Financial Literacy for Everyone
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Starting Your Financial Life Together

Once the ceremony is over it's time to get to the practicality of day-to-day life together. It's time to divide up the chores. There's laundry, yard maintenance, cleaning, and, of course, a lot of different financial responsibilities. Who's going to balance the chequebook? Who will pay the bills? Who's going to keep track of investments?

You don't necessarily have to divide these tasks and take exclusive ownership if them. Just make sure you have some system in place so that these important tasks get done. You can divide them by strengths and weaknesses. Or pick randomly from a hat. This isn't about who's the better person in financial matters. It's about taking care of your joint responsibilities together.

Change Your Beneficiaries

Go through each of your accounts that are held in beneficiary form — RRSPs, savings bonds, insurance, etc. Review the beneficiaries listed on each of these important documents that impact your loved ones financial futures. Be sure to change the names to your new spouse if you want them to receive these funds upon your death.

Review your insurance

Your life situation has changed and your insurance coverage probably hasn't. Your spouse may have some insurance policies as well. Compare them to make sure they don't overlap -- that usually means wasted money. Combine coverage where you can and you could save quite a bit of money.

Name changes

If you are changing your name as a result of your marriage, you'll need to change your name on many different documents. Contact your provincial Office of the Registrar General or Department of Vital Statistics. You should also alert the following organizations of your name change:

  • The Motor Vehicle Registry office
  • The Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency
  • The post office
  • The Social Insurance Registry (SIN)
  • Your banks and credit cards
  • Your mortgage company
  • Your utility suppliers

To make a legal name change on your Social Insurance Number (SIN), collect all of your documents and take it to the nearest Service Canada Center. You can also apply for changes by mail. This is extremely important because you want your retirement account properly credited. Also, the next time you change jobs, you will need to show your new employer your SIN card with your new name.

Develop a Budget

Hopefully you each have a budget that you've been working with as individuals. It's now time to update and combine those budgets to reflect your new, shared living situation. Click here for more information on how to build a budget.

Prenuptial Agreements

The bad reputation it's earned in some circles notwithstanding, a prenuptial agreement is a solid concept. A prenup allows both parties to agree to certain terms before they get married. While it may not be the most romantic topic of discussion during wedding preparations, it's a realistic one. Couples on the brink of matrimony should at least consider drafting a prenuptial agreement.

Some think that a prenuptial agreement is a matter of trust, or lack of in some cases. It can be. But it can also be a statement that both parties agree on certain terms as they enter into the marriage. It will also help both parties know what to expect if a marriage doesn't work out. From a legal standpoint, it is a good idea to create a prenuptial agreement if you have:

  • Wealth you would like to preserve
  • Children from a previous marriage or relationship
  • Your own a company
  • A good chance of becoming famous
  • Expectations to inherit a lot of money or other assets
  • Ongoing family related financial obligations
  • A partner earns much more than you

Allow yourself enough time so that you can both think about your prenuptial agreement. It will make sure there is more clarity about the situation. It will also make the prenuptial agreement harder to challenge.

Postnuptial Agreements

If you're already married or your wedding is coming up quickly, but you still want some kind of financial agreement, a postnuptial agreement is an option. It accomplishes the same basic thing as a prenuptial agreement. Postnuptial agreements are often created when one partner comes into wealth and wants to protect it.