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How to manage your money as a couple

By Faeza
09 December 2016

EXPERTS always warn that money is one of the leading factors that make most relationships fail. Therefore, what is the best way for couples to approach the issue

of money, before it becomes a problem?

OPEN COMMUNICATION

Ben Maditsi, a financial advisor at Moroka Financial Consultants in Pretoria, says the first step for couples to deal with money issues is that there needs to be transparency, open communication and honesty. “In my experience, the thing that causes a lot of problems in relationships, and even break-ups is when one party hides how much they earn and how much they spend. You find a person neglecting their responsibility within the household, but yet playing big to their relatives and friends, giving away money like Father Christmas. This obviously puts a lot of pressure on the one party, as they will have to cover up for the funds the other party squandered,” says Ben. That is why you need to sit down with your

partner, play open cards, and understand what are the funds coming in to the house through salaries, the business, stokvels, and so on. And also weigh this against the financial responsibilities facing the household, and how these will be jointly paid for.

WHO PAYS FOR WHAT?

With open communication, this part becomes easier. “When all income and expenses are in the open, it becomes easier to distribute them accordingly. Most importantly, individuals and couples must always live within their means. It is pointless to live a life that leaves you in debt,” says Ben. Is it necessary for the partner who earns more to

pay more? “It is difficult to make a recommendation here. Different strokes for different folks; especially when it comes to the kind of marriage institution. Different couples will approach this differently. When communication is open – this becomes easier. For

example, a couple might decide that one of them downgrades a job and salary so that they can find time Money can make or break a relationship that is why it is important to talk openly about it to empower themselves or go back to school, or start a business, for a few months or years; and when they are done with this, the empowered one can pick up the

baton and run with maintenance of the family.”

ESSENTIAL COSTS

What are the essential household items that couples should focus on? What’s important financially? There are many things we need in our homes in order to be comfortable and to function. But ask yourself, what is important financially? “The tough economic times are taking a toll on everyone. It is, therefore, important to spend wisely, and save money for the rainy days,” Ben says.

PERSONAL DEBT

One of the issues in the sharing of costs that couples face is personal debt. Sometimes one partner owes more than the other. Others struggle with the decision of whether to combine personal debt, or if each partner should handle their own. According to Ben, “It is not really necessary to combine debt if you are married in community of property – as the implication of debt and assets affect both parties similarly.”