Let’s face it: Whether it is in sickness or in good health, in good times or bad… money features in every stage of life. Yet, some couples readily say: “I do” without sharing about money matters.
“Some couples feel that love is all that they need and feel uncomfortable discussing about finance issues with each other,” observes Anne Tay, Senior Manager of Financial Services from Anne Tay & Associates, Prestige Raffles Branch representing Manulife (Singapore).
One of the key factors behind wedded bliss is good and responsible money management – from both husband and wife. “If money is not handled properly, it can create an irrevocable rift in the marriage if something happens – for example, if one party falls into debt,” says Anne. “That’s why couples should always maintain an open and honest conversation when it comes to money matters.”
Anne shares a few tips on how you can talk money – the right way – with your significant other.
Talk money – as early as possible!
Couples should discuss how they plan to manage their finances as early into their relationship as possible. “Ideally, this should be done before marriage,” says Anne.
Couples may choose to attend a marriage preparation course where financial management is one of the topics. They can also consult a financial adviser as a couple, ask a married couple they trust for advice, or read financial management books.
However, it’s still not too late if a couple has not discussed about finances prior to marriage. Anne advises: “Schedule a time to discuss it as soon as you can so that money will not become a point of contention later”.
Share your money experiences with each other
The easiest way to shed the discomfort that comes with sharing financial details is to look back to your childhood.
“Share how you dealt with money when you were growing up,” advises Anne. Did you use to routinely spend every dollar from your allowance? Or did you save up for material wants because money was hard to come by? Ultimately, how you deal with money now is a reflection of past experiences. Anne adds: “So, talk about what had influenced you – money-wise – for a start.”
What else should we talk about?
Generally, you should be discussing how to manage your finances as a couple. Anne lists a few common questions:
- Who should be managing the wallet for the family? From paying the utility bills to buying groceries and necessities, running a household will require some work. Anne explains: “Discuss which of you can take charge of these responsibilities. Some couples are comfortable letting the one who’s stronger in money management be totally in charge.”
- How would you pay for big-ticket items? It could be that Smart TV you’ve both been eyeing. Or, it could be the three-week Japan holiday. No matter what, such big-ticket items cost money. “Discuss who pays for these items and how,” says Anne.
- How much to put aside into the joint account, if any, to handle common expenses? So, to merge or not to merge? If you have a joint account, you have to decide how much each of you should put into the account. “This could be a percentage of each other’s salary,” says Anne. “If necessary, you may also wish to discuss how to handle disparity in pay checks, especially when the disparity gets bigger over a period of time due to pay increases.”
- Are we having a baby? Having an addition to your family would require more planning in anticipation of lifestyle changes – from work-life to finances. “There could be financial concerns if you are planning to have a child, especially if one spouse decides to stay at home to take care of the child,” says Anne. That’s why it’s so important to talk it through with your significant other. “Plan and budget for the extra baby expenses, discuss how you would want to run the bigger household with a certain income, and how much to put aside money for the child’s future, such as investing in education policies and insurance plans.”
Don’t let your first discussion on money matters be the last. Make sure you find time to sit down and have regular conversations about your finances.
Anne explains: “When you do so, you can have a better picture of your household budget, and keep track of common financial goals (especially if you’re saving for big-ticket items or planning to have a baby). Be open about sharing monetary concerns, and work towards creating a secure financial future together for the entire family.”
I Love Children would like to thank Ms Anne Tay, Senior Manager of Financial Services from Anne Tay & Associates, Prestige Raffles Branch representing Manulife (Singapore), for her professional input.