By Marli Naidoo
The best time in your marriage to discuss money matters, is long before you walk down the aisle. Financial stress is one of the factors that cause marriages to crumble. Unfortunately, it is not possible to survive on fresh air alone. However, it is never too late to find a way in which you can adapt the manner in which you divide or manage your money, regardless of whether you are engaged or have been married for thirty years.
There is no right or wrong way to divide expenses. The key is to discuss it and then decide what will work best for both of you.
Most couples prefer that each has his or her own bank account and credit cards, and then divide domestic expenses equally, such as mortgage costs and rates and taxes. The husband can for example pay everything after his wife has deposited half of the amount in his account. Make sure you planned ahead thoroughly. In households where both spouses earn more or less the same, it will make sense to divide mutual expenses 50/50. However, it gets more complicated when one earns much more than the other, but still wants a 50/50 division. Also make sure that you don’t push up the mutual account with unnecessary expenditure and in so doing force your partner to then pay more than is necessary. Being considerate is important, and once again communication is the key.
Another way of managing the family’s finances is to have everything in one account. Each partner has his or her own bank card, and everything is paid for and purchased from the one account. This way makes the budget process easier. You will be able to see exactly what your partner spends, and will have to make sure that you discuss any unusual expenditure. This method can however only work if both of you share the same ideas about what priority expenses are, and what is not important.
Finances can also be managed by having three bank accounts: yours, mine and ours. Decide which accounts will be paid out of the mutual account. Discuss the amount which each one has to pay into this account monthly. The amount could be 50/50, or in the case where the one partner earns more than the other, the division could for example be adjusted to 70/30. This method keeps the budget process simple, and also guarantees independence and privacy.
In households where only one partner works, or where one earns less than the other, the main breadwinner can pay his or her partner an allowance. This allowance can be for certain monthly expenses, such as rental or food, or can be simply for personal expenses. Decide on an amount and system that suit you both. This allowance must however not be seen as a favour. The partner might contribute a smaller or no income, but also works by for example managing the home and taking care of the children.
After all, you are in a partnership that needs to be managed with love and sacrifice. Try to look at one another’s interest unselfishly when you make financial decisions, and apply self-control when it comes to spending.
Money under 30: https://www.moneyunder30.com/how-do-you-split-expenses-with-your-partner-or-spouse
Money advice service: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/should-we-manage-money-jointly-or-separately
Life and a budget: https://lifeandabudget.com/manage-bills-married-couple/