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Keeping financially fit

It’s healthy for couples to review their finances at regular intervals as they work to achieve their goals. It also helps to have the right professional support team in place.

Financial fitness checklist

It is important for couples to regularly review their financial situation. This allows time for money-specific conversations. It’s also a great opportunity to talk about what you’ve done well as a couple financially and what your future aspirations as a couple are.
 

You could:
 

  • Have ‘money dates’ about your finances regularly e.g. monthly or quarterly.
  • Review your expenses from time to time (say, every 3 or 4 months) against your income and how you are tracking with your budget. This might also be when you look around for a better deal on your energy, telco or insurance bills.
  • Talk about future significant expenses (car or home repairs, travel, changes in work or personal circumstances) or purchases. If you want to make a significant purchase or change, discuss it openly and financially plan for it.
  • Meet with a financial adviser and/or accountant at least once per year for an overall financial health check.
  • Update legal documents (such as your Will) for any changes in family circumstances.
     

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De facto relationships.

Do you know when you are in a de facto relationship? Even if no legal ceremony has taken place, a de facto relationship has legal standing. This is important to understand because of the legal and financial implications if you ever separate. If you’re not sure about the legal standing of your relationship, always check with the Attorney-General’s department or a reputable family law specialist.
 

You may be in a de facto relationship if:
 

  • You have combined finances, or health insurance or payments, such as loans, together.
  • Registration of a de facto relationship has been made in a state or territory that requires relationships to be registered.
  • You are in an intimate relationship and living together.
  • You are living together in a genuine domestic relationship for two or more years.
  • You have children or support children together.
  • The joint ownership, use and acquisition of property exists between you.
  • You attend functions together such as weddings, engagement parties, family gatherings and other functions.

Your professional support team.

Having a professional, reliable and trusted team that you could turn to for guidance and assistance is invaluable. Your team supporting your relationship from a financial, legal and emotional basis may include:
 

  • Relationship counsellor/family psychologist. Talking to an independent party when things are going well creates a wonderful foundation to openly discussing challenges if they arise.
  • Accountant. Being in a marriage or de facto relationship means potential changes to your financial and tax affairs so consider getting professional advice on financial and tax-related matters such as whether to lodge your tax returns together or independently.
  • Financial Adviser. A financial planner or adviser could help offer financial strategies and advice about how to keep moving towards financial security and managing assets and investments.
  • Legal advice about financial agreements and/or Wills. When you become a married or de facto couple it is important to get legal advice to discuss your situation, especially if you each bring different assets to the relationship. You may want to consider documenting your assets, including those acquired after you married or began living together, as well as formalising in a Will any wishes or instructions you would like followed.

Remember to regularly check in with your professional team and update your documentation as your circumstances change.