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Let's Talk About Money As A Couple

  • Financial Literacy


During a recent forum, I was able to reconnect with a good friend of mine, Efren Cruz. As we chatted, we reminisced on a conversation we had a few years back. He said, “Sa ating Pinoy, ang ina ang ilaw ng ating tahanan” (For us Filipinos, a mother symbolizes the light of our home), and completes the statement with “unfortunately, the role of the father is to pay the electricity bill”.

Funny as it may be, this mentality of the “wife taking care of the budget” while “the husband does all the earnings” is probably the reason why, for most couples, money is such a difficult subject to talk about. Today, things are different. More and more families have dual income earners and in some cases, our Sheroes are even the primary breadwinners! 

The need for dual income has created new challenges for couples, complicating the issue of money further. In fact, studies have shown that “money is directly or indirectly the cause of a lot of troubles in couples”. But for me, I believe that couples who discuss money issues openly and those who handle this item properly, are benefited positively, strengthening their relationship further and gaining long-term financial wellness in return.

The best time to talk about money was yesterday. Today is the next best time.

Stop procrastinating! Procrastination will just lead you to potential problems in the future. A lot of people ignore discussing money issues and usually just wait for some catastrophic event to happen like your spouse losing your child’s entire college fund to charity (unfortunately via PAGCOR) or suddenly you get the shock of your life to find out that your spouse’s idea of window shopping is buying the entire window display! Doing it now will give you the opportunity to discuss money matters in a very objective, calm and relaxed atmosphere.

Communicate and talk about your plans

The two things you need to talk about is your day-to-day household expenses and your long-term financial plan. Make sure you share why your financial goals are important and why you want to start a financial plan to begin with.  Doing so will improve understanding, putting you both in the same level and helping you work as a team.

Know what type of couple you are!

Though there are many different kinds of partnership dynamics and financial planning techniques,there are three types that we can often see in the Filipino family, namely: “The Independents”, The Partners”, and “The Captain and Soldier”. 

The Independents. This type of couple take care of their own finances and usually just assign certain expenses to each one. One partner may take care of the household expenses while the other takes care of saving up for education, car repairs, insurance and other investments. There may be some involvement by the other but it’s very minimal.   

The Partners

This type of couple makes all decision with regard to finance, as a couple.  There are varying degrees on this partnership. On one end, they decide on just the major ones while on the other end, they decide on everything. 

The Captain and Soldier. This set up has only one decision maker (the captain) as the other one (the soldier) has very minimal to no involvement in the financial decisions. I don’t believe that one is better than the other. Choose the one that fits you best. Regardless of what you choose though, I would like to encourage you to create three things: a financial plan, a family budget, and a common fund.

A Financial Plan is to provide direction to the financial decisions of the family. It allows you to understand how each financial decision affects other areas of your finances. It’s like having a blue print as you build your house. By viewing each financial decision as part of a whole, you can consider its short and long-term effects on your life goals. You and your family can also adapt more easily to life changes and feel more secure that your goals are on track

Set a Family Budget. This serves as your family budget tracking system. List down your expected income on one column and expenses on another column. If you are not certain with the figures, you can use your past experience to estimate the amounts. Adjust later as necessary but it’s always better to be conservative at this point by estimating higher than average expense.

Create a Common Fund

This fund serves as the family kitty fund or the house piggy bank. This is where we put our money budgeted for the house and equally, this where we take our expenses, daily, weekly or monthly like electricity bills. Having this can help us keep track of my budget versus the actual spending better. Here we can know where our money is going and were we are saving. Match this will your budget set earlier.

Bring in a Third Party 

By all means, if you can do it yourselves if you can. But if it’s too difficult to sort your financial issues, then a financial planner will be very helpful. The two things that we often hesitate to seek help for is family relationship issues and money matters. Fortunately, a Financial Planner can help you in both. A planner can play a critical role in coaching and facilitating the communication as well as the planning, making sure you are on the right track and avoid pitfalls in your finances later on. 

There will always be challenges ahead but what is important is you both respect each other’s perspective. Always remember, you are a team with the same goal… and that is to achieve Financial Wellness.  Here’s to Wealthy Living!

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AUTHOR BIO Senior Wealth Management Executive

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