We may have come across the lines “ Money is the main cause of corruption” in various scenarios and it applies very well to the institution of marriage too. Finances can slowly become the biggest cause of friction in a marriage and can lead to couples drifting apart just for the plain reason of miscommunication and ego clashes related to its handling.
Some couples may even claim to have a perfectly fine marriage life but may require money counseling in their premarital sessions to understand their views on earning, handling and saving money.
Let us now focus on how finances can throw a wrench into a marriage and make the couple struggle considerably to reach a consensus.
Signs you need counselling
You are often unable to decide who should handle the expenses, inclining more towards the stereotype of the man of the house getting to handle the finances in the end.
· You are a working couple who feel separate bank accounts are necessary to retain some privacy in spending, splurging, saving and the like.
· Monetary issues are kept on the backburner with one of you decide in the end and your partner completely ignoring or being ignored as a solution.
· Managing money should be a joint effort but your contrasting opinions and views about money prevent you from doing so.
· One of you is a sworn saver and the other one a complete shopaholic who loves to splurge at the slightest notice. Hence the tragedy of money!
· Your socio-economic backgrounds and parental style of handling expenses is so ingrained in nature that you can clash due to this difference of opinion on how much debt, credit score, tax returns and cash is acceptable for your current situation.
· One of you is a risk taker related to debt and the other one believes in not even going hand-to-mouth out of fear of an emergency situation in the future. The outcome of such contrasting money values often seeps into your marital peace.
· You are often at each other’s throats when it comes to dealing with bill payments, collectors, and repossessions/evictions which completely overshadow your respect and hurt your pride in losing an argument!
Questions to discuss and assess
Why are we always shying away from disclosing our assets and liabilities to each other?
· Did we ever feel the need to openly talk about who earns, who saves, who handles the expenses and who invests where?
· Is there an involvement of the in-laws in the handling of expenses after our marriage? Do we have to consult them before taking any important decisions?
· What is the opinion regarding operating separate accounts and a joint account for various expenditures and transfer of incomes?
· Why is sharing copies of tax returns and credit scores with each other out of question?
· Budgets and savings before marriage are a personal topic and have not been shared. How to go about it?
· To what extent should assets like gold, inherent property rights, land on rent etc. be discussed between us?
· One of us earns more and has an inherent feeling of being more powerful and inherent of the right to take the final call in monetary decisions. How do we sort this attitude?
· A huge amount of debt was accumulated by my partner over the years and it came as a shock cum surprise at this moment. How do we deal with it without hurting our relationship?
· Managing household expenses as a team is a distant dream, all thanks to our fundamentally conflicting ways and upbringing on the concept of money. How do we achieve a common ground for a balanced budget to suit our needs and also stay within an acceptable limit?
· We often fail to communicate our monetary needs considering it as a sensitive topic hence leaving one of us fully unaware of the resentment caused to our spouse. How do we garner the courage to speak up and join this broken bridge?
Advice to expect
You may be surprised how easy and simple the solution is for all this money mess-Communication!
· Openly discussing and separately listing your assets, liabilities, income sources, loans, debts is the first step to break the ice.
· You need to be truthful from the start and not make it a matter of ego when discussing even the biggest loan or debt you had undertaken in the past.
· Always be aware of the debt trap and never overestimate your future income when considering large and important transactions in life-turning events.
· Investing in stocks with borrowed funds is almost never a cool idea as heavy losses in the stock market could easily lead to debt bulging out of control and more trouble at home.
· Sit together, plan a budget according to the expenses available keeping each other’s priorities in mind. Most importantly, stick to it!
· Always save some money every month for unpredictable situations in the future like a medical emergency or a bankrupt situation!
· Life insurance planning is an essential aspect to deal with untimely death which can cause emotional and financial trauma as a combination. It provides the much-needed mortality protection or coverage in a term plan for a fixed time duration ranging from ten years to thirty years in exchange for a premium or a single payment.
· Investments in the right place matter the most considering the various options available, with the mutual agreement of course.
o Investments can be made in a fixed deposit, public provident fund or a debt mutual fund.
o Investment in equity is made in equity diversified mutual funds or shares.
· Tax planning is also commonly ignored but should be smartly dealt with. Planning the use of various tax-saving deductions and exemptions available under various sections of the IT Act can help choose the best path to obtain maximum benefit from your assets.
· Determining each other’s financial compatibility helps prevent any shocks and accepting your spouse for their choices and opinions about wealth.
· Be regular in following up about your account status, multiple account tracking, expenditures and spending in order to avoid any avalanches of misunderstanding and outstanding payments to striking out of the blue.
· Trust is essential to prevent any kind of financial infidelity in the future due to unfulfilled demands in the long run. Spending excessively in secret through various means will damage the relationship and your finances for sure.