Managing finances as a couple can be tricky for many due to differences in income, views towards money and lifestyle habits. How a couple manages their finances can be an indicator of the health of their relationship.
Arguments over money are likely to be more intense and take longer to recover from. Conversely, couples who communicate openly about their finances are aligned to a common goal which creates trust within the relationship. This is why it is important to sort out your finances early in the relationship.
If you are at a stable stage of your relationship and are looking to figure out your finances, we have come up with some tips on how you can manage your money as a couple.
Rules for money-related conversations
For most couples, money is a sensitive topic and talking about it might be uncomfortable. However, the first step to successful financial planning as a couple is to talk about it.
Discussions should be honest and inclusive of opinions from both parties. Before you begin, it is good to set some ground rules to serve as a guide to help you navigate the conversation. Here are some examples of rules you could adopt:
- Plan your meeting and mark it on both of your calendars
- Have an agenda for each meeting so that you have something to work on
- Any feedback/opinion is welcomed with no judgement, shaming or blaming
- Both sides bring some snacks or drinks to the table to make the experience more pleasant
- Discussions should be held when both of you are productive and comfortable.
- Any time the conversation starts to go sideways, call for a time-out to freshen up so that you can come back with the right attitude and mindset.
Pillars of a healthy couple finance
Every healthy relationship with money is built on three pillars:
1. Trust in your partner
Trust your partner just as you want to be trusted with your money. Instead of accusing or blaming, you can bring up any concerns you have regarding finances in the context of a conversation. Talking things out can help you prevent any unwanted arguments.
2. Transparency in your spending
Be open to sharing how you plan to spend or invest your money. Go through any big purchases with your partner. This allows the both of you to keep each other in check while being comfortable with any spending or risks that come with an investment.
3. Treasure each other’s space
At the end of the day, you and your significant other are still two individuals no matter how much you love each other. There are bound to be differences when it comes to spending ideologies and lifestyle habits. Respect each other’s personal space and spending so that the both of you can be who you are without any need for apologies.
What to discuss during financial date nights
There are many ways in which couples manage their finances. Some prefer to combine their income while others may choose to track their spending separately. There is no one-size-fits-all to a couple’s money management.
The best way to manage your finances should be unanimously agreed on and any choice made is a decision made together. Money talk is where the two of you settle your differences, conclude and formulate strategies to manage your finances. Here are some possible topics you can talk about during your next money talk:
#1 Respective views on money
Differences between partners’ views on money generally come from the values instilled growing up. What is considered important to you may be seen as an unnecessary spending to your partner. Not only do different backgrounds create varying opinions on spending, but attitudes towards investments will also differ.
Take this chance to find out the opposite’s beliefs and style of managing money. Try to understand each of your mindsets towards money. If your partner is a spender, agree on some limits to work within. Talk openly about your dreams and goals as well as what it takes financially to achieve them. Align your financial goals and mark out milestones along the way. This would allow you to track your progress and celebrate the small wins.
Read more: How successful couples save money together
#2 How to split household bills
One of the best ways to pay the bills is to create a joint account, where the both of you contribute monthly, which would be used to pay for any of your joint expenses such as:
- Utilities (gas, electricity, water)
- Housing mortgage
There are different ways couples contribute to this account. Some go with the 50/50 split where both sides contribute the same amount. However, this might not be fair if your incomes are not equal.
Alternatively, you could also consider splitting the bills proportionally based on each of your incomes. The person who makes more money will pay for a larger percentage of the expenses. Let’s say you earn 60% of the combined income, then you’ll pay for 60% of the shared bills.
#3 Preparation for emergencies
Now that you have a plus one, it is all the more important to plan for any unexpected expenses that can arise due to hospitalisation, critical illness, death or loss of jobs.
Ensuring that you and your loved one are both adequately insured can give you peace of mind knowing that he/she can carry on with the same lifestyle should anything happen to you.
Apart from getting the right insurance coverage, you should also look to set aside an emergency fund in case one or both of you lose your income. This fund is meant to help to maintain your current lifestyle for a short duration while you look for another source of income.
How much do you need to set aside as an emergency fund? The general rule of thumb is to set aside three to six months of your combined expenses inclusive of any investment plans. Likewise, you could use the Planner Bee’s emergency fund calculator to find out how much you really need.
#4 Retirement plans
As distant as it may seem, it is always better to start planning out your financial goals as early as possible. This is because early planning provides you with a longer investment runway to fully capitalise on the benefits of compounding.
Discuss what your desired retirement lifestyle is like and calculate how much it takes monetarily to achieve financial freedom. You would ideally want a retirement where you receive monthly payouts from your investments without having to worry about fully using up your savings. Work backwards and explore what investment tools you are comfortable with to help you attain your goals.
Read more: How to Invest as a Couple In Singapore
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to managing finances as a couple. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different strategies. Having the right conversation, trust and a lot of communication, you will ultimately find the perfect balance.
Being able to be together and accepting of each other’s flaws is already no easy feat. But if you can get on the same page as your partner when it comes to finances, you are setting yourself up for a successful relationship.