By Susan K. Muyiyi
Getting married is exciting and yet, there are many unclear things awaiting in the new step of life. “One of the first issues newlyweds face is how to handle their finances,” writes Ms Ruth Hayden in her book For Richer, Not Poorer: The Money Book for Couples. Questions like whether you should merge everything you earn also arise. Will you keep a secret account, and under-declare what you earn?
The need for money never ceases. It even seems to increase when you get married. On top of payment of the usual bills, when the children arrive, expenses are bound to shoot up. For starters, you will need a house help who may also help with babysitting. That means paying wages. Within a few years, you will be required to start paying school fees for more than one child, buy food, pay house rent and clear many other expenses. That is why you will need a smart money plan. This kind of plan is something that will enable you to live comfortably by, for example, ‘ensuring that your children never lack school fees and that you don’t run out of basics.
A good money plan includes having enough to live off, that is, be able to pay your bills, buy necessities, save for emergencies, your children’s education and investment. Also important is to plan for your old age; you don’t want to be a financial burden to your children in old age.
Mr James Abola, a business and financial consultant, advises that when it comes to investments, thinking medium to long term is necessary. Short term financial needs tend to take priority over long term necessities like planning for retirement. However, with vigorous planning, you can be able to meet your targets. Short term financial plans may include building a house to live in and long term, starting up a business like real estate which requires substantial capital.
How you spend your money has to change. Mr Abola says that you can’t spend 80 percent of your income. “At least put away 10 percent as tithe and another 10 percent on a savings account which can be invested to meet your long term needs,” he advises. Leverage your strengths including earning strength, savings and investments, ability and networks. This is assuming you practice transparency and discuss major decisions with your significant other before taking action. You ought to sit down and discuss how much you can save and what your partner may be good at when it comes to business.
Know that your financial responsibilities will increase with time and it may be a lot harder to save and invest in future than it is now. The ideal scenario is to adequately plan before you start having children. You may, for instance, have to build a family house first before starting a family so that you never have to worry about rent again. Getting a mortgage these days isn’t as difficult as it was 10 years ago. Banks like DFCU, Standard Chartered, Stanbic, Housing Finance, Bank of Africa and Orient offer mortgage services.
Ideally, you should share the same attitudes toward money. You should attach equal importance to creating a family budget; know what your annual income is. What happens when one of you has an outstanding debt? Ms Hayden says that the wrong approach to this problem is, “Your debt will ruin us; you must find a way to clear it.,,
The right approach, she writes, is: “It’s our debt: let’s decide how to pay it off together.”
Know the difference between a good and bad debt. You can borrow money under favourable conditions and pay it back without worrying about your property being repossessed. On the other hand, borrowing for consumption isn’t wise. Borrow to invest. That is wiser.
Contention in any marriage is bound to occur over money issues. Money and love don’t seem to mix well. Relationship experts say that money issues rank highest in causing conflict in relationships.
Ms Hayden argues in her book that an attitude such as, “I’m a saver and you are a spender. That is the problem,” can be a hindrance when trying to strike a balance on how to handle money. The right approach, she writes, would be, “We both spend but on different things. Let’s budget.”
Studies show that men and women spend the same, they just spend differently. The importance of money in your marriage can’t be overstated.