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Talking money with your better half

Whatever the reason, it is not effective to have poor communication between spouses on household finances. Simple dialogue can help you communicate better.

Marriage is a union of two people in all aspects of life. This includes finances too. However, more often that not a discussion on family finances remains unaddressed among spouses. 

One may entrust the other to make independent decisions and prefer to not interfere or it may simply be a lack of desire to discuss numbers. Whatever the reason, it is not effective to have poor communication between spouses on household finances. 

Simple dialogue can help you communicate better. 

1. Share details of large expenses

The definition of what constitutes a large expense can keep changing, however, partners in a marriage will have a sense; things like jewellery and luxury watches will surely make the cut. Be honest about the big spends and make a conscious effort to inform your partner beforehand. 

An inability to do so can put other monthly pay outs like loan repayments or SIP instalments at peril. Also, hiding too many large spends leads to a sense of distrust among partners. Lastly, sharing information can help you understand each other’s preferences around spending habits and create a better understanding around important expenses that are yet to happen. 

This becomes critical when it comes to matters like spending on children and their higher education or buying assets. Your partner maybe more cautious in money matters and prefer a savings heavy approach, whereas, you may think it's okay to indulge once in a while. This difference in attitude towards money makes it imperative to share and communicate details of those big spends. 

You can choose to keep finances separate but at the same time have an overlapping family account where both partners contribute and invest from, towards the family’s common needs. This is important to build security and longevity to finances that are critical for the family’s future. 

2. Have the family kitty 

These days it's common for both partners to be working. What is less common is for them to know what the other earns. Moreover, many times the investment portfolios of the husband and wife are separate. While there is great benefit in being independent, what you have to figure out is whether as a family there is more merit in sharing some of that independence in a common kitty.

You can choose to keep finances separate but at the same time have an overlapping family account where both partners contribute and invest from, towards the family’s common needs. This is important to build security and longevity to finances that are critical for the family’s future. 

In unforeseen situations or when one of the spouses wants to take creative break, is when the shared account will come to the rescue. There can be matters of medical emergency, building a house or education expenses for children, which too can be met from this shared account.

3. Communicate the small details

You may not want to share your bank details with your partner, but have you ever thought of the operational difficulties in an emergency? Boundaries are good, however, communicating is better. If you are not comfortable with joint finances, at the very least you should find time regularly to update each other on individual investments, loans, and the status of the family funds. 

In the absence of such communication, there are likely to be frequent arguments about who pays for what, there is likely to be mistrust on where the money is being spent, and greed for not spending one’s own kitty versus spending the spouse’s kitty. 

Lack of communication might lead to an underutilisation of funds or in the worst-case scenario create a sense of acrimony and distrust. This is not just crucial for emergency like situations or untimely death of a spouse. The very foundation of marriage which rests on trust and sharing can get shaken if you don’t communicate with each other about financial matters. So communicate, inform, and trust.


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