Written by: Benjienen Toledo
Set your financial goals from the start, make financial plans, and work on it together.
Mothers have been telling their daughters for generations; “It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich guy as it is to fall in love with a poor one”. In simplicity, what they want for their daughters is to marry well and lead an abundant, comfortable life.
Unromantic as it may sound, money really is the one of the biggest cause of friction in relationships. Couples who trust their spouse with money matters generally have a greater sense of security and with lesser arguments, they build stronger, more fruitful and intimate relationships.
Getting married is a momentous decision, one with the potential to change your life forever. Let’s take a look at what Ohmyhome found from the happiest couples around Singapore and the financial moves that they took to make it work.
1. Be Honest
Many couples avoid discussing their financial beliefs and goals. But the matter of fact is being transparent about your financial situation is truly crucial in every relationship.
Be honest about your salaries and spending habits, as well as all the assets and debts you are bringing into the marriage. Debts are not part of your union as husband and wife, but the effects are part of the “for better, for worse”, impacting your monthly budget and decision-making as a couple. Likewise, be open about sharing and understanding each other’s family histories as this would help lessen the frequency and duration of your financial disagreements.
2. Set Goals and Work as a Team
It takes two to tango, so start by scheduling regular financial talks to set tangible goals as a couple. This is a decisive step to take, providing both parties an important opportunity to review family spending and to pre-plan for any unforeseen expenses that may require some adjustments.
To spice things up, you can even print visual reminders of those goals and leave it on your walls or in your dresser to keep you and your partner motivated.
3. Choose between Separate or Joint Bank Accounts
When you were single, you managed your own finances and with much less to worry about because you only had to think for yourself. However, once you get married, you are inviting another person into your spending and saving habits and similarly, you partake in that person’s habits as well. Here is where things get slightly more complicated.
Take time to discuss with your spouse whether sharing a joint account or maintaining two individual accounts work better for your relationship. Some couples prefer joint accounts so that all bank transactions can easily be monitored, whereas others prefer to keep separate accounts and delegate their monthly bills. An alternative suggestion would be keeping separate accounts for payroll purposes and opening a new joint account primarily for mortgage planning.
There is never one perfect solution that fits everyone, so leave the door open for discussion as you collaborate and make your relationship stronger.
4. Decide Who’s the Manager
Determine who is the more financially savvy of the two, and let this person take charge of the household budgeting and bill paying. Typically, money management is a role which men pride themselves on as they tend to have more aptitude and interest in finances. However, women are also welcomed to take on the task if they have the meticulous precision with figures and aptitude for using elaborate spreadsheets for monthly budgeting. (Yes! Some of you may gawk at the word ‘spreadsheets’, but believe us when we say that keeping a mental note of your finances is not going to work, even if you are excellent with numbers. You’ll need pen and paper or the aid of technology to keep your finances afloat.)
5. Allocate a Budget and Set Limitations
As the saying goes, “Marriage is a partnership, and couples can’t win with money unless they are doing the budget as a team.”
It is very important that couples come to a mutual agreement on how much each should allocate to the home, transportation, food and unplanned expenses.
If both of you are new to budgeting and are figuring out how to manage your money each month, try the 50-20-30 rule! This guideline is definitely a kickstarter to help you build a budget by using three spending categories: 50 percent of your income goes to living expenses and essentials, 20 percent to savings, investments, and debt-reduction payments, and the remaining 30 percent for flexible spending.
Your formula may change as time goes by, nevertheless the main point here is that you and your partner must be clear on where and how you spend your hard-earned money. Doing so not only helps you avoid financial conflicts, but also accomplish your financial goals.
Marriage is one of the best teachers in financial planning and communication is the key to most marital financial challenges. You need to find out the style you are both comfortable and confident with. The most important thing is that you are agreeable and willing to adjust along the way.
Ultimately, it is a lifelong journey of learning, unlearning and relearning with your spouse.
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