GUEST COLUMN: Finding marital bliss

Here are some tips to ensure future financial peace for you and your spouse

If you’re in the process of planning your wedding, you’ve likely got lots on your mind, from choosing invitations to finding the perfect dress or suit. But in the rush to plan your wedding, don’t overlook your finances.

Couples often get so bogged down in the minor details surrounding their wedding that they tend to put aside decisions about their finances. Money has become a subject couples tend to avoid, but addressing it head-on can help you and your spouse to get on the same page, so that you can reach your financial goals together.

Here are some tips to ensure future financial bliss for you and your spouse.

Discuss your financial goals – It is important that couples are on the same page and are working towards the same goals. Do you want to save for a home? Do you plan on having kids? Are vacations important to you? When do you want to retire? In addition to discussing your financial goals, you should discuss your spending habits and attitudes towards money. If there are major differences, determine how they will be resolved – before you get married. It can also be helpful to develop a budget together as a couple, which can help you assess where your money is going, spot any problem areas, and keep you on track to achieving your long-term goals.

Single or joint accounts – Couples often have trouble deciding whether they should pool their money together or keep separate accounts. Joint accounts will prove handy for taking care of shared expenses, like the rent or mortgage, even just the groceries. Even so, many experts recommend that each spouse maintain a separate account in his or her own name to have their own spending money and maintain some independence.

Sharing credit cards – Some experts don’t recommend that couples share credit cards, however, it is often more practical to track expenses on one card. Having separate credit cards, in addition to a joint one, enables both partners to continue to maintain their independent credit rating.

Marriage contracts (pre-nuptual agreements) – With so many individuals getting married at a later stage in their professional lives, many couples come into the marriage as more established individuals with a larger asset base that they may wish to protect. While negotiating a prenup can be trying, it can also be an opportunity for couples to examine how they expect to manage their financial affairs, to make appropriate financial plans, and to ensure that they are on the same page. It can also save future heartache.

Retirement – Each spouse should consider a strategy to build up their registered retirement portfolio. Ultimately you will be sharing in the retirement income that you both accumulate, so it is important that you both take the time to discuss how you wish to approach this and take advantage of any tax advantages or income-splitting opportunities along the way.

Think about insurance – Everyone who enjoys good health hopes it will last for a lifetime. But sometimes life throws a curve. While insurance can’t prevent that from happening, it can help you cope. It is important that you analyze your situation and answer questions such as: How much insurance do I need? Which family members or business partners should be insured?  What type of life insurance is best?

Kirbey Lockart is an investment advisor with RBC Dominion Securities. This article is provided for information purposes only.