Money And Marriage: The Secrets We Keep
Has your mom ever told you that every woman needs a secret bank account? Some money stashed away to secure your independence or saved for a rainy day? Have you ever rounded off the price of a new dress to the nearest R100? Or sneaked your shopping bags into the house?
We do keep secrets; everyone does.
But a lot of the secrets we keep are because of the money messages we heard growing up. And it’s all so confusing.
As women, we are programmed to spend money on family, children, food, or any functional item the household needs. At the same time, as women, we like to shop – even if we are just shopping with our eyes. We spot the beauty in a delicately woven fabric, we marvel at the intricate design of a finely crafted shoe. And yes, every woman deserves spoiling herself every now and again!
The real question is – why do we feel compelled to keep our expenses a secret? And why do we allow ourselves to feel guilty for spending?
The intrigue gets deeper. Most women I meet in Life Planning meetings insist on having their own bank accounts. They feel uncomfortable disclosing their monthly expenses (I am one of them). I would be devastated if my husband ever saw my monthly statement! At the same time, most women hand over the family finances to their partners or Financial Planner – relinquishing complete control to someone else.
It is no wonder that we are always left feeling guilty and excluded from the financial well-being of our families. Whether it’s a stereotypical “finance is a man-thing” outlook or an old-fashioned belief, the reality is that looking after the family finances has mostly been the husbands’ responsibility. With the wives being blamed, or blaming themselves, for overspending and not contributing financially.
Instead of sharing the stereotypical top five tips or top 10 money issues, I am breaking all boundaries, and discussing only two:
1. Money discussions to have with your partner
Money discussions are courageous conversations to have. By initiating these conversations and opening up about your money beliefs, your money triggers and habits, you will start a whole new chapter in your relationship of shared responsibility and greater understanding. Discuss the role of money in your relationship – for some, money enables fun activities or luxury, and for others, money means saving and investing. Then, allocate a specific financial responsibility to each partner. For example, if your partner intrinsically believes that money should be looked after and saved, then allocate that role to your partner. Most importantly, plan your life goals and dreams together, work towards these goals as a couple, budget accordingly and stick to the plan.
In my experience, too many women are tasked with looking after the household expenses while their partners pay bonds and look after investments. Most women end up with no savings in their own names. If you have both agreed on the money roles allocated, it should be a fair process. As long as whoever is doing the saving and investments looks after portfolios in both partners’ names.
2. It’s ok to have a separate bank account
Having your own bank account has nothing to do with secrets: It’s allowing yourself, and your partner, to spend a portion of your budget on things that are important to you as individuals. This is where money enables choice – where you get to decide what to spend money on without having to hide it or feel guilty about it.
Separate bank accounts have added benefits. It adds to your credit worthiness and it’s a great way to actively participate and engage in the financial affairs of your family.
And now that there are no secrets left between us, I can, in all honesty, share with you one of my favourite quirky quotes: “I like my money right where I can see it – hanging in my closet” – from the television show Sex and the City.
Who Is The Writer?
Kim Potgieter is a Director and Head of Life Planning at Chartered Wealth Solutions. Her life’s work is to help people align money with meaning to enable positive and powerful transitions. Kim is passionate about meaningful conversations and understanding one’s psychology or relationship with wealth. She believes that our relationship with money manifests in the type of decisions we make, and the actions we take around money. Click here to visit Kim’s website.
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