Five financial questions for your new fiancée
How are we going to finance the wedding?
The average wedding in the UK now costs upwards of £20,000, a hefty sum by any stretch of the imagination.
Before you start planning, have a calm and realistic discussion with your partner about the budget and where the money is going to come from. Will parents cover the costs? If so, which set? How much will you yourselves contribute, and how will you pay? With a credit card? A loan? Cash savings?
Remember that – as wonderful as a wedding day is – starting your married life deeply in debt can limit your options for years to come. For some couples the sacrifice is well worth it, but it’s vital that both partners are on the same page.
How much do you make… and owe?
Hopefully you’ll have already had a frank discussion with your partner about their financial situation – and, of course, your own. But if you haven’t, you need to ask now.
Regardless of whether you and your partner decide to combine finances once you tie the knot your lifestyles will be deeply dependant on the other’s financial situation.
Financial imbalances – whether theyr’e down to different salaries or disparate debt burdens – can seriously impact your life together (unless solo dinners out and separate holidays appeal to you).
It’s important to know how much each partner makes, how much debt they carry and their attitude towards saving before making a lifelong commitment. It’s also important to hammer out how you’ll plug any gaps in disposable income, whatever the source of the disparity. This way you can identify any sources of friction before they threaten the stability of your relationship.
Where do you see yourself living in ten years?
Attitudes to property are incredibly important – after all, a house or flat is often the most significant investment a couple will make. Regardless of whether you see yourself renting in London for the rest of your life or a house in the country is your only driving goal, you need to be in agreement with your partner.
Buying a house often involves huge financial and lifestyle sacrifices, hopefully in return for increased security and the hope of capital appreciation. Both partners need to agree on how far they’re willing to go for a home to call their own.
Will we pay for our children’s education?
Having children of university age may be a decade away or more, but with tuition fees on the march it’s vital to start planning for education costs early.
How much a couple supports their children through university – and, depending on whether economy improves, into early adulthood as well – is an entirely personal choice. But if you do decide that establishing your children is important get plans in place as quickly as possible. If you disagree, try to come to some sort of compromise so that you can present a united front when the time comes.
Who will see us through retirement?
Retirement may seem like a lifetime away, but our twilight years require a lifetime of preparation. Decisions you make now will seriously impact your quality of life in retirement, so this is a vital discussion to have with your partner.
Quickly go through how much each partner has in their pension pots, then look to the future. If one partner plans to take time off from work to raise children – or even take more than one period of parental leave – their pension pot could suffer considerably. Will the working partner save enough for both retirements? Will both partners continue to work?
You may be deeply in love now, but relying on someone else to support you through old age is a risky proposition. If you do plan to quit work consider visiting a financial adviser and a solicitor to secure your position.