Explore these strategies to help you budget, make financial plans, insure and invest for your shared future with your life partner together.
Boy meets girl. Courtship begins, romance blossoms. True love reigns despite having differences, they decide to get married or live together.
That’s the typical storyline of the romantic comedy many of us are familiar with. Sadly, couplehood is not a bed of roses. There will be challenges and a couple has to tackle many things together - kids, in-laws, juggling family and career, among many others.
But one of the most important is finances. If not properly sorted, conflicts in financial management can be a major source of tension in a romantic relationship.
There are a few areas couples will need to work through together before they can ensure that their partnership continues well into the happy ever after.
1. Budget together
Some like to squeeze from the bottom, others like to start at the middle. Toothpaste-squeezing may not seem like an important factor but learning about each other’s habits will go a long way in avoiding quarrels and soothing discontent.
The same goes for learning about each other’s spending habits. What does the other like to spend on, and what cannot be compromised? Some couples like to share all expenses, while others prefer to separate personal, discretionary spending from a common household budget.
Now comes an even dicier question: How much does each person contribute to the budgeted expenditure? Couples with similar salaries may opt for a 50-50 split or to combine their incomes in a joint bank account.
But what if your incomes differ widely, or one party has more debt to pay off? One way to split the bills is the proportional method: Alan and Ann earn $2,000 and $4,000 respectively, so he will pay one-third of the total monthly bills while she pays the remaining two-thirds, based on their proportional share of their combined incomes.
There are pros and cons to each contribution strategy. What’s important is that the couple communicates clearly about what meets their budgeting needs best. This will lay a strong foundation for determining the next step: Your long-term financial plan.
2. Plan for major milestones
Once the budget has been set, you can start talking about the Big Things. Like having kids, or buying a car or upgrading your home. Don’t forget retirement as well.
Set these milestones out and remember that they are not set in stone because life is unpredictable. Still, it is useful to have an overall plan and a big part of that plan will be about how you are going to finance those dreams.
3. Two is better than one
Whether to have a joint or separate accounts is a matter of preference.
Keeping separate accounts may help avoid friction, especially if the couple experiences “saver-versus-spender” clashes.
On the other hand, there are benefits to keeping it together, such as the ease of tracking combined incomes and expenditures in one account. A larger pool of money can also help you avoid incurring minimum balance service charge, while attracting higher interest.
Look for products that can help your money work harder for you, such as Maybank’s Save Up Programme. You can earn up to 3% per annum on your first $50,000 of deposit with this programme when both you and your partner consolidate your spending, payments and wealth investments in one account.
For most credit cards, as the principal cardholder, you can consider giving your partner a supplementary card so that expenses can be tracked effectively, and both of you spend jointly to hit the minimum spend faster. Maybank Family & Friends Card is a prime example that rewards up to 8% cashback for a combined monthly spend of S$800 and above.
4. Insure and invest
Budgeting and saving is just the first part of the plan. Couples will also need to start thinking about protection and investing for the future.
Insurance can play a big role in safeguarding your loved ones and yourself. Consider the newly launched Essential Term Life Cover, a regular premium non-participating level term plan that pays out the sum insured upon the death or terminal illness of the life insured. The plan provides your desired coverage and allows you to choose from a wide range of policy term at an affordable cost to suit your protection needs. It also gives you the option to enhance your coverage with Extra disability care rider to be covered against total and permanent disability.
Investing is another must-do for couples. You may have different investing ideas, but consistently investing a fixed sum - as little as S$100 - together each month with a long-term view can be a good way to meet your joint investment goals. By taking advantage of dollar-cost averaging, you can potentially lower the average cost of your investments over time, rather than trying to time the market.