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Blog | Ways for couples to navigate 'shared' finances

Alison Dellow
Private Client Adviser
22 Jan 2020

Moving in with your partner is one of the most exciting times in any relationship. You learn so much about each other’s habits and quirks ( the good and not so great…. eek!). Couples may be open to sharing all sorts of things like the grocery shopping, household chores and most importantly TV time but when it comes to money, there’s a little more to think about.

Talk about your goals

Have a sound understanding of your goals as a couple. Is marriage on the horizon? Are you both taking a gap year from your careers to travel for a couple of years? Is having a baby or even buying your family home on the horizon? Being on the same page with each other is very important to start building a strong foundation for your future.

Have a game plan for your expenses

Things would be far simpler if you and your partner earned the same amount of money but this is rarely the case where splitting the expenses 50-50 may or may not work. The lower earner might be stretched beyond their means which could create stress and resentment.

There is no right or wrong way to organise your finances as a couple and most importantly, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

You could pay the rent and your partner covers the groceries and utilities, or you may decide together that splitting all costs evenly works best for you. If the latter is the case, you could open a joint bank account and direct enough to cover your joint expenses per month. One thing I’ve learnt is to automate this as much as you can. If my partner and I need $2,000 per month to cover expenses, I would set up an automatic transfer of $250 per week into the joint account. Another tip would be to check in with one another. With a glass of wine in hand or a tub of ice cream, schedule some time to go through your budget and expenses and use this time to see if you’re on track with your financial goals.

Sharing is caring

If you’re both on the same page with goals and habits and all, you could consider using both your names on services such as utilities and phone bills as this will make you equally responsible. You could also share costs such as private health insurance. If you individually have private health insurance, it could be cheaper to share a couple’s plan compared to paying for two singles plans. Another idea to note on the general insurance is that insurers often give family discounts on multiple policies such as car insurance so make sure you do your homework to see if you can save some valuable money – money that could go towards your next trip or your home deposit.

Have an exit strategy

I know, it’s not romantic but we have to keep things real. While you’re wrapped up in the excitement of moving to a new level as a couple, the last thing you want to think about is the potential for that relationship to end. But it is always a possibility and it is important to protect yourself and your partner. You could think about having some savings in your own bank account to help you get back on your feet should anything happen or if you were to go down the legal route you could consider a binding financial agreement (BFA), also known as a prenup in the movies. A valid BFA outlines how your assets, financial resources and liabilities will be divided if your relationship breaks down.

At the end of the day, every couple is different and there is no cookie-cutter approach to finances. Sometimes talking about money can be hard but to build a solid foundation for your new life together it is very important to communicate with each other, take stock of where both of you are at, map out a game plan and check in with each other to ensure you are both on track to achieving your goals as a couple and creating the life you both want to live.

Hewison Private Wealth is a Melbourne based independent financial planning firm. Our financial advisers are highly qualified wealth managers and specialise in self managed super funds (SMSF), financial planning, retirement planning advice and investment portfolio management. If you would like to speak to a financial adviser on how you can secure your financial future please contact us 03 8548 4800, email info@hewison.com.au or visit www.hewison.com.auPlease note: The advice provided above is general information only and individuals should seek specialised advice from a qualified financial advisor. The views in this blog are those of the individual and may not represent the general opinion of the firm. Please contact Hewison Private Wealth for more information.