Planning your finances with your partner could help you build a more secure financial future. Whether you’ve been together for years or are embarking on a new relationship, here are four financial planning tips for couples.
1. Be open with one another
It’s easy to assume you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to your finances. But if you haven’t had an open and honest conversation about your savings, spending, income and debt, you could be in for a nasty surprise. Your habits and attitudes towards money could differ substantially, potentially leading to arguments further down the road.
Talking about your finances may feel awkward, but it’s a really important way of maintaining a healthy relationship. It can help you to set expectations, work through any issues, create a budgeting plan that suits both partners, and build a more solid financial plan.
2. Try to agree some mutual goals
It’s great to have individual goals in life, but you might find it easier to stay on track if you feel like you’re in it together. Agreeing one or two mutual goals will give you something concrete to work towards as a couple.
Having goals is important because it helps you decide how much money you need to save, and where to invest it. If, for example, you want to move to a bigger property in three years’ time, then it probably makes sense to put this pot of money in a low-risk cash savings account. That way, you won’t run the risk of your savings plummeting in value just before you need to access them.
For goals that are ten or more years away, you might want to consider investing at least some of your money in the stock market. This will give your money the opportunity to grow over the long term, helping you reach your goals more quickly.
3. Think about your tax position
Tax isn’t the most romantic subject, but there are several tax planning opportunities that could help more of your money go towards your future. ISAs, for example, let you each invest up to a maximum of £20,000 a year (2023/24) to benefit from tax-efficient income and growth. If you both open an ISA, that’s a combined £40,000 that you could shield from income tax and capital gains tax (CGT) each year.
If you’ve used up your ISA allowances, the CGT exemption lets you each realise tax-free investment gains of up to £6,000 in the 2023/24 tax year. Couples who are married or in a civil partnership can transfer investments between one another tax free, which effectively doubles the CGT exemption to £12,000. Bear in mind that the CGT exemption is being slashed in April 2024 to just £3,000 – you can find out what this might mean for you here.
There’s also the personal savings allowance, which is the amount of interest you can earn without paying tax. This is £1,000 for basic-rate taxpayers, £500 for higher-rate taxpayers, and nil for additional-rate taxpayers. Again, couples who are married or in a civil partnership could consider transferring savings between one another to maximise each partner’s personal savings allowance.
Tax can be complicated, so make sure you seek professional advice.
4. Consider your ‘Plan B’
Talking about death and illness probably won’t make your list of best-ever date nights, but it’s really important to consider how your finances would hold up if the worst were to happen. As a couple, your finances may be closely intertwined, which means if one of you suffered a serious illness or passed away, the other could really struggle financially. A financial adviser can help you decide on the right policies and level of cover for your circumstances.
This is also a good time to think about drawing up a will. Writing a will ensures your money and other assets go to the right people and causes, and that your wishes are carried out. Having a will is especially important if you aren’t married or in a civil partnership – even if you’ve been living together for years, you’ll have no entitlement to your partner’s estate if they die without a will.
Tackling your finances as a couple can help you avoid quibbles about money and reach common goals, but getting started isn’t always easy. A financial adviser can help you build a financial plan that works for you, so you can feel confident you’re on the right track. For advice that’s tailored to you, why not speak to one of our financial advisers today?
The value of investments, and any income from them, can fall and you may get back less than you invested. This does not constitute tax or legal advice. Tax treatment depends on the individual circumstances of each client and may be subject to change in the future. Information is provided only as an example and is not a recommendation to pursue a particular strategy.
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