Here are some questions to ask each other to ensure that financially, you’re on the same page.
Do you want to combine your money into a joint account?
Agreeing whether you want to combine your money in a joint account, keep separate bank accounts or have a mix of both is a good starting point. There’s no right or wrong answer. Make sure you also discuss what happens if either of you gets an unexpected windfall like a bonus.
Do you have any debt?
Find out if your partner has any ongoing financial obligations, such as outstanding credit card or loan debt, mortgage repayments or commitments such as child support. Factor these into any discussions, particularly if you are saving for something together or pooling your incomes into a joint account.
Are you more of a saver or a spender?
Find out if your partner lives paycheque–to-paycheque or prefers to save or invest their cash. Some people are OK with spontaneous spending, others are not. While their answer may not impact you now, it may when you choose to save up for something major like a deposit for your first home or a holiday.
Do you budget for things?
This goes hand-in-hand with your partner’s saving habits. Some people are meticulous with their budgeting (using apps to keep track of their budget), others are a little less strict in their approach and many don’t budget at all.
What’s your credit history?
Often dismissed as being unimportant, your partner’s answer to this question could determine whether you get credit approval from a Bank. It’s never a good idea to hide credit/debt issues from your partner especially if you’re still tackling them. Problems with credit will surface when you apply for things like a personal or home loan, credit card or rental approval together.
Will we live off one or two incomes?
Probably best to pick your moment with this one – it’s often prompted by a discussion about having children and taking paternity leave. And it may prompt you to review your approach to having separate bank accounts.
Do you have any investments?
It’s worth knowing about your partner's overall financial position, particularly if you're considering investing together. You and/or your partner might also be financially impacted as investments rise and fall.
How much have you got in your super fund?
You may be a while away from retiring (or possibly not). Regardless, it’s important to keep an eye on how much money you’ve both got in your super funds. You might want to consider topping up your super through contributions.
Understanding each other’s attitude to money then agreeing on how, as a couple, you’ll manage your money is crucial for both your relationship and financial future. If your approaches are quite different, particularly in the spending and saving area, you could try some simple budgeting activities as a first step. ASIC's MoneySmart website might also be able to help.