Dealing with money matters in a marriage can be a tricky. Couples tend to make assumptions along the way such as “we will figure it out” or “I am sure we will be fine”. But before you know it, you are raising a family and your finances are still a mess.
With the increasing divorce rate in the Middles East, recent studies have attributed money as one of the leading causes for divorce. In Saudi Arabia, a survey conducted in 2011 by the Ministry of Justice revealed that 60 percent of divorces where attributed to one partner trying to control the spouse’s salary. Maybe a good idea is to talk through your money habits with your spouse right from the start.
Have you spoken about your past?
As a couple, it’s vital to discuss your financial background and the kind of financial upbringing each partner has had. Having the talk gives you an insight on each other’s spending habits, the level of financial responsibility you both are used to, financial goals and what to expect. Being honest and open about your financial status helps both manage their financial expectations from each other.
You also need to be aware of any pending debt your partner may have before the marriage. It can directly affect your finances especially if you decide to pool them together after marriage. To avoid any unexpected surprises, be open about your debt.
Also remember, discussing money is an ongoing process throughout your marriage and not a one off conversation. Financial plans and budgets constantly change so openly discuss them as and when needed.
Can you meet me halfway?
In today’s day and age, both partners need to be involved in the financial plan of a household. Usually one partner is the spender and the other is the saver, and you both need to complement each other in your spending and saving habits. Depending on how often and large each purchase is, decide when it’s time to splurge and when it’s time to save.
As a spender, hold back on buying on unnecessary luxury goods and let your partner take control of the money when needed. For example let them manage money matters when paying bills or handling payments on credit cards. As a saver, support your partner when a big purchase needs to be made such as a required home renovation. The key is to learn when to pick your battles especially if you have opposing ideas on how money should be spent.
Do we really need to share everything?
With changing times, the idea of how money should be shared between a couples has also changed. Many of us are used to having our financial independence before getting married. Pooling your money may not be a best idea after marriage even though it seems like the obvious choice. After all constantly questioning your partner about their spending habits can be a source of disagreement.
One way you both can handle you incomes is to set up a third joint account which can be used for family expenses, activities or even to buy a new house. Decide on how you want to manage the account and how much each of you will be contributing according to your salaries.
What do we tell our kids?
Once you have children, parents need to have a cohesive strategy on how to teach them to use money. You want to instill the sense of financial responsibility in your children but if both partners treat money differently, it can leave the kids confused. For example if one parent sets a rule for weekly pocket money based on house chores but the other disregards it, it can confuse the child. Both parents need to implement and follow the same financial rules in the household when it comes to their children
Part of having a successfully marriage is being comfortable enough to discuss your money matters early and being clear on your individual financial goals. Work as a team.