Nothing kills a romantic mood like talking about money but if you’re thinking about getting hitched, you’ll want to make sure you and your partner have gone over your personal finances. While conversations are not necessary easy or fun, they must happen.
Couples have to work together as a team, and coming up with effective strategies is going to be the most important part about combining your finances. There are two stages of conversations you should have – big picture conversations and logistical conversations. We spoke to Daniel Tan, Co-Chair, Membership & Public Education Board, Financial Planning Association of Singapore (FPAS) about the common financial mistakes made by newly-weds and important financial conversations that must be had by couples.
Daniel shares with us some of the common financial mistakes made by newly-weds:
Here are the conversations to have to avoid making financial mistakes as a couple:
Spending or saving habits
More often than not, the two of you do not have the same spending or savings habits. Our spending and saving habits give insights into priorities, both financial and otherwise as we tend to spend money on things we feel are most important. Not agreeing on spending priorities can lead to serious conflicts down the line. While there is no right and wrong answer regarding priorities and habits, it’s valuable to know and understand each other’s habits earlier rather than later.
Individual financial goals
Whether it’s owning a vacation home or travelling to exotic places, your financial goals may not always be in sync. We all have different thoughts on retirement or the kind of lifestyle we want to live.
Daniel stresses that it is beyond important for couples to communicate and understand each other’s financial goals and commitments.
Financial goals lead to family planning. Some of the important questions to ask according to Daniel.
These are just some of the questions that have to be discussed between the two of you. You will need to come to an agreement on these goals as you are now going to function as a family unit. Important decisions have to be taken together as a couple.
Money is a very sensitive topic and everyone has different fears about money, depending on the upbringing. Feelings about risk and money are deeply rooted in past experiences. Your family may have gone through periods of unemployment or you may have grown up taking financial security for granted.
Everyone brings a different level of comfort when it comes to risk tolerance and it has an impact on spending and savings habits – everything from where you invest to how much money you want to set aside. Money provides a level of security that can be very powerful and risk tolerance is directly linked to that feeling of security.
A good start is to understand your partner’s financial background and philosophy, by asking questions such as: How do you approach money? What did your parents teach you about money?
In Asian culture, it is not uncommon for children to support their parents as most Asian children have been brought up in extended or multi-generational families. Caring for elderly parents is a long-term expense you will be facing as a young couple.
Divvying up the bills
This is an important conversation about how you will manage your money together. Will you have separate or joint accounts? Who will be responsible for paying the bills and investing long-term goals?
A realistic understanding both of your incomes and debts is important so you can draft a realistic budget based on your combined income and expenses.