Getting engaged is one of those “happily ever after” moments many people dream about. The anticipation of planning a wedding, and not to mention the rest of your life with someone, sure does call for celebration. But what other factors are there to consider? There are a few conversations that should broach with your partner at this stage of life — such as finances, your wills and Life Insurance.
This article will delve into some of the discussions couples might consider having when they get engaged. Being prepared for your future lives together is top priority, but where to start?
A joining together of lives — and finances!
It’s probably no surprise to hear that weddings can be quite the expense — the average cost of a wedding in New Zealand is $30,000 (and the wedding is only the beginning!) It’s a good idea to talk about what other financial goals you have and plan for those, too. Do you want to save to travel, buy a house or maybe both? Are children in your future plans? Get a clear budget outlined for your wedding, while being mindful of your other financial goals.
If you’re planning a wedding, it’s likely you’ll need to tighten those purse strings! Start by getting clear visibility over your finances. Ask yourselves: where is the bulk of our disposable income going? Could we be putting more money into savings? A lot of these questions prompt couples to asking a very “adult” question:
Should we open a joint bank account?
While joint bank accounts may not be as popular as it once was, it might be a good step to consider. Finances can be a point of tension in some relationships, so set clear expectations with your partner, and be sure to have ongoing conversations around each others’ spending habits. A joint account can be a great way to manage your incomes, especially if you’re working towards the same financial goals.
There are no rules when it comes to having a joint bank account. You could start off simple and just have a joint savings account. There’s plenty of advice available on joint bank accounts - have a read and set yourselves some clear rules. For example, you and your partner might:
Agree to contribute $X into your joint savings account each payday
Set yourselves a spending limit each week to align with your budget
Sit down together once a month to look at your spending habits and chat through how it’s going.
When you’re married you’ll be sharing a lot of things - you might have the same last name, own a home together or welcome a child, so sharing a bank account could be a great starting point.
Prenuptial Agreements & wills
There’s a lot of unsolicited advice that comes with getting engaged: “wait at least three days before announcing your engagement on social media!” or “don’t spend a fortune on the wedding - there will be nothing left over for your honeymoon!” Unsolicited advice is part and parcel of getting married. That aside, there is some advice worth paying attention to, before you tie the knot.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement and should we get one?
In New Zealand, if a couple choose to get divorced all relationship property is generally divided equally. A Prenuptial Agreement, or “prenup” is a legal document that details what will happen to your joint property should you and your partner separate. This agreement can reduce any potential conflict when going through a divorce.
In a prenup, you and your partner can stipulate:
What property is deemed “relationship property” and what is considered separate property that belongs to one person. (This property isn’t just a house, it can be other items like a car or jewellery, too).
How the relationship property should be divided, if different from the default 50-50 split.
Who will get property that can’t be divided - such as the family pet.
Prenups are often associated with celebrity Hollywood couples who want to protect their wealth before entering a relationship, but prenups are becoming more popular in New Zealand. This can be an awkward conversation to have (as usually people enter a marriage with the intention of it lasting!) however this isn’t always the case. Even if you and your partner decide against getting a prenup, it’s a worthwhile option to explore.
If you’re wondering how to get a prenup, chat to a lawyer. This isn’t usually a complicated process and can put some of the difficult questions surrounding divorce to rest.
Do I need a will?
Getting married is a good time to consider writing a will to ensure your last wishes are respected and your loved ones are taken care of if you were no longer around. A will is a legal document which clearly outlines how you’d like your assets and belongings to be distributed when you pass away.
Did you know that when you get married, the will you may have previously written is no longer valid? Marriage overrides a premarital will as you are legally bound to another person, meaning they have claim to 50 per cent of your assets.
Whether you already had a will pre-marriage and need to update it, or are considering getting one written, this is a really important conversation to have with your partner. How to make a will isn’t overly complicated and can be done by a lawyer or trustee company. Make sure you follow the proper process, such as getting witnesses and signing the will, as otherwise it may not be valid.
Financial Planning for the future
Saving for a wedding and your future together is certainly easier said than done. If you need some help getting started with your financial planning, Sorted.org.nz has some really useful tools to help you get on track towards your savings goals. Don’t get too carried away with the wedding budget (as exciting as it may be), remember to keep the future in mind. Try to not neglect your savings account for travelling, buying a house or retirement. Keep contributing to your Kiwisaver too.
In saying that, your savings focus will probably be on the wedding. Research the average costs of catering, drinks, photography, florals and other vendors, and get a realistic budget together. Shesaidyes.co.nz has some great information available for newly engaged couples!
It’s easy to focus on the short term costs associated with a wedding. But after the honeymoon tan fades, and you’ve paid off your wedding bands, it’s time to consider your financial future as a couple.
Getting Engaged and Life Insurance
Getting engaged is a good time to talk about Life Insurance with your partner, especially when you have the future in mind. Get a clear picture of whose income you rely on - just one person’s, or both?
Consider what life would be like if one of you were to unexpectedly pass away. Would you or your partner be able to cope with mortgage repayments, ongoing bills and funeral costs? Would you or your partner be financially worse off? If the answer is yes, then Life Insurance could be a worthwhile investment. This isn’t an enjoyable conversation to have, but setting a contingency plan in place can be really worthwhile.
Getting engaged can be a whirlwind of emotions. It’s easy to get consumed in wedding planning - but try not to lose sight of these important conversations and always prioritise them in your marriage. If you need any more advice, you can speak to a Cigna Insurance Adviser who can tailor an insurance policy to your needs and goals, simply email us and one of the team will be in touch otherwise you canget in touch with the Cigna team - we would love to help!