Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

March 2012

Newlywed Finances

Ah money. “A necessary evil”, because “it makes the world go round”. Something that “can’t buy you happiness, but can buy the things that would make you happy”. Whatever it is to you, it’s hard to deny that everyone needs it. After all, we can’t survive on love and fresh air alone, can we? Well, not for long anyway. And after a while, we discover that all we need is indeed more than just love, love, love.

According to a study done by Utah State University, couples who disagreed about finances once a week were 30 per cent more likely to proceed with a divorce compared to couples who reported who had differing views about finances a few times a month.

If money management is challenging when you’re a swinging single, imagine how much more tricky it can be with a partner in the mix. Financial issues may present themselves to couples of certain situations more than others. For example, a newly-wed couple without children and live with their parents, may feel less inclined to have a serious talk about money. On the other hand, a couple expecting a child and has other financial commitments like housing mortgage and monthly car instalments, may know right from the start that they need to sort out their money matters in an agreement that’s comfortable for both husband and wife.

Joining Forces

Sales and Marketing personnel Jacklyn Phang, 33 and Personal Trainer Jerome Simon, 29, have been married for less than six months. They had dated for two and a half years before tying the knot. The pair has a joint account and they each contribute 35 per cent of their salary to it. The money from this account is used to pay for all the bills and household items as well as anything that benefits the both of them.

“We started the joint account a year before our wedding. The financial arrangement was discussed when we both decided to get married. Good thing we had the same idea towards money management. We also went for a pre-martial counselling course and the topic was also further discussed. We don’t know how much there is in each other’s personal account but we do consult each other if we want to spend more than $200 on an item; this helps us not to overspend.”

What’s yours is yours, what’s mine is mine

Sharon Lim, 36, an accountant, and Sebastian Kang, 41, an IT consultant, dated for three years, have been married for six, and have a three-year-old. They do not have a joint account, and have no intention to start one.

“The thought of having a joint account never crossed our minds. When we were dating, we simply took turns paying for everything. Seb earns about 20 per cent more than I do, so for the big ticket items like the wedding and the house, he contributes more than I do. Seb now pays for our home and instalments, while I pay for our daughter’s childcare and enrichment classes. This arrangement seems to be working out well for us; I think we’ll be sticking with it.”

We’ll play it by ear

31 year-old Vikneswari Rethinam, a primary school teacher, and her self-employed husband Dinesh Kumar, 32, dated for six months and knew they were right for each other. Despite only being married for three months, the couple has a very rigid financial agreement. They have a joint savings account and intend to let the money accumulate while they split the responsibility for pricier items, and are still maintaining their individual savings accounts for which they use for their personal commitments. Interestingly, they take turns to pay for meals, and choose to go dutch when the bill is an exceptionally big one.

The New York Times suggests yet-to-be married couples address four issues relating to money before tying the knot:

  • Ancestry: Many of our money behaviours are learned so look back at your own childhood, and dig out the memories of your own parents and how they dealt with money.
  • Credit: Be honest with each other about loan payments or credit cards that you might have.
  • Control: Figure out who will be paying which bills at the end of every month. Talk about how you want to pay those bills – would they come from a joint account? Would the one who contributes more get to have a bigger say to the financial decisions?
  • Affluence: Think about how rich you want to be, and what kind of things you or your partner would need to do to reach that status. Would it mean that one of you would have to give up time with the family to work 18-hour days to achieve that status? Would the other person then have to be a “single parent” and raise the children on his or her own?

If this is all too overwhelming for now, don’t worry – it’s never too late to take a step in the right financial direction. Make some time this weekend to talk things through with your partner; you might be surprised at the outcome. Remember that honesty and an open channel of communication is crucial when you approach sensitive issues such as money.