Whether you're newly married or just getting ready to settle down with your loved one, it's important to go into a future with your partner on the right note. For lots of couples, money ends up being a huge stress on the relationship. In fact, 41% out of 500 Singaporeans say they fight with their partner about money.
Thankfully, there are steps that you and your partner can take to strengthen your financial relationship and prepare for a life together. Here, we've shared the most important things that you and your partner should consider before embarking on your financial journey together.
The HoneyMoon Phase Is Over… Now What?
The first step in creating any financial plan together is to take stock of your current finances and openly communicate your financial obligations from the start.
Make sure all paperwork is updated. Before you get started on this journey with your loved one, you both should ensure that all of your identification and relevant accounts are updated with current information. This includes updating your beneficiaries on your life insurance policy, for example.
Make a list of income, assets, and debt. You and your spouse should lay out all sources of income; assets like property or investments; and debt including credit cards and loans. By doing so, you can have an honest discussion about where you both stand financially.
Estimate your current spending habits. By creating a list of your monthly expenses like food, toiletries, and even Netflix subscriptions, you can get a better idea of your current spending habits. Doing this stage of planning, we recommend to take note of any credit card points or rewards that you receive for your purchases. This will come in handy later when you're deciding whose credit card to use to buy groceries, for example.
Make Relationship Money Goals
Next, you and your partner should brainstorm your short-term, medium-term and long-term financial goals. This can be done separately or together, as long as you share your goals with each other afterwards.
Communicate Your Priorities
To set off the right foot, you and your partner will need to openly communicate your priorities, as well as which financial goals you are willing to compromise on. For example, you may prioritize buying a home, while your partner wants to start a family sooner than the time it would take to save up for a hefty down payment.
By having this conversation now, you and your partner can avoid unnecessary tension later and plan for a future in which both of your goals can be met.
Making Hard Decisions Easy
Once you've both taken the time to listen to one another and find common ground, you'll need to set actionable, realistic goals to work towards.
Decide how you will own assets. Would you prefer to own assets individually or have joint ownership? For instance, some couples prefer to keep their credit card accounts separate. Others open up a shared account, which can benefit the couple in many ways, like saving S$100 to S$200 on annual fees by using a supplementary card.
Calculate the costs of your goals. Whether you want to buy a new TV or plan for your first home, you and your spouse will need to do some online research to estimate the cost. By doing so, you can create a game plan for how much money to put aside each month to achieve these goals.
Don't forget about your debt. Many people come into a new relationship with their own financial history. If you or your partner have debt from credit card usage or student loans, then it's important to consider these financial obligations when planning for new purchases or investments. You can also take this time to decide if debt consolidation will save you and your partner more money down the road.
Put Your Plan Into Action
With your priorities, regular expenses, and financial obligations all in order, it's now time to put your planning into action.
Create a budget. You and your loved one should draw up a realistic budget that addresses basic necessities, luxury items, and emergency funds. To start, take a look at the 50-30-20 rule, which deals a percentage of your income into three separate categories: 50% needs, 30% wants, and 20% savings. This rule is meant to help you and your partner cut back on unnecessary expenses and ensure the growth of your savings.
Divvy up the costs. For every expense on the table, you and your partner should confirm who will be responsible for the cost. For example, you can cover groceries, while your partner pays the utility bills each month. Together, you should decide what is a fair share of financial obligations.
When Times Get Tough
The true test of your relationship is not your shared priorities, but instead how well you handle hardships together. Don't feel any shame if you and your partner must re-assess your financial goals based on unforeseen circumstances.
A savings account will save your marriage. In the unfortunate case that you or your spouse urgently require money to pay for medical costs or car repairs, an emergency savings account will come in handy. Consider a high interest savings account, so that your money grows over time instead of sitting stagnant in a current account.
Buy term life insurance to protect your loved one's life. Topics like death and disability are hard for couples to breach, but it's important that you and your partner have a plan if the worst case scenario were to ever happen. In the early stages for your life together, you don't even need to spend hundreds on an extensive whole life insurance policy. In fact, a term life insurance policy is a great way to provide financial protection against these outcomes, so that your partner and children won't be left with large amounts of debt after you die. By buying life insurance and nominating your spouse as the beneficiary, you won't need to worry about their financial wellbeing since they will receive your life insurance payout.