The number one reason for divorce in the United States? Money. In the Philippines, it's also a marital issue that cannot be ignored. It seems that while some people can handle annoying in-laws and quirky habits, many can’t get past that financial hurdle: couples either disagree on money matters, or are too reluctant to discuss it.
The thing is, failing to talk about how money is handled can result in an unhappy marriage--wherever you may reside. One thing’s for certain: not having the same saving and spending philosophy can be a deal breaker in any relationship. If you couldn’t talk about money when you were dating, then brace yourself for big money shockers after the honeymoon.
Anna* recalls how money played a major part in the demise of her two-and-a-half year marriage: “My ex was a compulsive spender. I was always the one who was better at saving money. Yet he refused to let me handle our money. His belief was that he worked hard to get his salary, so why would he give it to anyone else?”
That being said, how one couple handles their money might not work for another. Here are some money management styles some married couples swear by:
“I leave it to the expert.” Amy, a personal assistant, has been married to her husband Paul for four years. While she confesses that they never discussed money matters while dating, it seemed like a default decision that Paul handles their finances. The decision being that Paul is a financial adviser.
“He handles people’s money for a living, so it makes sense that he handles ours,” says Amy.
Every payday, both their paychecks get deposited into a mutual account. Every week, she and Paul walk to a nearby ATM and withdraw their week’s worth of “allowance”: lunch money at work, shopping money. They use their credit card to pay for bills, which is automatically debited to their account.
While Amy has a personal account, she hasn’t touched it in years. “I don’t see the need for one, actually. We share our money.”
“He pays the bills, she handles savings.” Advertising writers Michael and Liza have been married for two years, and Michael handles their finances. They opened a checking account to pay for all payables: the rent, utilities, cable TV, internet, credit cards, phone plans, and loans. They also opened a savings account.
The set-up goes like this: Michael puts his salary in the checking account, and Liza puts hers in the savings account. The savings account isn’t touched at all, since, well, they consider it as their savings.
As for allowances, Michael says that anything in excess in the checking account goes to a “leisure bucket."
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“We pool our money and set an allowance for each other.” Kat and Red have been married for close to five years, and both pool their money in a mutual fund before dividing it up according to their budget.
“We talked about it a long time ago how we would handle our money,” says Kat. “At the start of the year, I draw up a budget sheet with all the things we need to pay for—say, utilities, food, etc.” The two pay for their utilities with credit cards.
Along with agreeing with a budget, both of them assign allowances for each other, and set aside some money for savings per month.
“I leave it all to her.” Dan and Jen have been married for 13 years. And between them, it was a given that Jen, who decided on being a housewife to raise their two kids, would handle the money.
“Every pay day, my salary automatically gets transferred to her account via Express Online Banking,” shares Dan. “So it’s always a joke that my salary barely landed—it always takes off right away!”
Once Jen gets Dan’s salary, she promptly fixes the family’s budget, setting aside money for bills, utilities, and the kids’ tuition. She also sets aside money for “family days”, when they all go out for lunch or dinner on weekends. As for personal purchases, Jen allots a certain amount for Dan to spend on things he wants. However, he still has to discuss big purchases with Jen.
“I have an expensive hobby: I collect and restore vintage cameras. So when I need pricey parts, or find an expensive camera, I still ask my wife for her opinion if I should buy it or not,” says Dan. “Just because it’s my money doesn’t mean I can or should spend it however way I wish—I’m married now, and whatever I do affects my family.”
* name has been changed
Savvy Living asks: How about you, readers? How do you and your spouse effectively manage your finances? Share it with us in the comments section below.