Money Matters

Managing money in your marriage is both a significant and delicate matter. Here are some tips to help you minimise conflict and misunderstandings

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

When it comes to marriage, joining two people’s lives together takes a lot of work, and some things may fall through the cracks. It is often the case with finances. Merging finances is an essential consideration of any life partnership, and for all its gravity, it’s also ironically a conversation that many avoid.

How you handle your finances as a couple varies depending on the nature of your relationship. Still, the first step is to have an open and honest conversation. Here are some useful tips to help you work out how to manage money successfully and sustainably as a couple:

Discuss Your Budget As a Team

Start assembling a budget by writing down all of your shared expenses. These include mortgage, utility bills, home improvements, insurance, and groceries and school fees. Then, tackle other debts you may have incurred before your marriage.

If your partner has a bigger loan liability, you may want to offer to help them out with the payments so that you can liberate yourselves sooner from that debt. Alternatively, offer to take responsibility for a larger percentage of the shared expenses, like paying for meals out or small vacations. If you have a more considerable debt than they do, be open and transparent about how they might help you pay it off.

In addition to shared expenses and debts, take the time to discuss your short-term and long-term goals together. Short-term goals, for example, may include a simple beach vacation, while a long-term goal might be buying a second house.

Taking the time to discuss your budget can help you track your incomes and expenses. Ultimately, it can help you learn how to improve your common financial standing.

Open A Joint Account, While Keeping Your Individual One

Having individual bank accounts can give both parties a sense of financial independence. However, it is also essential to have one joint account from which you can draw funds to pay for shared expenses.

Setting up a direct deposit from each individual account to your joint account will make it easier to contribute regularly. A joint bank account demands mutual trust.

It also encourages a shared commitment toward a common financial goal, such as a house, a car or your child’s education.

Work On A Savings Strategy

You will save and grow your money faster if both you and your partner apply yourselves to the same savings strategy. Commit to a specific savings level that both of you are comfortable with, and make regular deposits of an agreed amount into your joint savings bank account.

For example, you can both agree to save 20 per cent of your salaries every month. Agreeing to a percentage rather than a fixed amount means that both of you will be taking the same financial hit.

Using a percentage level will also make it easier to adjust your savings amount should your salaries change.

Talk About Money Regularly

Invite regular discussions about your finances into your marriage. Depending on your preference and schedule, these conversations can be held weekly, bimonthly or monthly. Both of you should be aware of your current financial standing. This includes how much money there is, where it is kept, what your expenses are, and what they are for.

Doing this can help clear up any misunderstandings or concerns that have come up so that issues or problems don’t get swept under the rug. It’ll also build trust, which is essential in having a healthy relationship and keep your marriage going strong.

If You Both Want To Invest, Consult An Expert

In the same way that your salaries may differ from each other, so may your investment behaviours. You may want to aggressively invest a high percentage of your savings. In contrast, your partner wants to conservatively place the household’s money in a low-risk but low-interestbearing account.

To manage your money equitably, try to find a middle ground that both of you will be happy with. If you are having a hard time reaching an acceptable compromise, you can always seek outside help from a financial advisor.

Make sure that your investment strategy is based on shared financial goals. You may be planning on early retirement at the age of 55 while your spouse is planning to work well past their 60th birthday.

Discuss these issues to ensure that your individual efforts are not counterproductive. Once you have decided on an investment plan, be aware of where your investments are placed, how well they are doing, and adjust your strategy accordingly as you go along.

In all, by maintaining open, honest and respectful communication between the two of you, you can create a viable plan to reach your shared financial objectives and live happier together.

My Reading Room


Every relationship is different, and although there is no standardised approach when it comes to finances, simply talking about it goes a long way. Readers share how they manage money with their partners.

“I’ve been married to my partner for 10 years now, and we’ve always had a joint bank account. We spend sensibly, and because of that, there’s mutual trust, so we don’t really question or check on each others’ exact expenses. We have a monthly P&L that we revisit only if the end balance is way out of range. This works very well for us because we’re transparent in our communication, and so we’re able to draw up a budget together. For this to work, you and your partner would have to be on the same page when it comes to how you view family budget, savings and expenses.”

- Gabriella H, 40, business operations

“On a quarterly basis, we calculate and review our spending, which informs how much we allocate for essential spending shared by both of us. For example, my husband pays the utility bills, I pay for the pet food. Whoever makes more spends more, of course, and that role can change depending on earning situations. What has worked for us in our seven years of marriage is taking the time as a couple to review what our combined financial commitments are. Understanding what we’d like to spend more or less on, highlights what is important to us as a couple to enjoy while making sure we are taking care of our future selves. Having a joint approach to managing our money has definitely brought us closer.”

- Nazneen Aziz, 45, entrepreneur

“It’s been 13 years now that my hubby and I have been married. We have a joint account for family expenses which includes children’s education, home stuff and family holidays. Each of us also holds our own accounts for personal spending. We like this arrangement because it is fair when it comes to family expenses, and tends to minimise arguments on who is giving more than the other. Of course, understanding each other is key. At the same time, it is important for me to have my own account, as it gives me a sense of freedom and security. I feel at ease and free of judgement with how I choose to use my own money.”

- Applelynn Teo, 40, assistant vice president