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Money Talk with Nimi: Romance & Finance

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Whether you are in a serious relationship, just recently married, or have been married for several years, money matters can be controversial if not handled carefully. When two people become a couple they confront a myriad of financial choices and decisions. Are you engaged? How much do you know about your fiance’s financial situation? After the excitement of the wedding ceremonies, it will be time to face your financial future together.

Navigating this somewhat sensitive issue is important because financial problems can strain relationships to breaking point and have been cited as a major cause of divorce yet most couples go into marriage without ever broaching this subject. It may not be romantic, but it is important. Here are some of the money issues that you should discuss with your significant other.

Attitudes to money are formed very early on in life and usually develop over many years. You may not even realize the full effect of your childhood experiences, circumstances, and your parent’s attitude towards money; indeed many people simply assume the savings and money management habits of their parents. Were they very frugal, disciplined savers, or were they spendthrifts?

In relationships there may be different goals and priorities. One may be averse to debt whilst for the other debt is a way of life. He might want a flash car, whilst she feels more secure with money in the bank. She might spend all the housekeeping money on jewelry, shoes and bags whilst his priority is to give the children a sound education. He may view the new home cinema as their greatest new asset, whilst her priority is to make a down payment on their own home. If the differences are fundamental this will be a source of conflict. At the same time, be conscious of the fact that it shouldn’t be all about scrimping and saving towards the future; enjoy yourselves as well.

Who Will Manage the Family Finances?
Women often enter marriage assuming that their spouse will handle all money issues and thus delegate almost total responsibility and sit on the sidelines without being involved. Determine who is best able to manage the routine everyday financial matters. Teamwork is essential and shared duties work well for some families, but even if one party is more involved, both should have a general overview of the total picture. Periodic meetings are important so you know where you stand financially and can see whether you are actually moving closer towards your family goals.

How Much Debt Are You Bringing To the Marriage?
Many people do not discover the full extent of their spouse’s financial obligations until they are married. Debt brought into marriage can be a major source of strife if not well handled. Each partner should know the debt load the other one carries, as once you are married that debt load is shared. Whilst you are not legally responsible for the loans opened in your spouse’s name, it could certainly affect your eligibility for joint loans such as a mortgage. It should be a priority to try to deal with it together and bring it under control.

How Do You Feel About Budgeting?
It is surprising how many married couples get by without a budget. Through budgeting you have a better idea of what is coming in and how much can be spent. You should both know how much you pay for your rent or mortgage, utility bills, insurance, and so on. Budgeting responsibilities should be shared such that neither partner should feel that they have to shoulder the entire responsibility. Periodic meetings, are useful to review bank balances, any outstanding debt, routine expenses as well as any major expenses that need to be carefully planned for.

Who Pays For What?
Something as basic as the handling of everyday household expenses is a source of friction in many families. How will you handle routine household expenses? You both earn but how much should each person contribute? Are you both doing your “share”? Should it be equal amounts no matter what each person earns, or a certain percentage? If you earn significantly more or less than your spouse, it seems only fair to contribute amounts in proportion to your respective incomes to reflect this imbalance.

Some couples assign expenses – you pay the rent and school fees, whilst I’ll pay for groceries, utility bills, and so on. Others couples use one partner’s income for all expenses and apply the other income to build up savings and investments.

Will You Have Separate or Joint Accounts or a Combination of the Two?
There has been extensive debate over single and joint accounts. Some argue that joint accounts create a sense of unity that is vital to any relationship. If money is separated do you weaken the bond that is the essence of any long-term relationship? On the other hand, separate accounts allow each the ability to retain some independence; this it is suggested could actually strengthen a relationship.

Having a joint account combined with individual accounts for personal expenses is a good compromise as each partner takes some responsibility for the household budget, yet is still able to retain some autonomy. Partners contribute a certain amount of their monthly salary into the joint account to cover routine household expenses such as food, utility bills and so on. Some couples decide to pay their salaries into the joint account and then pay themselves a monthly allowance.

If you had a fairly independent existence before this relationship and managed your own finances and made your own investment decisions, it may be more difficult to give up that control to another person. Yet if you were not particularly structured about your finances you might be more able to opt for a joint account.

It is important to remember that parties to a joint account have a right to withdraw all the money in the account. It is for this reason that the use of joint accounts is usually limited to people who have built a solid level of trust. Look critically at the options and try to come to a compromise that will suit your relationship.

Will You Set Spending Limits?
Do you have to account for everything you spend to your spouse? If you show up with an expensive new TV or a car, could this be a cause of tension? Everyone needs some personal spending money that doesn’t have to be accounted for. The amount will vary depending on the couples resources and lifestyle. Some couples set spending limits on how much either can spend without consulting each other.

With careful planning, clear communication and compromise, many frustrating conversations can be avoided and conflicts resolved. There is no one size fits all when it comes to relationships and finances; even the best system may not always be appropriate so be prepared to modify your system as your relationship and financial situation evolve. Try to find the right balance that works for your situation; if one option doesn’t work, try another.

Happy Valentines Day!

Photo Credit: atlantablackstar.com

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Nimi Akinkugbe has extensive experience in private banking and wealth management. She is passionate about encouraging financial independence and offers frank, practical insights to create a greater awareness and understanding of personal finance and wealth management issues. She is married with 3 children.Find out more via www.nimiakinkugbe.com

Nimi Akinkugbe has extensive experience in private wealth management. She seeks to empower people regarding their finances and offers frank, practical insights to create a greater awareness and understanding of personal finance. You can reach Nimi via the following: Email; [email protected] | Website: www.moneymatterswithnimi.com | Twitter: @MMWITHNIMI | Instagram: @MMWITHNIMI | Facebook: MoneyMatterswithNimi

14 Comments

  1. mia

    February 12, 2014 at 9:59 am

    very insightful

  2. http://www.anemistyle.com

    February 12, 2014 at 10:25 am

    2 months into our marriage my husband and I just had the money talk, not easy at all. You are right Nimi careful planning, clear communication and compromise is the way forward. THANKS!

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      February 12, 2014 at 11:13 am

      Before we have the money talk sef, your spending habits would say a lot about you.

      I am frightened for myself because I spend money like its going out of fashion. Talking about childhood influences, sorry to say, my parents did not help much in that regard. They did not encourage saving money because you are expected to ask for anything you wanted. Even when I tried to do it on the sly, there was no encouragement or discipline and the housemaids were often fond of “borrowing” money to get one thing or the other for the house which was never returned. You could not report, because, technically you were not expected to have money. In return, you quickly spend whatever you had.

      I did not know how badly it had affected my attitude towards money until when I started working. When I have money, all I can think of is spending. I’m getting a firmer grip on it, but truth be told it has not been easy. Those formative years men, they have you on life without parole.

      Thank you for this money talk, Nimi. I know the comments here are usually sparse hence, discouraging, but think of people like me who would empty my account of gratitude to show how deeply appreciated you are.

  3. Dr. N

    February 12, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Learned budgeting the hard way from hubby. Yeah, he’s tough like that, tho generous! Not a pleasant thing but I think it helps if partners know they’ve got each other’s back. That means I’m not asking how much u earn to mock u, but to plan realistically. Thumbs up.

    drnsmusings.wordpress.com

  4. Robertha

    February 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    I am in a relationship right now and this article is helping me plan properly. I have a bad spending habit,and I have always had this belief that a man needs to take all the responsibility which is bad on my side. Thank you so much for giving me a better understanding. Looking forward to more articles. *winks*

  5. Aibee

    February 12, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    I remember the Le Boos shock when I told him I was broke! Lol! The money talk is one couples should have even once they begin to plan a life together. It helps them set their wedding budget and plan for what kind of lifestyle they want and how to fund it.
    Thank you Aunty Nimi.

  6. Joan85

    February 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Finance is always a touchy subject in relationships. Thanks Nimi

  7. FunkyW

    February 12, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Thank you soooo much, this is my first time reading your article and it is very insightful. My mum really endeared the saving habit in all her children, even though we had so little. I still remember the good feeling of being the first to reach the milestone of saving up to N100

  8. FunkyW

    February 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Thank you so much, this is my first time reading your article and it is very insightful. My mum really endeared the saving habit in all her children, even though we had so little. I still remember the good feeling of being the first to reach the milestone of saving up to N100

  9. jirla

    February 12, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Very interesting article! Nimi how do you handle finances when one partner (female )makes three to four times more?

  10. Mrs Nwosu

    February 12, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Yes nice article. Am not a spendrift, however am not able to work with a budget am always coming up short begore the end of the month. What am i not doing right Aunty Nimi?

  11. Mrs Nwosu

    February 12, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Sorry before end of month

  12. Tiki

    February 13, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Money talk is very important! I earn way more than my bf but it amazes me how he manages to pay for everything, save AND put me on a (symbolic) monthly allowance. It is amazing when you balance each other out financially, I tell you! Even though we aren’t married, we are on the same financial wavelength. He inspires me to be more financially responsible, and I think I inspire him to be more of a hustler and make more money!

  13. frances

    February 13, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Voice(writings) of wisdom. Keeping it in mind for the future. Thanks Nimi

    imperfectlyperfect92.wordpress.com

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