Business

A guide to married finances

Georgie and Ross Willett
Image caption Georgie and Ross Willett got married on a shoe-string budget

The Royal newlyweds will be starting their lives together with new roles, responsibilities and pressure. But they are unlikely to have to worry too much about paying the bills, or having enough cash to stretch through to payday.

But what about other couples who are getting married?

Georgie and Ross Willett tied the knot yesterday too. They were excited about getting married on the same day as the Royals, and themed their wedding breakfast menu around all things British.

Unlike William and Kate, they did it all on a tight budget.

Georgie got her dress second hand. Her mum made the table decorations and cake, and overall, the whole thing cost about £5,000.

So we asked Which? Money's Gareth Shaw to give them, and other couples, tips for sorting their finances during married life.

Joint Accounts

Georgie and Ross set up a joint account when they moved in together.

Georgie says "Both our wages get paid into it, and then all our bills come out of it, all our spending money. Everything basically. We just use that one account."

Ross says they tend to agree about finances. "Everything we own, and everything we've built up together, it's seen as ours."

But Gareth says that might not be their best option for married couples.

"On one hand, a joint account is a great thing to do. It means all your money is going in there, all the essentials are being paid first, your bills, council tax and your rent."

"But, you might want to consider getting individual accounts, just so each of you has got a bit of money set aside for the fun stuff you want to pay for, so there's no arguments."

Debt

The couple both racked up some debt before they got together - about £5,000 between them. But now they have worked hard to pay them back together, and think they should be debt-free in about six months.

Image caption Gareth Shaw from Which? money says it is important to discuss your financial situation with your partner

Gareth says honesty is the key for any couple dealing who owe money.

His advice is simple. "Be honest and open about debt. It's not a nice conversation to have, but once you are married, debts that are out of control can affect you both."

"Talk to each other about how you can tackle this together. If you work side by side, the sooner you can free yourselves from debt and lead a happier life together."

He also points out that married couples do not take on each others finances.

"But if you take out a loan together as a joint loan, you're both responsible for paying that back."

Pre-nuptial agreements

Ross says a pre-nuptial agreement has never even come up in conversation between him and Georgie.

Gareth says that makes sense, because they rent their home and do not have lots of money or expensive possessions.

"It is good for couples who tend to own assets before they get married, like a property. So if, in the unfortunate event they do get divorced, they know who owns what."

"But even they have to remember in England and Wales, a pre-nuptial agreement is not actually legally binding."

The law is clearer in Scotland. But even in England and Wales, courts do take pre-nuptial agreements as a starting point.

Tax

Ross wants to know if getting married will affect their tax payments at all. But Gareth says in the short-term, it won't make much difference.

"The tax man treats you both as individuals, even though you're married. But perhaps if one of you is actually earning a bit more in the future, and you become a higher rate tax payer, there are advantages to being married."

"You can actually transfer investments like shares over to the person that's not earning as much to actually pay less tax on them."

Georgie and Ross say Gareth's advice has helped focus their minds, and they think now they will open their own individual bank accounts as well as their joint one.

But for now, they have got more exciting things to think about... Their honeymoon on the Nile.