A reason for many to stay in bad marriages, a reason for many a lovers’ tiff, a reason for growing distances in marriages and sometimes, a reason for resenting your partner, money is most definitely the third wheel in the cog.
Establishing certain 'Money’ rules in your marriage can surely help stay away from the potential mess it can create in later years - here are a few tips to get it right
1. Be involved but choose the Leader – Get talking about your bank accounts. Working or not working, you like math or you hate math – get involved. Set aside a ‘Money Talk’ time of the month where you sit together and do the budgets. Many women would rather let him ‘take care of it’ and are left ‘astonished’ when the savings run out. Don’t let yourself be that woman. Being involved also takes the pressure off the Bookkeeper. Managing money to meet the family’s never-ending desires is not easy. Plan together. Make money fun. Enjoy your poor days and gloat on your rich ones. Because in both, you swim together – aware and involved.
2. Yours, Mine and Ours – Keeping a joint account for the household expenses and household savings while maintaining your own individual accounts for your personal indulgences. This may actually be a physically separate ‘Joint’ account or any 1 account which is sacredly mutually decided as ‘Household’. Fill it up with the household budget decided at the beginning of the month and pace it out as per plan. For each of your indulgences, use your personal account – no questions asked.
3. Decide a realistic savings goal– In our marriage, this is a common goal decided annually. We take baby steps, working together – this time you add, and this time I add – to build our nest egg. What helps us is having a clearly defined savings target and a partnership where each takes responsibility for their role.
4. Plan your investments – My husband was a slacker at investments – and when in year 1, he talked about last-minute tax liabilities – I knew this would be my ‘actionable’. Hence, every year we plan our annual investments together. He has become quite great at it actually, almost working on auto pilot now. Most often, one partner doesn’t understand how investments work. This time it’s the job of the other, to include, to partner and initially do the paperwork for them. But don’t do it again. And again. Encourage ownership of investments. Learn together.
5. Let your partner indulge – Most of us feel we spend better than the other. There are so many couples whose money fight goes like this :
Partner A – Who told you to buy those Shoes?
Partner B – Well don’t we indulge in your ‘eating out’ sprees every 3rd day…A single meal bill is equal to a pair of shoes, and everyone knows which lasts longer.
Pause. This happens in our house a lot. I will leave you guessing who is A n who is B. What, however, we soon recognized was celebrating our individual spending habits. Let your partner indulge – without question, without threat and without feeling guilty. Their indulgence is not the same as yours. Their spending decisions also might not appeal to your logic at all. But this is not about you. This is about their relationship with money. Don’t define their rules.
6. Dealing with Debt – Most couples carry atleast some debt together. If you’re both earning, its best to distribute monthly payments as part of the monthly budget. If there is a personal debt, manage it. While it maybe easy to borrow from your partner, imbibe the habit of returning. We often lend and return to each other, even as husband and wife. Might be funny or even money-minded to many, but it keeps us away from any sense of resentment. It has also built a sense of responsibility towards debt in each of us.
7. Kill the 'Money Silence' - Often the money silence creeps into marriages showing up as ‘trust’ issues years later. Some people don’t like to talk about money. But in marriages, this can possibly not be an excuse. If your partner doesn’t talk, spend time to ask, understand and discuss time and again their viewpoint. Involving each other in the bank accounts is an important step in becoming fully transparent with the other. This is a big piece of being companions – don’t shove the money silence under the carpet. Address it.
8. Review your insurance requirements - Insurance is an important protection required for your family's well-being in case of any mishap. Make sure you both spend time together to review how much insurance cover is required, making notes of the amounts already taken with current employers, any independent policies, and the like. Preferably, do this as an annual exercise and be open with all required information. It's for the safety of your family, after all.