How to both be in a relationship and protect yourself financially
Why remaining financially independent in a couple is important
Being in a relationship and sharing your living costs can be a major help to saving, investing and combining assets for your future.
But (and this is a big but), it also comes with its own set of complexities you should consider, no matter what stage your relationship is at or how solid you feel in it.
The main parts of your financial wellbeing you need to think about are:
- KiwiSaver. Did you know your partner may be entitled to half of yours (and you may be to theirs) if you’ve been living together for two years or more and subsequently separate?
- Parental leave. If you take parental leave, are you sharing an income and retirement contributions when you’re not working?
- Money goals. What’s your relationship with money, what's theirs and how do these align with your future goals both together and separately?
- Independence. How can you maintain your personal security when you share life costs with someone else?
Maintaining your financial independence
Even if your partner is great at paying the bills and helping run your household, it’s so useful if you know what’s coming in and going out. Having oversight of this means that if anything happens, you’ll be able to take care of yourself.
In a not-so-shocking revelation, communication is key. Having clear, transparent conversations with your partner about how much you make, save and spend helps you both know where you’re at and where you’re headed.
Consider keeping your own personal savings going, even when you have shared bank accounts.
Making money goals
Kind of like going to the dentist, sitting down in front of a spreadsheet can seem a bit confronting and in the too hard basket. But we’re absolutely not here to shame you because you bought an investment pair of pants last week or a new bag for work. This is your life! But, there are smart ways you can plan ahead. And that starts with taking stock.
Print out (hear us out) a month’s bank statement from your checking account and see if you can identify any trends. What do you splurge on? Do emotional triggers make you spend your money differently?
Examine your accounts, if you have any debt, and how hard your savings are working for you (there’s a handy article here that takes you through the benefits and risks of compound interest).
Make some realistic but tangible goals. What’s feasible for you to save in the next 3-6 months?
Hot tips: Five things you can do for your own financial wellbeing:
- Set up your own KiwiSaver account and contribute, making sure you’re in the right fund for your age and stage. As you advance in your career, consider increasing your contribution percentage (there’s a scale from 3-10%).
- Start putting money aside for an emergency fund and work towards this being enough for you to live off for 3-6 months.
- Get your name on all your shared bills as well as access to all the passwords to your accounts.
- Talk about a fair arrangement if you’re planning on going on maternity leave.
- Speak to a financial adviser.
The biggest thing to remember is that starting is often the hardest part. Remember - it’s not historically been made easy for women to accumulate wealth or feel super confident with money (that’s kinda why we’re here), but taking stock of where you’re at is the first step.
And then? It’s all about making achievable plans that get you in your saving rhythm.
We’re running a series of workshops and events around Aotearoa to support Kiwi women on their money journey.
Have you joined The Table to get access to them yet?
Join The Table today.
Other content you might find useful:
The above article is general information and does not purport to give financial advice. The Mercer KiwiSaver scheme and Mercer FlexiSaver are issued by Mercer (N.Z.) Limited. Product Disclosure Statements are available free of charge at seatatthetable.co.nz.