With the wedding season in full swing, we have many new couples starting their new married life of responsibilities and doing many things jointly with a new partner. Like any other relationship, marriage is a commitment, and both partners must work towards an honest and transparent relationship.
Finances are amongst the most important part of life for people anywhere in the world. Getting finances right is one of the pillars to building a successful marriage. Research has shown that money is the primary reason for marital conflict in couples, regardless of their age bracket.
Disagreements about money are the top forecast parameter of whether a couple will stay together or not. Arguments about money take longer to recover from and cause resentment and further conflict.
In managing money together, there should be clarity about who will bear what expenses, especially if one partner earns more than the other. If both partners are earning and plan to continue to do so, managing money as a couple can be awkward to sort out with two salaries and two (different) financial situations joining. Or one partner has an existing debt burden or financial responsibilities like family support or student debt to pay off. In such cases, a clear decision needs to be made by both partners to ensure a clear distinction of finances.
Regardless of whether you are just getting started on the financial aspects of your relationship or you’ve been trying to work things out for a while, there are some different ways money can be managed as a couple. Follow the tips below to improve your money management and marital life.
Managing Money with a Single Income
If only one spouse is earning, they will be the one managing the marriage’s finances. However, the non-earning spouse can help reduce expenses by managing the budget in any way possible.
If a spouse is unemployed and looking for work, learn from this and opt to get some form of insurance to cover any emergency. Insurance in any form acts as a buffer between financial crises in case the earning partner falls sick or is unable to work due to physical issues.
Having an insurance policy helps to protect the couple financially, allowing them to maintain their expenses and pay bills.
Joint Account for Expenses
Managing the expenses of a household and managing to save is even more important if only one is earning. It is better to manage savings and limit expenses by having a joint account for household expenses. This will allow for the budgeted expenses to be managed better. Savings should be kept separate in another account that is not easily accessible by either spouse. Plan for any emergency and make sure that your spouse knows which accounts are for which purpose and enlist them as next of kin so that in case of sudden death or incapacity, your finances are manageable by your spouse.
If both spouses are working, an agreed amount from both incomes can be deposited into the joint family expenses account, and both spouses use the account for all joint household (or agreed upon expenses). This allows for tracking the expenses and should help control the joint budget. All expenses and savings are managed from the pooled income.
Doing this will require both spouses to sit down and discuss their incomes and household expenses. After this, a reasonable household budget for joint use should be easy to finalize. This joint budget should be set according to a mutual agreement, and it should be manageable for both incomes.
Doing this will require cooperation about personal expenses and impulse buys. Whatever the parameters, they should be clarified here so that there is no argument about spending in the future.
Combined Finances with Individual Pocket Money
In this option, both partners combine their incomes into the joint account, and all expenses and savings are managed from the pooled income. One of the expenses is pocket money for both spouses for their personal use.
This can be a better option for couples with a shopaholic spouse. This helps to avoid arguments by giving the impulsive partner money to spend as they wish, without affecting the joint expenses or affecting savings. The other partner also gets money to spend as they wish.
The details need to be agreed upon; however, is the pocket money equal? Or based on the contribution to the joint account? What spending will be done under pocket money? Dining out? Gifts for each other? All these questions need to be settled.
In this method, both incomes are kept separate. Both spouses manage their budgets, bills, and expenses. There are no joint bank accounts, budget, or bills. Both control their income and are financially independent. However, this is an impractical (and impossible to manage) option as you will be living together and managing the house, its utilities, and grocery expenses.
This separation allows the responsible spouse to protect their income from their spouse’s irresponsibility. Ideally, the couple splits expenses in this situation, like the husband pays the utilities and the wife manages the grocery bill. This may be a better option for higher-income earners as they can manage their separate responsibilities without needing assistance. It can also allow for better financial management if one spouse is not responsible for financial management.
Share all Expenses Equally
In this technique, all expenses are divided equally for all agreed expenses. This means that all agreed-upon expense heads like dining out, groceries, utilities, and insurance payments are all split equally and shared. Many couples swear by this method as agreed-upon expenses are easily managed without argument, and most have money left over to save and spend as they want.
However, this method is only fair if both spouses earn in similar income brackets. If the income brackets are different, the lesser earner will face a strain and have lower money left for saving and personal spending. If added to the joint spending pool, this method will also affect long-term decisions like insurance policies, house loans, etc.
The lower earner will not afford the new expense and may not agree to opt for it. in such cases, you can decide to reevaluate the joint financials for long term financial planning
Share Expenses By Income Percentage
In this method, a fixed percentage of each partner’s income goes to paying the joint bills. This ensures that the person making more money contributes a larger percentage for the bills. The person making less pays less. If you earn 60% of the income, you will pay 60% of the bills.
There are various ways to manage this, but the easiest is to have all accounts separate, with one joint account for joint expenses with equal access for both spouses. List down how much you both earn and add it up. The individual income divided by the total income w3will give you the percentage income for both partners.
Add up total average expenses and multiply by the income percentages to get the amount you will need to pay to manage the joint expenses.
To sum up, there is no fixed formula to budgeting, and when there are two individuals and incomes involved, the task becomes even more complex. However, you can always use a mix and match approach, using the larger income for spending and the lower-income for savings.
While saving and managing expenses is the main goal, you can always change the approach to see which works best. You can always try one method and switch to another after a month or more. The key is to remember that you are a team now and need to work together to plan for a better future together. It is important for a couple to be involved in financial decisions and agree upon all major decisions.