As much as our romantic side resents it, money does play a role in relationships. When there’s no money to do new things together or financial woes are causing stress, the end of the relationship tends to follow.
Here are some basic money strategies Singaporean couples can do to keep their relationship going.
Build a Pooled Dating Fund of S$200
A pooled dating fund is used by both of you for dinner dates, movies, parties, and so forth. Both sides contribute their half every month, to a maximum of S$200 (you can vary the figure, but don’t make the amount too big; disputes can erupt when things go wrong).
When there’s a common fund, both sides can better control their expenses. It’s also fair, as not only one side is paying all the time. This will mitigate any issues of resentment or guilt, if you feel you are bearing most of the cost (or costing your significant other too much).
You also get to keep the transaction records, as a reminder of the places you’ve been together (if you’re into that sort of thing).
Establish Gift Limits
Agree to a cost limit for gifts. You don’t have to rigidly follow these rules, and you’ll probably break them on certain occasions. However, as far as possible, agree to a common limit.
This is especially helpful when there’s wide income disparity in the relationship. No one wants to feel like a gold digger, no matter how generously you want to treat them. You also don’t want the financial side of a relationship to put pressure on either of you (e.g. when you are broke, but need to buy something for your other’s birthday).
Most of the time, a gift limit of S$60 should suffice – though you might temporarily raise it for special occasions like your anniversary.
Know Each Other’s Favourite Brands
We all have brands we prefer, whether it comes to food or shopping. Take some time to know your partner’s preferences. Identify which restaurants they like, or which brand of clothes they buy most often.
This will help you to zero in on appropriate promotions and offers. For example, you can subscribe to their favourite brand’s newsletter to score online-only deals. Or you could switch to a credit card that gives more points or cashback for certain brands. The American Express CapitaCard is a good example of this, as it gives you 3X STAR$ for every dollar you spend in stores at CapitaLand malls.
You can use SingSaver.com.sg’s free comparison tools to find the best credit cards for shopping.
Let One Person Do the Shopping
If your partner is more disciplined than you, consider letting him or her do the shopping.
For example, you could make a grocery list, and then trust your partner to be the one walking into the supermarket – this is useful if she’s inclined to stick to the list, whereas you would buy extras on impulse.
This also applies to online shopping – make the most sensible partner the designated buyer.
Get an Endowment Plan You Both Contribute To
Do you both have a big, romantic dream? Something like a wedding shoot in Paris, or a one month holiday in Europe? One of the best ways to do it together is to use an endowment plan.
You can both contribute to a short-term endowment plan, perhaps just up to five years. When the plan matures, you’ll get a big lump sum of cash, which you can both use for your dream vacation, wedding, or down payment for your flat.
And since you both contributed, there is a sense of having done it together.
Be Honest About the State of Your Finances
If one of you has a dependent to look after, or debts to settle, this should be discussed early. This will save the awkwardness of going on dates at times when you can’t afford it.
A lot of relationships end because there’s apparently no time to go out together, no holidays or anniversary celebrations, or birthdays. However, if you can explain that your financial situation doesn’t allow much, a sincere partner can prepare for it.
Whatever you do, don’t attempt to hide financial problems. It will cause friction and stress, as you’ll feel pressed into gifts and activities you may not be able to afford.
This story was originally published in Singsaver.com.sg, May 3, 2017.