A happy married life can be happier if critical financial matters are handled with mutual consent for a healthy relationship. Financial mistrust is often the primary reason behind marital discord that may even lead to separation or divorce. That said, if the husband and wife mutually share their financial responsibilities, it can help in achieving their major financial goals in time. An effective financial plan, as such, can help couples to draw the maximum benefit of their income and smartly manage their expenses. However, finding common ground on money matters and financial goals can be more complicated than you think. So, how do you do it? We’ve some financial planning tips that couples would find very useful.
SET SHARED FINANCIAL GOALS
When it comes to important financial matters, it's better to sit together and decide things in advance. Make the plan by understanding each other's financial priorities. Many of us have a habit of not sharing our financial plans and perspectives, even with our partners. It makes us uncomfortable. Then there are others who perceive doing so a futile or unnecessary exercise. However, not discussing financial goals with each other might result in conflict.
The best idea is to identify short and long term financial goals that are shared by both (like raising Rs. 3 lakh for an international trip later in the year, buying a house in 3 years, etc.) and make plans factoring in inputs from each other to achieve those goals in time.
HANDLE THE DEBT TOGETHER: IT’S WAY MORE PROFITABLE TOO!
Handling a debt together can not only help in enhancing the borrowing limit but also ensure the repayment is done timely. Plus, it also helps in mitigating stress and can provide an extra cushion while clearing the loan if both the partners are earning members.
The borrowing capacity threshold increases significantly when a loan is jointly applied for, especially when it comes to big-ticket financing facilities like a home loan or a business loan. There are also a number of tax benefits and subsidies that can be enjoyed upon co-applying for certain loan products. Similarly, lenders might not extend a loan if it’s applied by an individual who happens to have a poor credit score. But, if applied jointly, the loan application strengthens if the other applicant has a good credit score, something that significantly improves the chances of getting the loan approved with better repayment terms.
DON'T HIDE FINANCIAL MATTERS
Hiding financial matters from the spouse can have dangerous ramifications. On the other hand, a couple can majorly benefit in making better money decisions if they discuss their financial plans. Also, if some financial plan fails to deliver desired results, handling the stress and moving on becomes a lot easier when it’s a mutual decision, not a secretive one. Most significantly, hiding financial matters can jolt the foundational aspect of any healthy relationship: the trust factor.
Apart from this, people at times wrongly assume that since their partner doesn’t earn, he/she just won’t understand the workings and implications of a financial strategy, hence there’s no point discussing the plan with them. The truth, however, is by hiding their plans they are missing out on some valuable financial inputs that are likely aligned to their family’s finances. Also, discussions can prevent hasty, overconfident decisions that can be counter-productive to the family’s financial future. As such, it’s always desirable if you keep your spouse in the loop and factor in his/her inputs while implementing financial plans like applying for a loan and starting a new investment.
DISTRIBUTE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES
When both husband and wife earn money, there can be conflict arising out of the confusion over who will spend money to fund which commitment. The best way is to sit together and distribute financial responsibilities like rent, grocery, kids’ school fees, utility bills, vehicle maintenance, so on and so forth according to feasibility. The couple may segregate their fixed and variable expenses, their short and long-term investments and distribute their financial responsibilities in such a way that there is no financial or psychological stress on an individual to meet all the expenses.
MAINTAIN A JOINT ACCOUNT
A couple can have individual goals as well as mutual goals. Therefore, they should maintain a joint account along with their individual bank accounts. A joint account can be used to maintain the fund to meet mutual expenses and investments, which will ensure one doesn’t always have to rely on another to make a payment. However, for personal goals, couples can use their individual accounts to meet them in a timely manner. This way, there won’t be a conflict of financial interest when making payments for personal use and mutual purpose. (The author is CEO, BankBazaar.com)