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How To Achieve Financial Bliss In Your Relationship

Tips to avoid having to argue over money (as much) down the road.

Romeo meets Juliet, they fall in love. But as with all relationships, problems will surface, eventually.

Falling in love is a beautiful and sweet experience in life and to prolong those positive vibes about your partner as long as possible, having a practical financial plan as your relationship backdrop will ensure you won’t argue over money and have major disagreements down the road.

In Singapore, women and men are seen almost as equals, and there is the expectation on both ends to keep to that. Women are expected to work and contribute to household expenses (unless for financial and practical reasons they decide on an alternate path). Men are also expected to bring home the bread and be dependable and reliable contributors.

As a couple goes on a life journey together, there will be some “financial pit stops” along the way that you will encounter. These “pit stops” will help check on each other’s financial hygiene and to figure out your compatibility.

Here are some “financial pit stops” from dating to becoming life partners for you to be better prepared in your pursuit of happiness.

Read Also: Here’s Why You Need To Optimise Your Savings Account Before Making Any Other Investments 

#1 Find Out Each Other’s Spending Habits And Debt Problems (If Any)

Stage Of Relationship: Dating/In A Relationship

While you wine and dine away and spend quality time together in the early days, do note the person’s spending habits on the back of your mind as you determine if this is The One. If the person is a large spender and prefers to eat at expensive restaurants and buy branded items, do ask yourself if you are okay with that lifestyle before committing further.

Lifestyle habits are unlikely to change after marriage/becoming life partners, so do find a person who suits your lifestyle habits. If you prefer to eat coffee shop food, it is completely okay to find someone who wants that too. Casually check in on your partner’s spending patterns to note if there are any risks of him/her hiding credit card debt or personal loans.

A person who overspends his/her income could be a potential red flag in a partner as it shows a lack of control over one’s finances. You can match your partner’s salary with the expenditures to see if they match the input and output. If the person spends lavishly on a modest salary, then that’s a sign of bigger problems in future (e.g. expensive furniture purchases, or over ordering when eating together).

There are tools online such as debt calculators to find out how much interest a person has to pay back for using credit cards or personal credit lines and how long it will take to repay debt.

However, if the person opens up and tells you about his/her money problems and puts in effort to want to change for the better, then be willing to listen and give the person at least a chance. If things don’t improve, you know what to do.

#2 Sign Up For A Savings Account

Stage Of Relationship: In A Relationship/Committed

When you are in a relationship and looking at a future together, there will be situations where you have to buy things together. You will also need to save up for large expenditures like for a wedding or a new home.

It is easier to track both your savings progress if you sign up for a joint bank account. There are also savings accounts that can deduct a fixed amount each month from your personal account such as the DBS eMySavings Account. You can preset monthly savings from $50 to $3,000 between the 1st and 25th of the month.

You must at least be 16 years old to open a DBS eMySavings account, and have an existing DBS or POSB Savings or Current Account.

#3 Get Individual Insurance Coverage To Protect Yourself And Your Loved Ones

Stage Of Relationship: Committed

At this stage you are committed and want to have a future together. The one thing you can do out of love is to not become a liability to your partner. Getting yourself insured will help to prepare for this to protect yourself and your future family.

A Critical Illness Insurance Policy will help to prevent sudden financial losses caused by healthcare bills. Main critical illnesses include cancer, heart attack, stroke and coronary artery bypass surgery.

When you have a Critical Illness Insurance, you get a lump sum when you are diagnosed and your illness is covered by the policy. There are various covers – from early, intermediate, to major stage critical illness.

For example, NTUC Income offers a Cancer Protect Insurance which protects against early to advanced stage cancers. You will receive 25% of the sum assured when you are diagnosed with an early stage cancer and up to 125% of the sum assured when you are diagnosed with an advanced stage cancer.

Another benefit of having insurance is to shield you and your family from the financial fallout of you not being able to work due to your illness. You will also be able to cover the costs that come with the illness.

#4 Find Out The Property Needs Of Your Partner And You

Stage Of Relationship: Committed

You probably would have had “The Talk” by this point. Discussions on where do you see the both of you in five years to how many kids to have, these are conversations that lead to building a nest home together.

Looking at both your income, you should find out the type of property needs you and your partner will want. Is a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat applicable, or do you have to look for a resale flat? Other property options include getting an Executive Condominium or a private condo.

There are also other factors like location, do you want a place closer to your parents or your partner’s, does it have to be close to the MRT or do you drive. If both parties are paying for the property, the couple will also have to decide on how to co-own it. E.g. For a HDB flat, will you opt for joint-tenancy or tenancy-in-common.

Then you have to look at the property loans available and how much you can borrow. If a person has other monthly debt obligations, it will affect the borrowing amount for a property loan.

Do the math to calculate how much it costs to purchase the property in mind and start the savings journey together.

Read Also: 5 Things You Must Know Before Buying Your First HDB BTO

#5 Get Informed About Your Partner’s Elderly Parents

Stage Of Relationship: Committed

This is a practical point that deserves highlighting. You may think that the duty to care for your partner’s parents will not fall on you, well, think again. Being committed means sharing the good moments as well as the burdens of your partner.

If your partner has to care for his/her elderly parents, figure out the frequency of this caretaking and be mentally prepared for it as you are likely going to be a part of this down the road.

It might be a rude awakening for some who can never imagine having to care for other parents that your own ones. Also, if your partner’s parents are sick, frail, or wheelchair bound, then be ready to be willing to care for them not just physically, but financially as well.

Perhaps your partner will be the one footing the healthcare or caretaking bills, but you still have to bear in mind these will draw down on your combined savings and be gracious enough to accept that.

#6 Plan For Your Children’s Development And Financial Needs

Stage Of Relationship: Committed

At this stage in life, you are likely to have started a family together. Raising a child costs money, from diapers to milk powder and clothes. But it is a stage of life many people want to be a part of, to complete the “circle of life”, as the saying goes.

When a child grows up, there will be more costs to pay for his or her upbringing, for pre-school all the way till university. To find out more, you can read this comprehensive guide we did on How Much Does It Cost To Raise A Child In Singapore Till Age 18.

The estimate is that it costs $170,400 to raise a child until 18.

#7 Discuss About Your Future Retirement And Investment Plans

Stage Of Relationship: Committed

At this stage in life it is when you have a home, as well as coverage like insurance policies that protect you and your family, and children. This will be when you will start wondering about your golden years and how to retire comfortably.

Although it is okay to discuss this early in the relationship, but the discussions early on are only an inclination of what’s to come. When you are at a more mature stage in your relationship and having the discussion, you are really serious about the steps to take forward and the actionable steps.

A healthy retirement sum can come from our Central Provident Funds (CPF). When we turn 55 years old, savings from our CPF Special Account, Ordinary Account, up to our Full Retirement Sum is transferred to our Retirement Account. This retirement sum will form the basis of our eventual CPF Life or Retirement Sum Scheme payouts when we reach our payout eligibility age.

For those who are looking to grow other avenues of funds via investments, you can discuss with your partner on how much you want to save every month and the investment products out there to purchase to maximise the returns of your funds.

Note: What If My Partner Has Financial Problems Like Family Debt, Gambling Compulsion

You will have to ask yourself what are the non-negotiables in your relationship.

If being committed to a person who has gambling habits is not acceptable, then it is better to end things early so that you won’t experience “buyer’s remorse” in future. Don’t go into a relationship expecting the person to change into the person that you want, to avoid disappointment and regrets.

Read Also: 3 Ways To Identify If A Loved One Is Trapped In A Financially Abusive Relationship

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