How to Manage Finances as a Couple
Marriage is an institution, more like a business. And like all other businesses requires proper management especially when it comes to ‘Finances’ in order for it to succeed. Let’s take a look at principle based ideas on how to manage finances as a couple – proper money management between husbands and wives.
You can watch our short video on how to manage finances as a couple
Why Finance Management between Couples?
It is important to realize money is among the top topics on which couples, both old and young have a hard time finding an agreement spot. Who pays the bills? Who takes care of the kid’s tuition? And more questions. Of course this is the case in our society of today where both male and female have almost equal, if not equal rights to working anywhere and earning an income. However, about fifty (50) years ago, going out to work, and earning a salary was more of a task carried out exclusively by men while the women stayed home and took care of the kids. As such the roles were clear, the men had to and did provide all the financial needs of the family. But today, women not only work as much as men, but can also earn higher incomes than most of them.
So we have two sources of income for the family and as such the idea of sharing responsibility or the burden of supporting the family is entertained more and more by men. Worst even, what happens when the wife earns more than her husband? How do they make maximum use of their resources without anyone (the woman) having the feeling of being exploited by the other? What happens when the man temporarily for some reasons has no income source? Therefore obviously with change in times and culture, every couple must wisely adapt in order to save themselves from continuous frictions.
Consequences of Poor Financial Management in Marriage.
Continuous disagreement of course gradually leads to anger, hatred and isolation. In situations where spouses find it hard to give up their earnings for some task which they esteem is the other’s responsibility, each spouse tends to see the other as selfish and/or self-centered. Moreover, one of the main pillars of a sustainable marriage, trust, is easily destroyed by such continuous disagreement. Suspicion starts creeping into the mind of spouses as they suspect the financial dealings and integrity of their partner. But with a proper finance management scheme, high accountability, and openness, every marriage will thrive financially.
The Underlying Ideas
1)What is Marriage: Marriage, in different cultures, people and places has different definitions. As such the understanding from those definitions determine what is proper and what is not as a practice. What is ethical and what is not. However, I want to take my definition of marriage from the instituter of marriage Himself, the Creator as recorded in scriptures: “Marriage is a sacred union between two people – a male and female in a lifelong relationship, where the two become one” (Genesis 2:24). The real underlying idea here which will guide us as we identify the proper finance management scheme is the part “… the two become one”. This principle or rather mystery of two summing up to one is vital for success in marriage.
This means when a man and woman get married, they lose their individuality in the face of one another. Therefore there is no longer place for words like ‘my, I, me’ but rather ‘our, we and us’. So there is nothing like my car, my house but rather our car, our house, and our salary! This principle is key. There is no longer room for personal privacy of any sort if you two are melting into one.
2)What Roles: A husband is the primary breadwinner for his family. As such support from his spouse will be a blessing and a plus but according to principle not an obligation. A virtuous wife as painted out by the proverb writer (Proverbs 31:10-31) is she that will do anything for the well being of her family and as such sharing in the financial responsibilities of the family is a trait of such a wife. So let’s take a look at three sample financial management schemes. And judge the best with this underlying ideas in mind.
3 Finance Management Schemes
The sample money management schemes are when couples have:
1) Separate accounts with complete privacy
This method just from the title already smells failure. Privacy is bad for a sustainable marriage model as it always sparks curiosity, suspicion, investigation, frustration, assumption and separation. That sounds like the pathway to divorce. When couples not only possess separate accounts but do so in all discretion or privacy, it is difficult to trust one another in such conditions of secrecy. So when it comes to spending for the family, it is difficult to honestly take responsibility for bills as everything is based on the ‘assumed’ amount of money in possession by each spouse. With the lack of accountability it even gets discouraging for one spouse or both. Assumption is bad!
2) Single Account, total openness and accountability
Uplifting the barriers of each spouse possessing an individual account to using a single common family account sounds quite good and more or less plausible. With this method, both spouses have knowledge of the family’s entire financial situation irrespective of who earns what. With this there is openness and accountability since nothing can be hidden. However, in a scenario where the wife earns more than the husband, the man might not feel entirely like the breadwinner as he gets to spend his wife’s earning as much as his and even more. And men love to feel in charge, making this method to become uncomfortable for most men in the long run. Moreover in situations of conflict, one spouse can screw the other by emptying the account and disappearing in thin air leaving them frustrated.
Therefore though this scheme might address the challenge, the side effects and risk involved is quite important.
3) Separate accounts, plus Family account and total accountability and openness
It is important to identify the core problem we intend to solve here: build trust and better money concerned decisions in marriage by encouraging unity, total openness and accountability. With that in mind, it doesn’t really matter the number accounts. But if there is zero privacy/secrecy, total openness, accountability and a sense of oneness between couples with the complete understanding of their financial situation then managing finances will be a lot easier.
According to my research, this scheme is the best. It encourages common mindedness with a family account (an account where both spouses put in a percentage of their earnings for the running of the family), with both spouses still in possession of their personal – though not private accounts. Every husband will support their family from their personal earnings and the corporately raised finances by them and their wife in the family account. The wife feels important as she contributes to the well being of her family. And the husband supports the family as the breadwinner without feeling threaten the income of his wife. It all works through mutual understanding, sincere openness and accountability.
So those are the three (3) plausible financial management schemes couples adopt and my recommendation and certainly the best of them is number 3. I will like you to look at them, and leave all your questions and comments below. Of course these aren’t all the schemes there could be, so if you know any you will love to share, I, and your fellow readers are quite eager to learn from you in the comments below. You should check out more of our articles on the subject of marriage and relationships: Marriage and Relationship. Join the discussion in our forum. If you loved this article, please share it with two (2) of your friends to spread the good knowledge and get their feedback. Thanks for reading!
Wisdom for Dominion.