“Talking Money” – for Couples only We women (and men!) have been taking care of our own money matters for years. Then – pow! – we get married, and everything changes. Not only have we entered a legally binding partnership. In most cases our money has too. Suddenly there are two people who want to take financial decisions affecting the household. How to make sure that each spouse’s money sense is well-served? In fact, disagreement over money matters is one of the leading predictors of divorce. Disagreement will be most marked when partners are in the dark about their spouse’s preferred handling of money matters. Hence, it’s best to start and honest, respectful discussion about how a couple will deal with finances together as soon as it’s clear that marriage is in the offing. Figure out together what your individual and mutual goals are. Then come up with a strategy, perhaps based on the following ideas, to reach those goals.

  • Money Talk #1: Regular “money talk” dates

Good communication between you and your partner is important in setting the stage for a healthy financial relationship. You can start by setting regular sessions dedicated to sharing financial experiences, current standing, and future goals. Pick a few topics to cover, and set a specific time and place to talk about them. Finances can be a complicated subject so you and your partner will want to schedule your money dates when both of you are focused but relaxed. Take turns asking, listening to and answering questions. How do you like to manage your finances? What are your financial priorities? What are your short-term and long-term financial goals? Make an effort to listen to your partner, and be forthcoming with your own answers. Sharing these personal thoughts with each other will facilitate understanding of each other’s financial values. That will enable you to start devising a financial plan that both of you are comfortable with.

  • Money Talk #2: Clarify your assets and income

Discuss how much each of you make, how much you own, and how much you save. This is particularly important if you are planning to make a big purchase in the near future. Perhaps you are still preparing for your dream wedding. Or maybe you and your spouse are looking for a new home or getting ready for the arrival of your first baby. The first few years of a marriage are dotted with lots of large expenses such as the wedding, honeymoon, downpayment on your house and mortgage. If you have not yet built up a savings reserve, now is the time to ramp up your efforts. Try to have at least a six-month cushion to help you pay for large expenses.

  • Money Talk #3: Discuss debts and expenses

In addition to assets and income, talk about how much you owe and how much you spend. Excessive debt can be an obstacle to achieving your shared financial goals. Do you have an outstanding balance on your student loan? Does he have a lot of credit card debt? Before getting married, find a solution to significantly reduce debt. It may be easier for the two of you to merge your finances with no outstanding balances to get in the way. If you are already married, you may choose to handle your debts separately through your individual accounts. Otherwise, you may want to help each other erase outstanding balances and achieve financial freedom for your household as soon as possible. Be open with each other about all of your debts and large expenses. Then you can work together to come up with a viable strategy to alleviate them. Related: Clear Debts Fast: Getting Your Financial Situation in Order

  • Money Talk #4: Determine your credit scores

Your credit scores can affect your chances of getting a home loan, car loan or business loan approved. It is best to be aware of each other’s credit scores and help each other improve your ratings if need be. You can purchase your credit report and view your credit score for SGD 6.42 at the Credit Bureau website. .

  • Money Talk #5: Take advantage of employee benefits

Go over your employee benefits to learn more about how you and your future family can make the most of your or your spouse’s package. One of your employers may have a better health insurance policy than the other. Are you getting ready for a baby? It may be worthwhile to know which company offers better health insurance for pregnant women. Weigh up the advantages of each spouse’s benefits plan in relation to your own lifestyle and your path ahead as a couple.

  • Money Talk #6: Consider a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement

A prenuptial agreement can help protect the assets that you build up over the years so that they can be handed down to your children in the event of divorce or even death. Are you already married? It is not too late. You can still set down your wishes for the future of your assets through a postnuptial agreement.

  • Money Talk #7: Write your wills and take out life insurance

Once you have gone over all of your personal figures, including your assets and debts, revisit your estate planning and life insurance policy. Remember to always keep the beneficiaries in these plans updated – something especially relevant in the event of a birth or death in the family. While it may not be a cheerful process, it is best to be prepared for anything the future may bring. Tragedies do occur, and addressing your wills and life insurance policies can help you both feel better about the security of your loved ones.

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).