MANILA - If you are planning to walk down the aisle soon, make sure that you and your intended spouse have discussed one of the most important aspects of married life: money.
Although money talk may be the least romantic when all you have in mind are sweet nothings and dreams of togetherness, having it is actually a good way to get your marriage off to a good start.
That’s because money will affect almost every decision you will be making as a couple, directly or indirectly. It will be a factor to consider, for example, when you choose where to live, or when you decide how many children to have.
Even your smallest decisions as a married couple will have a financial aspect--from your choice of food for your next meal to the type of pet you would like to have in your home. It is also not surprising that the top cause of friction among married couples has to do with money matters, not so much the lack of it, but misaligned expectations on it.
Ideally, you should have the money talk before you decide to tie the knot. If you are already married but have not had this talk, then it would be best to have it. This talk sets expectations and ensures there are no unfulfilled ones, minimizing disappointments when expectations are not aligned. It also puts the two of you on the same page, and allows you to discuss your priorities. This talk is a good opportunity to discuss your plans as a couple.
Disclosure is also important since your spouse will eventually own your assets. Note that in the Philippines, your assets will become jointly owned once you get married, unless you have a pre-nuptial agreement that states the exceptions to joint ownership of these assets.
Have an open mind and make sure to approach this talk with a listening mind. Be honest with each other. Keep a positive tone, and remember that your goal is to help each other out so that you can achieve your goals together.
Here are five topics that you should include in your money conversation:
1. Your financial status.
It is important for your spouse to know your financial status--your savings, investments, assets, debt, and other financial obligations. If you are providing money to your family, make sure to disclose this. Your spouse should also have an idea as to how much your regular income is, as well as the state of your cash flow. This information is important because it will give your spouse an idea of the kind of lifestyle you might have. Your spouse may have the notion that you make a lot more, and may end up expecting a more extravagant lifestyle than you can actually afford.
2. Do you want to have joint savings.
Decide how you would form a joint savings fund. This is a fund separate from your individual savings, which you may or may not opt to bring into the common fund. For practical reasons, many married couples have their individual and joint savings funds. While you may not yet be able to work out details of this, it will be good to simply establish expectations at this point, like how often you would contribute to this fund, and if both spouses are expected to put money into this, granting both have incomes
3. Who keeps the money.
Early on, decide on who should handle your money. This task can actually be shared by both. However, for practicality’s sake, the couple may decide that one would be physically handling funds more often for everyday expenses. Obviously, this person is expected to make disbursements majority of the time--arranging to pay the bills, giving the household help their salaries, stand in line at the grocery counter.
4. How to make financial decisions as a couple.
Communication is very important for any married couple, in particular for financial and money issues. As a married couple, your financial decisions will affect each other, from savings, investments, debt, and the like. It is therefore important to agree on how you would arrive at these decisions. Ask yourself these questions: Would one person make decisions in behalf of the couple and family? Should the other spouse first be consulted before these decisions are made? If both partners cannot agree, how should both proceed in making the decision?
5. Your money priorities as a couple.
Ask yourself what matters most to you as a couple, and to each of you individually. You may be surprised that what you consider more important may be a lesser priority for your partner. For instance, you may wish to start having children while your partner may prioritize building up savings and advancing career-wise. All these will have financial implications. Being able to identify your priorities will help you decide your next moves, which will eventually shape your financial objectives.
In truth, money talk is not just a must for new couples. Rather, it is a continuing talk that should be held as often as possible, to ensure that both you and your spouse can arrive at decisions harmoniously.
Grow Your Money is an editorial partnership between news.abs-cbn.com and Citi Philippines to promote financial education and provide helpful information to Filipinos on how to better manage their personal finances.
Visit www.citibank.com.ph for more information.