Money. It’s the bottom line; it makes the world go round; maybe it’s even the root of all evil. Married or co-habitating couples put money at the top of their fight list. But even if you’re not at the point in your relationship where you’re ready to marry or move in, money packs a big punch.

If you’ve watched Judge Judy or the People’s Court even a few times, you’ve probably seen ex-lovers suing each other over past loans. You’ll notice that typically the plaintiff is the only one using the word “loan”: the defendant swears up and down, “It was a gift.”

Maybe you snickered at the litigants from the safety of your living room, pitying them not only because Judge Judy is slaying them before 10 million people for giving money to someone they barely knew and without a shred of documentation, but because you know your boyfriend would never drag you to court or that your girlfriend would always pay you back if you helped her make a car payment once in a while. And you wouldn’t need to make her sign for it.

Really?

The fact is, it’s impossible to see the future anyway, no matter how clear-headed we are at the moment. And when you’re trying to see a future that includes someone else, it’s ultra-impossible since you only have control over your own actions, never someone else’s. Further confounding this scenario is that when you’re first in love, the heady euphoria transcends the mundane until you can’t imagine that your time with this special someone will feel anything but splendid. Money? Who cares about something as blasé as money at a time like that? If she needs it, why not? Your wallet opens almost on its own Situs Judi Bola Resmi.

Sure, there are lovers out there who loan each other cash and repay it without whining and shirking and denying. You might be one of those lucky few. However, money complicates things, and the pattern of unpaid loans after a relationship heads south is indisputable. And since the future remains stubbornly unpredictable, it makes sense to protect yourself.

Some rules to remember:

1) Try to avoid loaning money.

That’s right, try to avoid it. Try to avoid muddying your relationship with ever-messy money. Period. However, if you can afford to give and if you’re inclined to give and you’d be fiscally sound if you never saw that sum returned, then give it and forget it.

2) Never, ever, ever co-sign a loan or hand over your credit card.

And don’t open a cellphone contract in your name for your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s unsupervised use. (We were all fine with plain old landlines for a long, long time. S/he will be fine until that problematic credit gets fixed.) These no-nos are worse than loaning money since they’re open-ended (which means there’s greater financial liability for you than one fixed amount) and they place your credit at serious risk.

3) Get some distance before you decide.

If you feel yourself leaning toward loaning money, take some time and space to decide. Maybe the reason your beau needs the cash seems like a worthy cause. But beware: if he needs a wad of green for his Thursday nights at the casino, he probably won’t pose it to you that way. “Hey, babe. Remember my Aunt Matilda, the one from Jersey I told you about? Well, she sure does need that new hip. Pronto.”

Don’t answer right away. Certainly don’t answer in the heat of the moment (i.e., when you two are in bed or when your boyfriend first utters, “I love you.”). This may sound like a duh statement, but that’s because you’re not in bed with your girlfriend or hearing your boyfriend first say the L-word. Trust me, way too many people have their typically cool-headed reasoning blurred when things get hot and steamy.

4) Put it in writing.

If your lover’s request has stood the test of time and distance in #3, and only if you feel the absolute need to help out in what appears to be an extenuating, isolated circumstance, then memorialize everything on paper. It may sound cold or harsh, but protecting your hard-earned money and your good credit rating isn’t harsh, it’s smart. Put the loan in writing, clearly stating the amount, any specific terms of repayment and the date when it should be repaid. Write “LOAN” in the memo field of the check. And don’t hand over the check unless s/he signs the promissory note.

5) Yes, write a check.

Please don’t hand over cash that he might accept with a dazzling smile and a sultry thank you today and only deny ever receiving a year down the road. Leave a paper trail so that at least if you do have to go to small claims court to try to get your money back, you’ll win the case.

6) Keep the amount modest.

You shouldn’t have to struggle to pay your rent because you forked over too much money to the person you’re dating. Think of your own expenses first. And besides, if s/he pleads for a great deal of money, your intimate pal may have a serious problem that your paycheck can’t address. The last thing you should be doing is unwittingly feeding a destructive habit or a serious inability to handle money.

So the next time you hear, “Sweetheart, I’ll pay you back. You know I’m good for it,” stop, take a deep breath, and think, “What would Judge Judy do?”

Is your relationship worth protecting? Are you ready to make your marriage everything it can be?

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