KARACHI: Financial independence is the most liberating feeling in the world and getting out of the habit of handling your own cash is as tough as an addiction to get out of.
I realised this when last year I got married and headed to the ATM during the first post-marriage shopping spree and stopped short after seeing the balance appearing on the screen. These balances normally did not thwart me from continuing what I had to do because I knew the account would be replenished at the next salary cycle….But I was not working anymore!
In a culture like ours, most married women depend on their husband for all money-related provisions ranging from buying groceries to clothes, even weekly salon trips, though how they spend it depends on the level of financial free hand they have.
More than 73% of the couples argue over money matters. Wives hate having to ask for money, explain where they spent the money and why they need more.
Similarly, most husbands do not share the details of their account status, positive or negative, leading to simple statements like “Why do you need more?” and “What did you do with the last?” This becomes a ticking time bomb that triggers the volatility of emotions pertaining to money between married couples.
Women expect their husbands to provide for everything their heart desires. The man expects to raise their living standards as they move forward. They both expect to have a comfortable life spanning out ahead of them. This is the point where it is imperative for a couple to talk.
Discuss money matters keeping in mind that both you and your spouse have different spending habits, varying saving values and dissimilar requirements. It is undoubtedly difficult to voice your feelings about money but short- and long-term financial goals, investment strategies, spending and most of all expectations should be decided upon together, as team Mr & Mrs.
Strike a balance between spending & saving
Remember, “too much of something is bad enough. Too much of nothing is just as tough.” You don’t want to scrimp so much that your best years are left as those of scrooge, stacking gold coins but alone. But neither do you want to be so spontaneous that you won’t know how you would eat after retiring.
Respect each other’s values
Your wife may want to gift her best friend something memorable on her first baby or get the couch re-upholstered with a fresher fabric. Do not swat the idea away instantly and understand how much she loves decorating the home or her best friend.
Similarly, don’t make a face if your 30-something hubby one day comes home with a nitro remote-controlled car but go ahead and enjoy it with him.
Keep individual accounts but do open a joint one
Decide what the joint account is going to be for – household payments that the lady of the house manages, the money you put in for her to spend on herself or for both of you to save up for next year’s vacations?
A joint account will not only be a secure way of transferring and keeping money but will also at a glance provide records of money given or raised.
Open a savings or investment account instead of a current one and earn profits on the money sitting idle too.
Think of the house as a business
You manage it, call the shots and invest in it, so is it not like a business?
Plan together on how to cut costs by reducing wastages and aim to do more within a limited budget; like a weekend where both of you work on a DIY project together.
Motivate yourself and your spouse by putting the saved money separately in an investment account and once substantial, withdraw to celebrate a weekend trip out of country or by buying that 3D TV you have your heart set on.
The writer is a PR and investment expert at UBL Fund Managers.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2012.