Well, we've arrived at our discussion for this week – the money side of things when you decide to get married. This milestone is a huge move in anyone's life, as it's a time filled with excitement around planning and moving onto a new phase. For many couples, the planning of the actual wedding and honeymoon take precedence over the boring and not as exciting task of the planning of the financial side of your future... However, just as important as the dress, the cake and the destination of that one big day, is the day-to-day realities of how you will plan, save and invest for times ahead.
Money can be one of the primary sources of disagreement in a relationship, and that is why before you say "I do", it is important that you and your partner take the time to discuss and agree on a "money plan." This includes understanding how tying the knot can impact your financial obligations and potentially affect how you structure your finances. Keep in mind, however, that finances and taxes can vary greatly depending on an individual's or a couple's specific situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional to discuss your personal situation and get the best plan in place for you.
Here are five things to consider when it comes to how marriage and money can work together:
1. Understand what your relationship with money actually is for both of you. This is definitely a discussion you should have before you walk down the aisle, but research shows that couples who have a similar relationship with their finances generally stand a better chance of staying together. And this makes sense – if one person only likes saving and the other person only likes spending, it will be increasingly difficult to find a happy medium if there is no compromise. It's also worth talking about the financial education (or lack of it) you've grown up with because we're initially very much shaped by the way our parents handled their money.
2. Work out what combined living actually costs. If you're just moving in together for the first time, or if you're changing your living arrangements, there will be new and perhaps additional costs to factor into your budget. Think about your combined rent or mortgage repayments, car expenses, bills, and private health just to name a few. You may find that the cost of having two people under the one roof sends your combined spending either up or down, but getting really clear on this number is your best starting point.
3. Decide on a personal spending amount for each of you and keep it separate. One of our main cashflow strategies is to separate your weekly personal spending from your other money that's used for bills, investments, and savings. Transfer your weekly spending amount to your spending account and use this money to cover gifts, dining out, transport and groceries – all the day to day spending. This works for couples because you each have your own allocation of personal spending deposited into your individual bank accounts, and you each have discretion over how you spend your weekly allocation. Just try and stick to the determined amount! Then with your remaining cash flow, you can set up automatic payment of bills and invest for your goals.
4. Set your goals together. If you're wanting financial success, you both need to know what you're saving and investing for in order to stay motivated, and also to ensure you don't dip into those savings. It's so important to set those investment goals together so that you're aligned and both planning for the bigger picture. When two people are on different pages with what they're wanting form money, the outcome can be disastrous and lead to regular conflict. Get clear on this from the start and put a plan in place together. Being accountable to each other for working towards your plan will also give you a better chance of reaching this.
5. Update your Wills. Getting married actually cancels any previous Will that you already had in place, so make sure you visit your solicitor soon after to get another one done. If you, unfortunately, passed away before having done this, you'll be deemed to have died "intestate" (without a Will), which makes estate planning a lot more complicated and time-consuming for the remaining spouse. Also, revisit your nominated beneficiaries on your super funds. Remember that a spouse can receive a super benefit tax-free, which may also include some life insurance if your super has a policy in place.
We hope you have enjoyed this week's "Money in Life" series and remember we are only an email or phone call away if you would like to seek advice on how to help grow your wealth now and into the future.