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Say 'I do' to these top finance tips for newlyweds

Whether you’re getting married, having a baby, or simply moving in together, you and your partner want to create a firm foundation for a long and happy life together. So it’s worth sitting down together for a serious discussion about money.

Your matrimonial money checklist:

1. Get organised 

Make a list of all income, assets and debts, including credit cards and loans that you each bring into the marriage. Decide how you will own assets, whether jointly or individually.

2. Make it official

Create a Will. Consider naming your partner as a beneficiary on any investment accounts that are in your name only and submitting a death benefit nomination with your super fund.

3. Put it together

From debts to investments, see if it makes sense to simplify by combining some accounts. Many couples like the convenience of having their retirement savings, cheque, and credit card accounts with one financial institution and on a minimum of statements.

4. Plan together

Agree upfront about day-to-day spending, as well as big-ticket item purchases.

5. Undo your debt

It’s common for one partner to come into a relationship with more debt, or to differ on how much debt is OK.

To get started, list all income streams and expenses. Build a savings plan into your budget and set aside money for your emergency fund, at least three months’ worth of living expenses.

Lisa Duggan, a financial adviser with Epona Financial Guidance, says "often couples don’t like to talk money early in their relationship because it’s not considered very romantic". But she says it can be a big mistake not to talk about your finances before making a lifelong commitment.

"It can be awkward raising the topic of money, but it’s important to work through issues like how you’re going to manage money when you get married and whether you are going to have joint or separate accounts. There can be a stigma about keeping separate accounts, but having a joint account might not be the right thing for every couple," says Duggan.

Savers and spenders can live together; they just have to have strategies in place to balance out their differences

Set financial goals

As well as day-to-day decisions about who pays for what, you need to talk about your longer-term financial goals. Not only because that conversation will give you clear direction, helping to avoid disagreements in the future, but also because it will quickly reveal your attitudes towards money.

Savers and spenders can live together; they just have to have strategies in place to balance out their differences. Compromise is the key. However if your financial outlooks are seemingly incompatible, then it’s something that needs to be addressed before you settle down.

Plan your future

Duggan says couples also need to address the issue of money not just at the start of their relationship, but at regular intervals throughout it.

"It’s about communicating on a regular basis about budget and cash flow. You also need to decide who’s going to be in charge of things like paying bills," she says. "But even if one person has day-to-day control of the household’s finances, both sides need to be fully informed about the partnership’s financial situation."

Get advice

Given the importance of money in a relationship, seeing a financial adviser when you settle down can be enormously helpful. An adviser can help you set goals, resolve the questions you are grappling with, and raise other important issues you may not have thought of, such as insurance to take care of your partner if something were to happen to you.

When things don’t go to plan

Although the end of the partnership is usually the last thing on your mind when you’re getting married or moving in together, it’s worth having a discussion about what would happen financially if the relationship breaks up.

The aim is to give both partners peace of mind, knowing that their interests and their financial contribution will be respected if things don’t go to plan.

Disclaimer
Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFSL 232468 (Colonial First State) is the issuer of the FirstChoice range of super and pension products from the Colonial First State FirstChoice Superannuation Trust ABN 26 458 298 557. Colonial First State also issues interests in products made available under FirstChoice Investments and FirstChoice Wholesale Investments. This document may include general advice but does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Financial Services Guide (FSG) carefully, assess whether the information is appropriate for you, and consider talking to a financial adviser before making an investment decision. The PDS and FSG can be obtained from colonialfirststate.com.au or by calling us on 13 13 36.