We know the word “finance” doesn’t have the most romantic undertones but unfortunately it can’t be overlooked, as research from the Australian Government indicates the way finances are handled in a marriage may contribute to overall dissatisfaction as a couple.
But by taking some time to plan and prepare for married life, you can get ahead financially and save yourself from money marital woes.
Here’s what you should consider when merging your love and money:
1. Name changes
While changing your last name after marriage isn’t a must these days, it’s still a tradition that many women continue to adopt, as the Bride to Be’s Cost of Love survey showed 82% of brides still plan to take their husband’s surname.
So will you be changing your last name or hyphenating it after you tie the knot? If you answered “yes” read on, if not skip to point 2.
What you’ll need to know:
Once you’ve picked up your marriage certificate from the Births, Deaths and Marriages office in your state (costing around $50) you can begin the life changing, albeit time consuming task of switching over all your docs to your new last name. You’ll need to contact your bank, super and utility (gas, electricity, internet, phone) providers to change the name on your formal documents, as well as making the change on your driver’s licence and passport, which can all be done for FREE.
2. Create a joint budget
The first step to organising your personal finances after tying the knot is working out where both of your cash goes - personal loans, credit cards, car repayments - and the easiest way to do this is by using an online budget calculator.
The most important thing is to be honest with each other because a $10,000 credit card debt isn’t going to disappear anytime soon and working as a team will help you hack away at it sooner.
3. Make your partner your beneficiary
Have you ever thought about what happens to your hard earned super in the case of death? While it may be something that no one wants to think (let alone talk) about, it’s a good idea to nominate your spouse as your beneficiary to ensure they receive your benefits if you pass away. The superannuation provider should have an online form you can fill out and return to them in order to add your partner as your beneficiary and vice versa.
4. Set up everything in BOTH your names
Don’t fall into the trap of keeping all your utility bills, finances (credit cards, personal loans) and property in your partner’s name as it could affect you in the case of divorce or death. For example, as a couple you may have been a prime candidate for everything from a credit card to a home loan but if something happens and you’re again operating as a single, it’s important you have your own credit history.
5. Keep some financial independence
While there’s nothing wrong with merging your finances after marriage (in fact it can be a great way to come together and work as a team), this doesn’t mean your partner should have total control over the accounts and what you spend.
That’s why it’s wise to keep your financial independence by having full access to everything from your savings accounts to joint bank accounts. Because the days of pocket money are loooong gone. A good idea is to agree on a saving and spending amount each month which you both can use to play with as you please.