What you need to know:
The fusion of two lives often brings unique challenges, and managing finances as a couple stands as a cornerstone in building a strong foundation.Couples can attain financial harmony by developing open communication, mutual understanding, and shared planning.
Whereas couples often invest time in discussing love, religion, extended family, and career within the realm of marriage, it is crucial to recognise that financial matters play a pivotal role in the progression of marriages. Hence, giving due significance to discussions about finances is essential.
Why finances matter
Managing finances as a couple is a dynamic journey that requires adaptability, communication, and shared goals. Through discussing finances, couples can foster financial harmony and build a future that is not only financially secure but also emotionally fulfilling.
Money, a pervasive part of our lives, often becomes a silent arbiter in relationships. The stability of a couple’s financial situation can significantly impact their overall well-being.
Robert Bwiranda, a life coach says understanding the importance of finances in a relationship is the first step towards building a secure future together.
“This understanding sets the stage for open communication and collaborative decision-making,” says Bwiranda.
Johnson Kaahwa and Jilda Beebwa attribute the success of their 15-year marriage to a joint approach to finances. Kaahwa says, “We set financial goals together and track our progress regularly. It is not just about money; it is about shared dreams and aspirations.”
Sarah Tushabe and Michael Kukiriza, have been married for ten years. They faced financial hardships early in their marriage.
Tushabe recounts, “We learnt the hard way that communication is key. We now have monthly budget meetings where we discuss our financial goals and address any concerns.”
Bwiranda emphasises the need for transparency, “Couples should be honest about their financial habits, discuss their individual financial goals, and create a joint plan that aligns with their shared aspirations.”
Dealing with debt
While seeking financial assistance can provide relief during challenging times for a couple, Faith Sibo, a counselor, stresses the crucial need for open discussions on managing debts as a couple.
“Debt can be a strain on any relationship. Open communication, a realistic repayment plan, and seeking professional advice when needed can help couples overcome this challenge,” Sibo advises.
Planning for the future
Sibo highlights the importance of planning for the future, by creating a comprehensive plan ensuring that both partners are protected in the event of unforeseen circumstances. This includes writing wills, securing life, health insurance and asset management.
For some couples, merging finances is a natural step. Others prefer maintaining separate accounts. The key is finding a system that works for both partners and aligns with their values and goals.
Bwiranda says, “Couples should establish an emergency fund to provide a safety net in case of financial setbacks. This reduces stress and preserves the relationship.”
After successfully establishing a startup, it is important to align business and personal finances. Tushabe shares, “Our business is a significant part of our lives, so we ensure our personal and professional financial goals complement each other.”
The compromise champions
For the decade they have been together, the Kukirizas have learnt to compromise. “We have different spending habits, but we found a middle ground. Tushabe gets her occasional splurges, and I get to save for our future. It is all about balance,” he says.
When they met unexpected financial challenges, from job loss to medical expenses, the couple faced the challenges together.
“It is tough, but facing those challenges together made us stronger. We had to redefine our priorities and lean on each other for support,” Tushabe says.
Financial independence in marriage
Maintaining financial independence within marriage is crucial. Kaahwa says, they have joint accounts for shared expenses, but having separate accounts on the other hand allows them to maintain a sense of autonomy which works for them.
They have also prioritised giving their children financial literacy.
Beebwa states, “We involve our children in budgeting discussions and financial decisions. It not only teaches them responsibility but also strengthens our family bond.”
Sibo advises couples to have a robust retirement plan. “Start planning for retirement early. Setting realistic goals, regularly reviewing your investments, and making adjustments as needed,” he says.
How to work it out
Each couple’s journey is unique, shaped by their values, experiences, and communication styles. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing finances in relationships but work it out as a couple can save you from stress.
It is important to support one another and adopt a mindset of being teammates rather than adversaries while facing the storm that might have brought your financial challenge.
According to couples-experience.com, just because you earn more does not mean you should have more control or say in financial matters. Remember that in your marriage, you both have an equal say in your finances. Embrace the teamwork mentality and work together to make decisions that benefit both of you.
Remember to frequently and calmly share financial information such as income, career aspirations, debts (if any), and expenses, you can work together to plan for savings, investments, and emergency funds and manage your lifestyle during financial challenges.
“If financial problems persist, seeking the guidance of a financial counsellor can be transformative. Professional advice can provide clarity, offer solutions, and strengthen the financial health of the relationship,” Sibo says.
During a financial crisis, such as job loss, income reduction, or unexpected expenses can spur emotions.
Listening and providing support is essential, letting your partner know they are not alone. Understand your partner’s needs and preferences, whether they require solitude or company, to foster a strong relationship regardless of the circumstances.
Block out external influences
Establish boundaries with friends who constantly pressure you to participate in extravagant and costly outings, boast about their latest extravagant purchases and feel entitled to comment on your finances.
“Be cautious because external influences can sway your habits and decisions, potentially impacting your relationship during financial challenges. Avoid comparing your relationship or financial status to others; ultimately, prioritise what brings you happiness and is feasible for your relationship,” couples-experience.com states.
Regularly review financial progress
Frequent budget reviews are one of the most underrated financial tips for couples you can find. This is how married couples manage finances; by preparing for roadblocks ahead.
Schedule regular financial check-ins to assess your progress towards your goals, make adjustments if necessary, and celebrate milestones achieved together. This practice helps you stay motivated and connected to your financial journey.
Joint or separate accounts
Decide whether merging all finances or maintaining separate accounts works best for your relationship. Some couples prefer joint accounts for shared expenses, while others find separate accounts provide individual financial autonomy. If you have a debt, work together to create a plan for paying it off. Start with high-interest debts and allocate extra funds towards reducing debt burdens.