help out college-bound friends.

Shop for used furniture
Head to thrift stores, secondhand stores, flea markets, garage sales, and yard sales to score used furniture. Be sure to inspect and thoroughly wash items to eliminate mold, bed bugs, or bacteria.

Shop at the dollar store
The dollar store is a great place to stock up on kitchenware, bath items, and household supplies. You'll also find inexpensive decorating items, such as artificial flowers, picture frames, and vases.

Textbooks and supplies

Find out what you actually need and what you already have
If you're going away to college, you may automatically think you need a new laptop or printer. However, many colleges offer computer labs with free access to computers, internet, and printers. Before you purchase books on the syllabus, check the library, see if your school has a textbook trading program, or reach out to your professor to see if the books are required or suggested reading.

Shop secondhand
For books, hit the used section first in your college bookstore. You can also find used books online at Amazon or eBay. Used bookstores may have the book you need, as well. Also consider purchasing a refurbished computer or tablet instead of a brand new one.

Keep supplies in good shape.
Try to keep your books and supplies in the best possible shape. Limit note-taking in textbooks, highlighting, underlining, and wear and tear like water damage. This way, if you do not have a need for them after the class you're taking, you can sell them back to your book store or online. You’ll also want to keep any accompanying CD or course material in good condition as well.

Use coupons and search for deals.
For items such as pens, notebooks, book bags, and other supplies, sign up for e-mail alerts from stores such as Office Max, Office Depot, Target, and Walmart to scope for sales and get discounts.

General tips

Create a budget
Build a budget when gearing up for college. Calculate how much you can afford to spend on all of your gear and allot how much you want to spend on each item. You may need to do some juggling to make the figures work, but this way you aren't spending more than you can afford.

Find the deals
Whether it is furniture, books, or clothing, shop the deals. Follow stores on Facebook and Twitter to learn about promotions, sales, and coupons. Join their e-mail list for deals and coupons. Call the stores to find out when specific items will go on sale. Always keep your receipts in case you find a better price elsewhere or something you like even more.

There's no getting around it: College is spendy. With a little planning and thriftiness, however, you can prepare for a great college experience on a budget.

Photo by Jirka Matousek via cc.

You're in love! Finally, you've updated your profile to "In a Relationship." No more attending your friend's wedding solo or showing up to Grandma's birthday as the "single one." The benefits of having that special someone are countless, and one of those benefits should be financial stability. Whether you have a steady live-in partner, a fiancé, or a spouse, your finances should be a topic of daily conversations--not daily arguments. If you're new to living with two incomes, you're probably surprised by how nice it is! Two heads are better than one, they say, and so are two salaries. But how do you merge those salaries effortlessly? Here are a few strategies to keep your pennies pinched and your minds at ease.

The "CFO" Approach
In this approach, one person would be designated as the Chief Financial Officer of the relationship. Just like any successful business, a successful relationship needs an appointed financial advisor. This strategy is great for those "opposites attract" couples, in which one person is a penny-pincher and the other an impulsive spender. It would be wise to allow the penny-pincher of the relationship to be the CFO and take charge of monitoring statements, establishing a budget, paying bills, and distributing their other half a reasonable allowance each month--reasonable being the key word to success.

The "Yours and Mine" Approach
This financial strategy works great for couples who have separate career lives and enjoy separate checking accounts. Especially for couples living together without a legally binding relationship, keeping separate finances could be beneficial later if your relationship were ever to end; benefits include less paperwork to cancel joint accounts, avoiding financial disputes, and protection from a vengeful ex. Even married couples or couples in civil unions might prefer separate accounts. This allows each person to maintain their financial independence and keep track of where their money goes.

For couples that choose to keep their funds separate, make sure to talk about who is responsible for what bills or how expenses will be shared. It's also a good idea to establish an agreement or goal for savings and spending, so nobody gets out of control and affects the other's finances.

The "Rotating Finance Advisor" Approach
This strategy is my personal favorite and the method my husband and I use to handle our finances. In this model, each person is allowed to be in charge of finances on a rotating basis. How you rotate is up to you: try each month, each yearly quarter, or even every year. This rotation allows both people to be responsible for bill-paying, budget-setting, savings goals, and spending amounts, but at different times. It would be wise to compare how each person's approach is different, and how it affects your wallet. When my husband is in charge, for example, we tend to save more money. When I am in charge, we have a lot more fun.

The "Couldn't Be Bothered" Approach
This approach to handling finances is great for those couples with a certain amount of disposable income and who are both fairly poor at budgeting. It's an easy approach: Hire a financial advisor. If your partner and you have the means but not the interest, it might be wise to hire some help. This is also a good option if it's time to look at investment ideas and retirement plans.

Of course, these are only a few ideas for merging two incomes. Each couple should create their own strategy that works best for them. No matter what your approach is, remember communication is vital, and sticking to an agreed budget is necessary for success. Most importantly, be open about your finances to protect your relationship and your financial future.

Photo by Thomas Berg via cc

 

Having a baby can be a shock to your financial system. It was most definitely a shock to ours! As our precious baby girl turns a year old, her college savings account is in the four figures. The saving success we experienced was due in large part to the generosity of others. There are financial institutions and non-profit organizations that assist in direct gift-giving into your baby's college fund. Our friends and family were able to give directly to her 529 college savings plan account ("529"). A 529 is an education savings plan designed to help families save for future college costs. Skip the noisy toys and fancy outfits on your baby shower registry, and advocate people give a gift that will grow with your little one.

Why 529?
There are many saving vehicles that parents can use to save for college, but 529 plans are normally a better deal for most savers. While both 529 plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts have non-deductible contributions with the benefit of tax-free growth for future qualified educational expenses, Coverdell has a yearly contribution limit, and there are income restrictions to owning a Coverdell. Qualifying U.S. Savings Bonds contributions are tax-deferred, but there are also income restrictions, and the only qualifying expenses are tuition and related fees. Unlike Coverdell, 529 plans, do not have income or age restrictions. With 529, the owner isn’t limited to how much money they make, and they can contribute a large amount per beneficially comparatively. Custodial Accounts, known as UGMAs (for the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act), are certainly another option with no contribution limits, but the beneficiary will own the account at 18 or 21 (depending on the state).

Resources
Once you've decided to open a 529 and know what plan works best for you, there are online resources to help the money start rolling in.

Savingforcollege.com is a great resource for choosing the right savings plan for your future high achiever. It has a variety of information on methods to college saving to understanding financial aid packages. For the best and worst performing 529 plans, for example, you will be able to find that information at savingforcollege.com.

Collegesavings.org also gives great information on college savings methods, such as college cost calculators and comparing 529 plans by state.

Gradsavegifts.org is a non-profit online college savings registry. It also has a free gift-giving service that links your already existing 529 college savings plan account. It also has an easy-to-use social media to help spread the news. A big pro to this registry is that givers can use their debit or credit card, as well as input their bank account information to make a donation. A con is that if a giver uses a credit card, the registry takes the credit or debit card transaction fee out of the donation and leave the child will get the remaining balance. All deposits are processed once a month.

Once you chose a financial institution to contribute to a 529 plan, the plans inherently make it easy for friends and family to contribute directly to the beneficiary’s account. Ask your financial institution for more information.

Even if chronic child care costs are taking much, if not all, of your discretionary funds the first year, there are always ways to start preparing for their future. At an 8% college inflation rate, the cost of college doubles every nine years. For us, that means college expenses will be more than three times current rates by her high school graduation year. Save often and early will be the key to providing a bright future for the next generation.

Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing in a 529 college savings plan.

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When I graduated in 2012, I landed an incredible job. It was 2,496 miles away, but it was an amazing opportunity, so I packed my car. Moving across the country can be a great, fun-filled adventure full of pretty mountains, deep valleys, and loads of singing in the car, despite the inconvenience. However, there are a few things to keep in mind though so everything turns out as easy-peasy and stress-free as possible.

Junk it or trunk it?
Chances are you’re moving to take your first job or start college. If this is the case, you may not have much stuff. Excellent! If you can fit everything in your car, you’ve just saved yourself a massive headache. If you have just a little too much to fit in your car and your move is short-term or indefinite, consider leaving what won’t fit with friends or family or selling it. Whatever you can’t sell, you can donate and use a tax deduction. Make sure and get a receipt.

If renting a truck is your only option, first determine how big of a truck you’ll need, then shop around to check rates so you get the best deal. Typically, trailers rent for much less than trucks. If that’s an option, it may save you some money.

A little love
Your car will need a little love before you pack up and leave. You’re about to put thousands of miles on your car, and the last thing you want is to be stuck on the side of the road with a car full of stuff and a flat tire. No fun. Take your tires in to get checked, and if you’re due for an oil change, now if a good time to check that off the list. You’ll also want to check all of your fluid levels: windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, and power steering. Check out this handy-dandy guide for doing so yourself if you don’t have money to spend on a mechanic.

On the road
This is where it’s going to add up. Before you leave, check online for gas prices. Sites like FuelMyRoute.com, will show you gas prices along your route so you can find the cheapest places to stop. You may have already checked an online gas mileage calculator to get an idea of how much gas money you’ll be spending, but whatever number it told you, it’s wrong. Your gas mileage is going to drop like a watermelon on a soufflé. Same goes if you’re towing something behind you or driving a rental truck. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 100 pounds of weight added to your car can reduce your mileage per gallon by 2%. When it comes to hotels, you may be tempted to book them ahead of time. If you’re going to do that, make sure they’re refundable. You never know how your trip is going to go. You may unexpectedly stop to see a waterfall, get tied up at lunch, or have car trouble. The last thing you want to worry about is losing money on a hotel room you'll never use.

Grab bag

  • Save even more money by remembering a few tips:
  • As soon as you know you’re moving, start saving boxes. Check with local restaurants, grocery stores, and retailers or ask a friend that works at one. Purchasing boxes can be super spendy.
  • Keep your donation receipts in a folder that can easily be found on tax day.
  • Speaking of taxes, if you’ve relocated and have expenses beyond what your new company reimbursed you for, you can write off those expenses too!
  • Don’t forget to fill out a change of address with the USPS and snap valuable coupons.

Moving isn't cheap, but with a little planning and careful budgeting, it can be manageable – and set you up for a fresh start without dipping into the red.

 Photo by Jessica Spengler via cc.

Home ownership can be a rewarding experience, from not having to answer to a landlord to turning a big part of your living expenses into an actual investment. And knowing that your rigorous savings efforts have finally resulted in an ample down payment is an unquestionably satisfying feeling. But before you start shopping for your new home, consider the following: To be financially ready for home ownership, you need more than just that initial 20% payment at closing. Here’s an overview of the savings you should have in place before you go from renting to buying.

An emergency fund
Before you sign that contract, make sure you have an emergency fund to pay for a full six months of expenses in the event that you’re unable to work. This fund should cover essentials like your expected mortgage payment, real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, car payment, groceries, medical costs (including insurance), utilities, and property maintenance.

A home repairs fund
No matter the age of your new home, expect to face both short-term and long-term repairs. Something as simple as a leaky pipe or faucet – which can happen out of nowhere – can cost you a few hundred dollars unexpectedly. And larger jobs, like roofing or heating system repairs, can easily exceed the $1,000-mark. Before you buy, set some money aside in a home repairs fund so you’re not caught off guard or forced to take out a loan.

Money for closing costs
Though you may be able to roll your closing costs into your mortgage (spreading them out into manageable payments), not every lender employs this practice. To be safe, put some money aside to cover your closing costs, which are typically 2%-5% of a home’s purchase price. That means if you’re buying a $300,000 home, you’ll need an additional $6,000 to $15,000 up-front to complete your real estate transaction.

A moving expenses fund
Unless you have a shockingly small amount to transport, there’s a good chance you’ll need to rent a moving truck or even hire professional movers to help you relocate to your new home. Truck costs vary with size and company, and remember you'll be responsible for fuel. Professional movers can cost around $100 per hour for fairly local move (meaning, from a city to a nearby suburb), although this price could go up for heavy furniture and extra manpower. And while some local moves are completed in less than half a day’s time, others can take eight hours or longer.

A down payment for a car
If you’re moving from a city to the suburbs, you’ll most likely need a car to go along with your new home. While you can opt for a used vehicle to lower this expense, be warned that you’ll probably wind up spending more on maintenance than you would with a new car. In 2012, the average down payment for a car was $3,435, so plan accordingly, and remember to factor your auto loan payments into your monthly budget.

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If you’re expecting a child, you’ve likely been told the whole business is expensive – about $245,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some baby expenses are obvious, but others might surprise you. Check out these basic – and yet overlooked – items that should be included your budget.

Nutrition
You want the best for your child, including and starting with what you feed them. Whether you sought out organic and natural options before parenthood, you might shell out the extra cash for high quality food once you have children. If you work, have multiple kids, or are otherwise strapped for time, you will also shell out for more expensive snacks and foods that can be taken on the road. And do you think small people have small stomachs? Wait until your one-year-old hits a growth spurt and downs an entire steak or your skinny two-year-old demolishes a meal from the adult menu during your next night out (true story). Before you panic, check out these 14 tips to trim food bill costs from family experts.

Education
If you think education is something you don’t have to worry about until college, think again – many parents shell out thousands for preschools, on top what they spent during the first three years of childcare. There isn’t a clear-cut way around this expense, but remember to take the cost of local schools into account when you buy a home or move. Creative professional solutions, such as telecommuting a few days a week or becoming a stay-at-home parent, may also help your family balance the budget. Your income may shrink, but so do childcare costs and bills for everything from dry cleaning to gas-guzzling commutes.

Clothing
The ranch hat. The beach sunglasses. The shoes. Turns out little people need just as many accessories as adults do. Yes, need ¬– they, too, can be fair-skinned, tender-footed, or have sensitive eyes. Parents talk all day about finding the basics of baby’s wardrobe, but they sure don’t tell you how much it’s going to cost to outfit your baby for your lifestyle.

Entertainment
Lessons, camps, sports, and activities are increasingly expensive. Did you know that friends are, too? As the world becomes more dangerous, kids spend time with friends on planned (pricey) outings, not during (literally) free time in the neighborhood cul-de-sac. Even birthdays have become a source of expenditure. It is easy to spend hundreds, if not thousands each year. Keep costs low by gathering at free locations with built-in entertainment, such as parks or beaches, that don’t get expensive for large groups. Send email invitations, and offer a few snacks and a cake instead of a full lunch or dinner.

Replacements
Wondering where that $50 disappears to each month? Why, it goes toward your "breakables" – you know, the cost of the things your child destroys during any given day, like the hand lotion they dump out, the glass they drop, the blouse they cover in marker, the rolls of paper towels that they shred, the nice makeup brush they dump in the pet water, the book they leaf through with sticky banana-covered hands. Because children do not become more graceful as they age, this is not a tab that will close any time soon. We don’t know how much it’s going to cost you, but guaranteed – you’re going to pay.

The solution
The good news: There are limitless ways to cut expenses. The tricky bit: finding what works best for your family. From raising diaper-free infants to picking up work on the side, parents are making it work.

What may surprise you most is how much you enjoy spending money on your child. Being a parent means you will trade $5 any day for the grin on that face when presented with a new book, toy, treat, or experience. Remember to buy gifts in bulk during peak sale times, reward with your time and attention instead of material goods, model savvy financial management for older kids, and you’ll do just fine.

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Remember the Beatle's hit "All You Need is Love?" A good song, but it's not true. When two people love each other and want to get married, they also need a mutual understanding about personal finances. After all, finances are the leading cause of divorce, according to Examiner.com. Communication before commitment helps prevent a trip to divorce court.

Whose money is it, anyway?
Is money mine and yours or ours? How each of you view ownership might make or break your marriage. Whether you live in a community property state also makes a difference.

The legal definition of "community property" is, in plain English: "All earnings during marriage... are owned in common and all debts incurred during marriage are the responsibility of both spouses," according to Nolo.com.

If you live in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin, assets and debts acquired during marriage are legally shared.

It's not uncommon for one spouse to earn more than the other. This may breed resentment or jealousy. Are you and your partner willing to put all earnings into a joint account and discuss expenditures before making a purchase? If not, how much does each spouse get to hold out for individual use?

Spending habits cause conflict
When both partners like to spend, neither one sees a problem until they are sinking in debt. Marriage problems that lead to divorce surface when neither spouse is willing to curb his or her own spending. When people get a sense of identity from their purchases, overspending is a difficult habit to break.

The opposite of overspending is underspending and hoarding, filling a basement with things he "might need someday." Underspenders are seldom concerned with luxury. If you like new furniture, you will have a conflict with a partner who prefers to make do with old things.

Discuss spending habits with your future spouse. Most people's spending behavior falls on a continuum between overspending and hoarding. Take an honest look at how your spending habits are similar and different. Working toward common goals, such as a vacation or saving for your child's college tuition, may help keep you both on track.

When children enter the mix
You already discussed having children, and you both are looking forward to having a family – but you have a lot more to talk about. There are fundamental questions that too many couples do not discuss before getting pregnant.

Affording the baby goes beyond saving up for a nursery and some time off from work. Who will take care of the baby when family leave is used up? If one parent stays home, there is less income. After you factor in the cost of daycare, you may be just as well off financially staying home.

Discuss the importance of education. Some couples move to an area with a reputation for good public schools. Others prefer paying for private schools. College is another expense with which some parents want to help their children. That means more saving or planning and sacrifice while those children are growing up. Do you and your betrothed feel the same way about these issues?

The key in discussing money issues with your partner is to have a mutual understanding about your attitudes toward money, your common goals, and how you both plan to reach them. Open and honest communication now may save you expensive heartbreak later.

Photo by Dmitry Ryzhkov via cc
 

Times change. And then again, they don't. Not really, because after all is said in done in American romance and its evolving iterations, breaking up is still hard to do.

Back in the day, or so I'm told by those in "The Greatest Generation" you got married young and stayed together for life, no matter how much you wanted to kill each other. But divorces soon increased anyway. As my parents and other boomers of the '50s and '60s grew older, "Children of Divorce" (like me and virtually everyone I knew) became "a thing." Anyone who experienced joint custody, unpaid child support, step parents, and then ex-step parents understood the difficulties of breaking up.

You'd think that as the social stigma of unwed mothers, single parents, and living together all faded, the breaking up part would get easier. Though a divorce attorney is no longer required, parting ways is still – surprisingly perhaps – much tougher to do than one might expect.

A Rent.com survey of 1,000 unmarried couples living together found that 62% stayed for more than a month or longer even after the "it's not you, it's me" speech. More than half said finding new housing was the hardest part. A third said they stayed around simply because finding and paying for a new place was tough. Thankfully, plenty of advice exists for extracting yourself and your stuff as peacefully – and quickly – as possible.

The pre-shack
Have that awkward pre-nuptial financial agreement talks before even moving in together. Lay out some basics of who owns what, how expenses are shared, and who gets the place if the social love experiment fails. As for those already shacking up, it's not too late. Designate a day to "clarify." Just don't plan it for Valentine's Day.

Rainy day fund
If there is one thing to keep separate, it's a savings account. Moving is never cheap. Deposits, new purchases, rental vans, pizza, and beverages for the reluctant movers you call friends – you name it, it all costs. Insist savings be kept separate from the start. If you are already living with someone, it's a good thing to discuss your savings goals now. The very idea of living together denotes a more experimental phase than marriage (despite half of those suckers circling the drain, the illusion of permanence still exists), so a clear talk about security is a sign of maturity and health – not doubt of your true love.

Storage
According to the Rent.com survey, more than half said splitting the stuff was actually more difficult than splitting the cash (likely because there is far more of the former and less of the latter). From the start, it's a good idea to store rather than purge when two people merge. If that box of old books and those treasured mementos and the recliner she said was too ugly all find a nice private place to stay, moving out day will at least be quicker, if not less painful.

Be your best self
With so many raw nerves exposed, a break up will go better if conducted civilly until the hard work of relocating, dividing, and reclaiming your single life is done. Kindness, compromise, and healthy boundaries are critical at times like these, which requires you to channel your inner Gandhi when you may well feel like Gordon Ramsey

In the end the best advice is often the simplest. Think of the old Band Aid and rip. I'm not sure a "clean" break-up exists, but the more it resembles a scalpel rather than a butter knife, the sooner you'll find the road to recovery on your own again.

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