Five Finance Tips For Newlyweds
June is traditionally the wedding month but more and more people have been getting married in December. So congratulations to those just married – it’s the start of a union that includes your financial lives as well.
During my talks on personal finance, several participants usually turn out to be married and they share their financial challenges as a couple. The major challenge usually is making ends meet, with the biggest issue that of paying the bills and the kid’s education expenses. I feel for them being a married man and father myself. Having seen my parents encounter the same challenges, I understand them even more.
A lot of tips and advice has been given about personal finance – finance focusing on the individual. Not so much for marriage finance, so here are five tips for newlyweds that I encourage readers to share.
Tip #1: Communicate, communicate, communicate. This is perhaps the linchpin of married life and it carries over the married financial life as well. Newlyweds must be open about what their financial needs are and share their spending, saving and investing habits and money principles.
Are you loose with money or tight-fisted? What is your principle with regard to helping relatives financially? Do you prefer spending for lunch or bringing baon? Are you brand-conscious in terms of buying clothing and accessories? Do you want to live the high life or a will simple living do? Would you want to spend for yearly family vacation? How often will you go out on dates? What budget limits will you set on expenses like food, clothing, accessories, and eating out?
Open communication is key to a healthy financial relationship as it draws out the nitty-gritty of a couple’s finances. It also helps avert potential disagreements due to misunderstandings. If I or my wife have to purchase, say, new shoes or a dress or a cell phone, we talk about it and determine if it is within the family budget. We also have a policy on the limit and extent of helping relatives in need.
Tip#2: Be transparent. As newlyweds enter marriage, they carry the excitement of a new life shared together with new hopes, dreams and aspirations. It’s not only dreams that they bring into marriage and a life shared is just the beginning of everything.
Couples bring into marriage bank accounts, properties, investments, debts, insurance coverage, spending and savings habits, just to name a few. When I got married, all of my savings and investments become part of the “common marriage basket,” more popularly known as “conjugal property”. This forms a part of the total resources that a couple will use for their daily, emergency and future needs.
It’s not only about assets but liabilities as well. Yes, even the credit card bill. Keeping this secret and paying in secret means less money allocated for groceries, gas or daily allowances. Being able to share this with your spouse will actually help as you can program a repayment scheme that will not sacrifice family needs. When we got married, we immediately laid down all our cards so that we knew our resources and from there build a shared future.
Tip#3: Set aside something that is yours as well. This may go against the grain but you can actually have a bank account or investment that is yours. Imagine if you gave all of your salary to your spouse then have to ask for money to buy a gift or treat her to lunch!
On a more serious note, having a separate account or investment enables you to freely withdraw from that account should anything happen to your spouse. This is because if your spouse dies, all his or her accounts will be frozen, including money that is also yours if jointed. You can only get a portion of that and not the whole amount. You and your family’s financial needs may be compromised. Having a separate individual account enables you to be more agile and responsive to emergency needs.
Tip#4: Enjoy! Financial planning is not all about being frugal and stashing away money, it’s all about enjoying life, too. Money is to be enjoyed as well as long as it involves spending within your means. Set aside monthly “date allowance” that you can use to celebrate your life as a couple.
You can decide to make a tradition of a yearly family vacation. Also, enjoying the fruits of your labor does not necessarily mean a high price tag — a simple picnic or cooking for your own dinner date is no less romantic as it is inexpensive.
Tip#5: “Hold hands in traffic”. This is a term I got from the book Bounce. Remember how kids cross the road with their parents or friends? They hold hands in traffic. It is the same thing in marriage finance: you have to do things together. A family budget where your cash inflow and expenditures are monitored is highly recommended. It gives you a tool to see where you can cut back expenses or boost income thru investing or extra work.
Marriage is the bond and union of two persons together: everything they have and do ultimately affects each other and so financial decisions should be done together.
Rienzie P. Biolena is a registered financial planner of RFP Philippines. He is president and chief financial planner of WealthArki and Consultancy, a financial planning firm. Learn more about personal financial planning at the 68th RFP program this March 2018. To inquire, e-mail email@example.com or text <name><e-mail><RFP> to 0917-9689774
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