Advice Column, Hero Life, Money, Parenting

4 Mistakes couples make about money

The reality is that finances, if not properly managed and understood by each partner, can be a major source of tension in any relationship, and financial stress is one of the leading causes of relationship breakdowns.

Have you been postponing the money talk? Feel a bit uncomfortable talking it? It’s probably better to rather talk about it earlier. You don’t have to open a joint bank account if you’re not ready, but you do need to learn how to manage money jointly once you start sharing expenses. When kids join the picture, this quickly becomes very important. Sometimes it’s easier to learn from other people’s mistakes, so take a look at these common errors made by couples over money.

1. Skipping the Household Budget

When you’re busy and have 1000 things to do, it is easy to just skip the money conversation. Being busy with work, home projects and the kids it is easy to become distracted and can lead to some dismal days at the end of the month, like, say, running out of money for rent.

There are a lot of ways to do it, from splitting every expense down the middle to dividing up the bills by expense (I’ll take the utilities; you take the groceries) or proportionally (I make more, so I’ll pay 70% of the bills and you pay 30%). The method you choose isn’t as important as the act of sharing responsibilities and deciding who’s in charge of what.

If you haven’t had the conversation yet, don’t worry rather late than never.

2. Not Communicating About Your Cash

Ever notice how the biggest fights often start because you push off actually talking about an issue and then it just explodes? Money works like that, too. If you’re swimming along without regularly checking in about money, you’re likely in for an unpleasant surprise eventually. No – that 30-second conversation, in which you observed that “it seems like we’re doing fine” – does not count as checking in.

If you don’t think spending R1500 on gadgets in one month is reasonable but your partner does, you’d better raise that as soon as possible. And if you share a bank account, you both should normally know about how much is in there to avoid getting into trouble with an overdraft. We suggest touching base at least once a month, but ideally, once a week. If you’re talking money often, the discussions can be quick and less painful overall.

3. Not Having a Common Goal

Couples that save together stay together. You’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment as a couple if you both contribute to a common cause, whether it’s a weekend getaway, a new car, or a down payment on a house. You don’t necessarily have to contribute equally if one of you is a stockbroker and the other a barista, but make sure the contributions feel fair.

It is important that both feel responsible for achieving the goals you both agreed on otherwise, it can quickly feel like the one person only spends money and the other needs to worry where it comes from.

Having a savings goal also ramps up the pressure to save faster – and that’s all for the good. 

4. Modelling your relationship after your parents’ relationship

We are different people in a different time. You need to figure out what works for you. It is easy to think that their only exists two options to earn money in a relationship. The first option is that one partner takes the lead role and earns money, while the other partner raises the kids. If that’s not an option then traditionally both want or need to work and kids don’t really fit into that lifestyle. There are two other options.

Either you could alternate between taking the lead and raising the kids or you and your partner could work together. The alternating option gives both parents the chance to have a huge impact on their kids’ childhood and have a career. The complementary option does, however, require the partners to have complementary skills. Think a designer and a web developer. Or an architect and a quantity surveyor. The point is that there are other options and it takes some thinking a purposeful design to get to a lifestyle that will work for both parents.

The earlier you and your partner can form a shared understanding of, and commitment to, your future goals and objectives, the better off you’ll both be.

Hero Life is a company that offers a free online Will, helps you to start saving for your kids’ education, and offers life insurance, designed specifically for young parents. Hero Life is an MMI Group initiative, and underwritten by Guardrisk Life Limited (Reg no 1999/013922/06), an authorised Financial Services Provider (FSP license number 76).

Visit herolife.co.za for more info or WhatsApp us at +27 73 916 9367 to learn more.

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