When you are married (or in a de facto relationship) you work together to achieve goals in life, and it should be no different with financial fitness. Married couples on average accumulate greater wealth than single people as they can pool their resources and take advantage of economies of scale (think “bulk discounts”).
The starting point for all good teams is communication. Like other topics in your marriage you should get on the same page. Money can be a difficult topic to discuss so we have prepared some questions refer to help you broach it with your partner. Remember that we all have different attitudes and ability to manage money and you should be open and try not to judge.
Once you are on the same page and understand your starting point you should set joint financial goals so that you both know what you are working towards. This could be to do a stocktake of your joint money position, setting a budget and saving for something or reviewing your insurance. Whilst both parties do not need to make exactly the same contribution to each goal, you should be honest with one another about how you will play your part and help to hold each other accountable
Complete a stocktake of your accounts and (using the information on f-empowered) think about the best way to set these up. Consider your goals, your money flow (how money comes in and how it’s spent/ saved) and who will manage each financial aspect. Also consider which elements are joint and which are managed individually. When possible avoid duplication of accounts to minimise bank fees.
For example, you might choose to retain a transaction account each which your pay goes into and that you manage individually and then have a joint transaction account for joint expenses that you each contribute to. And on the savings front, rather than maintain separate savings accounts you could open a joint one for your shared savings goals.
Get quotes on health insurance as a couple, often for the same level of health insurance coverage it will be cheaper to combine policies rather than have individual ones. This is also the time to reconsider the level of health cover that you have, especially if you are planning to have children as you may need to upgrade your cover to include pregnancy.
You should also look at how you are protecting your things such as property, home contents and cars. Ensure that you have combined your home contents insurance and that the amount that is covered (taking into account any special or valuable items they you both own) is adequate and that both your names are on the policy. The same applies for cars, where necessary ensure your partner is included as a named driver on your policy so that they are covered when they drive your car too.
This is a big one now that you are not only thinking about yourself. Have a think about and discuss how you would cope if one of you were to be seriously injured/ill or passed away unexpectedly. There are products such as life and total disability insurance (provide links to prior content) and trauma insurance that will pay out in the event of death, disability or illness. Having these in place a mean the difference between one partner being able to cope financially if something happened to the other or having to make significant adjustments to their lifestyle.
Equally you should review (or consider if you don’t have it already) your income protection insurance and ensure that the coverage is adequate taking into account your partner and their circumstances.
Personal insurance is complicated and it may be worth seeking advice from a financial planner.
Will that have been prepared before you are married will become void (unless they were written in contemplation of marriage). Also it is very likely that your wishes would change considerably now that you have a partner and so your estate plan should be reviewed anyway. When completing your wills, don’t forget to also revise any enduring powers or attorney and guardianship documents.
An additional consideration these days are digital assets, will you or your partner be able to access things like digital photos, music and videos if one partner is gone unexpectedly? Or will these things be locked behind computer asswords and logins. Sharing passwords may not be for everyone (and is often a breach of terms and conditions of services such as banking) but knowing how to access important digital assets should be a consideration.
The final thing to remember is to contact your superannuation fund and ensure that you have amended the beneficiary or your superannuation and any insurance in your superannuation to your partner (and/or children) if this is your wish.