Scenario 1: Shilpa, a 28year old fiercely independent woman works as a Chartered Accountant in a reputed MNC. Married last year she and her husband earn equally and adequately. They have separate bank accounts, savings and expenditure lists. She does not question her husband on how he spends/saves his money, nor does he question her. While this was an excellent, albeit unspoken financial agreement,the couple now plan to start a family.This is one of Shilpa dream come true, having a baby, she wants to take a two year break once she conceives to make the best of motherhood and family life. She wonders how to begin a conversation on money matters considering she would not be a full time worker any more. She wonders about joint savings for their children and about meeting day to day expenses. Conversations about money have always been uncomfortable in her family and often caused fights. She wonders what to do and how to talk about money with her husband.
Scenario 2: Ananta, a 35year old housewife has been married for the last 15 years. She married into a joint family and had to ask for money for her every day needs. She was not given an allowance and it never occurred to her husband to speak about finances with her. She was often frustrated and furious with everyone at home for the way they treated her when it came to money. How did she figure out money matters and continue to live happily married for the last 15 years?
Scenario 3: Ruksana 30 year of part-time worker is married to Aamir who has a high profile job. Aamir provides for the household expenses and the couple has a joint account for household and family expenses, since Aamir earns four times more than Ruksana he chooses to be the only one contributing to the joint account. Ruksana often runs by everything with her husband before making any kind of purchase, even if she is spending from her own pocket. Aamir on the other hand makes an extravagant purchase without running it by his wife, what is wrong with this picture?
Scenario 4: Smriti is the sole income earner while Shiva has taken a break from work to go back to business school this year. How do they figure out finances?
The scenarios are endless and so are the possible fights brewing out of these scenarios. What is the glaring issue we are talking about? Its money honey! Who gets what, how to spend and how to live peacefully with it in a relationship. A lot can depend on how you deal with money issues in your relationships/marriage. Here are some tips on figuring out how to make sense of money in your relationship.
- Know this: Money has no power of its own. It’s what we make of it that matters (and often troubles our relationship).
- Stay calm: When talking about money with your spouse, stay calm. Don’t push this discussion to a time when you absolutely HAVE to talk about money, instead, take time when everything is well in your financial life to sit together and make sense of how you might want to deal with finances as a team.
- Have an honest talk: Like I said before money has no power of its own. Its what we make of it that matters. So think back on what money means to you? How did your family deal with money issues? For some of us money means love, for others it is power, control or independence. What does money mean to you? Discuss this with your partner. She/he needs to know (as much as you do)where you are coming from when you start to worry, get paranoid, or go on a spending spree.
- Step out of the box: A ton of sites online and a ton of books offline will give you “how-tos” on the best ways to work money into your relationship peacefully. Read them. But know that you and your partner need to come up with a strategy best suited for your needs and situation. So, yes, you can have a joint account for household, vacation and other common expenses while having separate accounts for personal expenses. You can havea joint account for everything with budget restrictions on personal expenditure, you can even let one of you take care of all financial responsibilities. The goal is to work it out the best way possible. Transparency and honesty is the key of course. If you feel uncomfortable with something ’fess up and negotiate.
- Get help: Talking to a third person (such as me, a Counselor) about your particular issue can often be helpful in figuring out how to stay calm, be honest about money and make amends that help in building a successful marriage.
- Take a breather: You don’t have to figure it all out in one conversation of course. If discussions become heated, take a breather and go back to it later on. And really, money is often a hot issue in all our lives, so its okay to keep going back to talking about it till you figure it out.
How do you deal with money/finances in your relationship? How do people you know deal with it? Share your ideas and also tell us what works in your relationship. You never know, your idea might just help someone!