5 money lessons for newlyweds
Being married is a point in a person’s life when money matters become a shared concern.
In marriage, one’s personal decision affects others. Two persons pool their possessions and income, and also share their expenses, and yes, even debts. They also bring into the mix their attitude, history, and philosophy about money.
And when two persons with entirely different backgrounds are not in synch in terms of money matters, disaster awaits.
Money matters are among the leading sources of disagreements, stress, and fights in a family as they plays a big role in its survival. Moreover, money fights are one of the reasons why couples eventually separate and families break up.
That is why at the onset, it is recommended that couples talk about money. Because marriage is a life-long commitment, it is best to iron out any differences and make compromises as early as possible.
Here are 5 tips for a peaceful, married financial life:
1. Be transparent
There's a Filipino saying: “Ang pagsasabi ng tapat ay pagsasama ng maluwat (Honesty leads to a lasting relationship)." This could never be more true for newlyweds. Knowing the end-goals, and how to support each other would put you both on the same page.
Being a newlywed is also the beginning of sharing everything. Couples bring and share everything in their marriage: bank accounts, properties, investments, insurance coverage, money habits, debts, to name a few. So all couples should talk about their resources and how they can manage these together.
Thus, be truthful if there are unpaid bills. Being able to share this to your spouse would actually help, as you can program together a debt allocation and repayment scheme.
The same goes for income – what you bring into the family is potential use for household expenses and thus, should be laid down on the table.
While transparency is the policy, communication is the practice. It keeps the relationship open and develops it.
Newlyweds must open to each other on what their financial needs are, as well as share their habits in spending, saving, investing, and money principles.
Examples of talking points are:
- Are you tight-fisted or loose with money?
- What is your principle in helping relatives financially?
- Are you brand-conscious?
- Do you want to live luxuriously?
- Do you have a tendency to keep up with friends and neighbors in terms of lifestyle?
- What are your limits on expenses like food, clothing, accessories, and eating out?
Open communication is critical to a healthy financial relationship. It draws out the details of the couple’s finances and helps avert misunderstandings.
For instance, if my wife or I need to purchase, say, new shoes or a dress or a gadget, we talk about it and determine if it is still within the family budget.
3. Set aside what is 'yours'
Open your own bank account or investment to enable you to freely withdraw from that account should anything happen to your spouse. Call it a contingency fund.
Why? If your spouse dies, all his or her accounts shall be frozen including joint accounts, and you can only get your pro-rated portion. What if you needed money for burial expenses or for other household expenses?
A single account enables you to be more agile and responsive to unforeseen financial needs.
4. Enjoy the fruits of your labor
Since it is a new beginning, do not forget to enjoy life. Money is to be enjoyed also – as long as it is within your means and is reasonable.
Set aside in your monthly budget a “date allowance” that you use to splurge on celebrations. You can also have a yearly family vacation as a tradition.
But enjoyment need not be expensive: a simple picnic in a park or cooking for your own dinner date is no less romantic.
5. 'Hold hands in traffic'
This is one term I got from the book Bounce by Matthew Syed. It means you have to do things together.
I highly recommend a family budget where cash flow is monitored. Analyze your cash flow together, where you can cut back on expenses or increase some income through investments or part-time work.
Communication is really the meat of the matter, as newlyweds navigate their early years in their marriage. Marriage is the bond and union of two persons together: everything that they have and do ultimately affects the other, so financial decisions should be done together, in unison.
As it is no longer personal finance, but marriage finance. – Rappler.com
Rienzie is a Registered Financial Planner of RFP Philippines. He is also an accredited investment fiduciary of Pennsylvania-based fi360 and an international member of the Financial Planning Association, the largest association of financial planners in the US. You may reach Rienzie at firstname.lastname@example.org, his Facebook account or Twitter @rbiolena.
Newly weds images via Shutterstock