Dr Pesa: 5 financial tips couples should never ignore

Dear Dr Pesa,

I am a husband in my mid-twenties, only been married about one and a half years. Everything is working fine and our marriage is truly blissful except, we cannot agree on finances. For instance, I want a joint account, but she doesn’t. My wife prefers to keep her money for herself and as the man, I am under pressure to provide. I don’t even know how much she earns but I suspect it’s more than I do. We only fight about money and I hate bringing it up. Please help.

Distressed husband.

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Dear distressed husband,

Congratulations on your nuptials, I'm glad you find marriage blissful, not many do. 

However, as unromantic as money may sound, it is impossible to avoid talking about it if you hope to be successful as a couple. Your marriage partner can either be the reason for your success or contribute to your failure.

Therefore, you need to ask the right questions even before committing to marriage. Discuss everything, and talk about money as often as possible until you achieve a shared vision.

Here are five ways to get on the same page when it comes to your financial future.

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1. Be transparent

Cultivate openness and transparency in your financial affairs. Know each other’s current incomes, expenses, debts and liabilities. Come clean on your student loans, credit card debts, child or spousal support and what you send home for your parents or spend on your siblings. Secrets not only put a couple at risk of not meeting their family goals, but threaten the survival of the marriage.

2. Make plans jointly

Set long-term goals together. Think about your five, 10, 20, 30-year plans and write them down. There’s something powerful about seeing your dreams down on paper. Set retirement goals. Prioritise and work on a joint budget and share responsibilities. Set money aside for shared objectives – such as education, buying land or investing in shares.

3. Don’t rush into setting up a joint account

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You don’t have to combine finances immediately you say ‘I do’. Take the time to learn each other’s spending habits to avoid conflict down the line. To start off, you can maintain separate accounts and open a joint account with clear budget lines and agree on how both of you will contribute to the kitty and how the money will be managed.

To build trust, maintain accurate records, including for expenditure that doesn’t have receipts, such as buying vegetables from the estate Mama Mboga.

Operating a joint account should be a gradual process. If one partner is an impulsive spender or hides certain expenditure, it’s not advisable to operate a joint account as it will only lead to conflict.

4. Respect each other’s diversity

Do not micromanage each other. Everyone has things they do for themselves that make them happy and boost their self-esteem. This could be a hobby, buying make-up or clothes, or membership in a club or society. Rather than belittling something your spouse considers important, figure out how to work it into the budget. You can agree to set aside some cash that each of you can spend as you wish without having to account for it.

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5. Hold money dates to nurture team work

Hold regular money dates to brainstorm, share ideas, discuss your goals and evaluate your financial standing. These meetings are important for a couple’s growth. You’re either growing together or growing apart, so make a conscious effort to grow together. Joint planning is crucial whether both partners are earning an income or not.  

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Saving moneyDr PesaFinancial adviceRelationships