Opinion 

For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in wealth

Alistair Wilson

Money worries are reportedly the number one reason for break-ups, leading to one in 10 married couples getting divorced.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is doomed if you’re not sure how to handle your finances as a couple, but it does highlight the importance of knowing how to avoid any major pitfalls. 

Here are some steps for advisers to help get newly-weds and the not-so-recently married, started:

1.    Be open about your finances

Before you start looking at the different ways of combining your finances, it’s important to have an understanding of your partner’s financial situation, as well as being open about your own.

For example, has your partner ever been in debt, or do they have a bad credit score meaning they’ll likely be turned down for a mortgage? Knowing this prior to any decision making will help you avoid damaging your own finances.

2.    Explore every option

There are various ways of combining finances, whether a couple chooses to open a joint bank account, a savings account or a combined account for joint bills and separate accounts for personal spending - you can discover what works best for the relationship. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, so it’s always best to shop around.

3.    Make it clear from the outset who can afford what

The accepted rule for putting into a joint account or savings account is knowing from the outset who pays what, and to where.

Outlining what you can afford and following an agreed financial plan means that finances are less likely to be an issue throughout your relationship. 

4.    Who is the money manager?

Some couples find it easier for one person to take the reins and manage the family finances.

If a couple decides that one person will be in charge of monthly outgoings, such as bills, be sure the other spouse is aware of what and how much is owed.

5.    If you like it, then you should have put insurance on it 

It’s not just bank accounts and savings that couples need to think about, but personal assets too, including property and highly valuable items such as jewellery.

With Christmas having been and gone, and Valentine’s Day upon us, it’s important to make sure that jewellery is insured.

While the sentimental value can’t be bought, having insurance in place will help to replace any items.

Our claims data shows that last year the average claim cost for jewellery was £1,039.59, proving just how costly a mistake it can be if an item is lost or stolen.

6.    Plan ahead for future goals
Discuss long-term savings goals, such as a house deposit, and create a savings plan to achieve what you'll need for your down payment.

Putting an equal amount of money into an Isa will help it to accumulate wealth over time. When it comes to putting down that deposit for a house, or buying a new car, couples will know it was a joint effort.

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