So, both of you have been in this relationship for a while now, and you know each other well enough. What’s the next step? Marriage? Moving in together? Hold your horses! The next step should be planning your joint finances. While this may sound like a drag, it’s a necessary discussion. Many relationships fail because of money. So, before you walk down the aisle with your Mr. or Mrs. Right, here are a few things to discuss so you can live happily ever after in financial harmony.
Talk money with your honey
It all starts with trust – an important factor in long-lasting relationships – and communication. Not being on the same page about your finances as a couple or not trusting each other with money could start (and prolong) arguments, which may put a strain on your relationship.
Always have regular and open conversations about what’s happening with regards to your finances. Keeping an honest line of communication about all things financial when you’re planning your next step together could help avoid unwanted disputes in the future.
Money matters to talk about with each other include:
- Debts and loans
Have a discussion on your plans to pay off any debt such as student loans, that may put a dent in your plans to build a cosy financial nest together. If you have co-signed a new home loan, mortgage payments will likely come into the picture. It can be divided evenly especially if you both earn about the same amount, or by percentage, based on your individual abilities to contribute monthly.
- Spending habits
You need to own up whether you have a shopping addiction or find it difficult to save money. Talk about what you prefer spending money on – perhaps on gastronomic adventures or on jewellery. This is where kakeibo may come in handy. It’s a Japanese method of mindful budgeting where you and your partner write down (or type) every expense you incur. A form of ‘finance journaling,’ kakeibo will make you more aware of your spending habits.
- Emergency fund
This is where it can get a little tricky. You would need to decide on how much each of you will be contributing to your shared emergency fund each month. It is important to have at least 6 to 9 months’ worth of expenses saved up in case of any emergencies. You might also want to discuss your needs and wants as these affect your calculation for expenses, and what an “emergency” means to both of you.
What’s mine and what’s ours?
There are several ways to manage your joint finances. Have a list of shared expenses and distribute the responsibilities among yourselves. Perhaps you would be in charge of paying for groceries and rent, while your partner pays for food, utilities, and your furkid’s necessities. Additionally, if you use the 50/30/20 rule, you will be able to budget better, while also keeping track of your joint financial health.
Some tools can also help both of you plan your finances and track your spending. The SC Money Manager, for instance, allows you to set your budgets, see clear breakdowns of your expenses and income, track where your credit card transactions are happening, and deploy all your banking needs from the palm of your hand.
You can also choose to have a joint savings account such as Standard Chartered’s Bonus$aver account1, which can allow you to earn higher interest from your deposits, offering up to 2.38% bonus interest per annum, on the first S$80,000 eligible balance, if you satisfy the relevant requirements.
With a joint savings account, not only will you have equal control over the money, but all transactions will be transparent. However, the amount you contribute may be more, less, or equal to your partner’s share due to individual commitments. Do discuss a comfortable middle ground with each other from early on to avoid any ill feelings – especially from the person who has seemingly gotten the shorter end of the stick.
In many cases, you might want to have your own savings account to build personal wealth and have the ability to contribute more to your future lives together. For this, do consider a savings account without monthly fees or fall-below fees. If the savings account offers you cashback on your debit card spend, that will enable you to offset some of your expenditures. Unsure of where to start? Check out the Standard Chartered JumpStart account2 – catered to Singaporean youths aged 18 to 26, this account has no monthly fees or fall-below fees, and enables you to grow your savings at .
Shared beliefs and plan future goals
This is when ‘the next step’ comes in. Sit down with your partner and draw up your financial plans. What are you saving money for? What does your financial future look like? Discuss about your shared financial goals and work towards them. Perhaps it is to achieve FIRE around the same time and enjoy your early retirement by travelling the world?
It is important to set S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goal. For example, instead of saying “let’s save for a BTO”, specify your goals with dollar amounts and a time limit such as “let’s save S$30,000 for a BTO down payment in 2 years”. After setting clear financial goals, break them down into bite-sized goals like “to reach S$30,000 in 2 years, that’s S$1,250 per month or S$312.50 per week”.
Quantifying your goals will help you track your milestones better and be more effective at managing your financial goalposts.
Your financial direction may change as you both grow together on your relationship journey. Regularly check in with your partner to make sure your financial plan is right on track and make adjustments as necessary. No matter how you and your bae decide to reach your financial goals, be sure to do it as a shared objective, and keep practising open communication.
Terms and Conditions
1Please visit https://www.sc.com/sg/save/current-accounts/bonussaver/ for more information and the Bonus$aver Product Terms.
2Please visit https://www.sc.com/sg/save/savings-accounts/jumpstart/ for more information and the JumpStart Account Product Terms.
Singapore dollar deposits of non-bank depositors are insured by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation, for up to S$75,000 in aggregate per depositor per Scheme member by law. Foreign currency deposits, dual currency investments, structured deposits and other investment products are not insured.
This article is brought to you by Standard Chartered Bank (Singapore) Limited. All information provided is for informational purposes only.