From The Straits Times    |

So you’ve married the love of your life and are living together in wedded bliss. But can you speak to your spouse about your money goals, habits and future? If a couple isn’t in financial tandem, disagreements are more than likely to arise. Building a strong financial foundation with your spouse is key to keeping your marriage healthy.

These are the most common marital conflicts about cash:

To merge or diverge finances
From the outset, the two of you have to sit down and thrash it out. Would you deposit your salaries into one joint account or individual accounts or both? Would you prefer to split household expenses equally between the two of you or in proportion to what you earn?
Yet while it is crucial to merge some of your finances, it is equally important to retain your own financial identities by having separate accounts. But because a lot of people enter marriage later in life, they bring into the relationship more years of financial independence. And that freedom is not something you should give up.
Who earns more money?
What happens when one partner brings in the dough and the other earns less or is a stay-at-home parent? Who then makes the money decisions? In every couple, one partner needs to acknowledge the other as an equal, no matter who’s contributing more to the household. A marriage is a partnership, not an employer-employee relationship.
When the main income provider recognises the other’s input, it leads to a more fulfilling marriage. Resentment will set in if one party’s contribution isn’t regarded as important. Relationships don’t survive when there is a disproportionate balance in power, not to mention the lack of respect that comes with it.
Where to set up your first home?
Your first home is a crucial step up in sharing a new life together. And before you start hunting for the perfect abode, consider if it is going to be in both your names. Whether you’re chipping in your share or have yet to do so, the house should still be jointly owned. Talk about it early on to find out what his stand is.
Once that’s out of the way, the challenge in owning a home is not in paying off the downpayment. It’s forking out the monthly mortgage payments because you need to have that money every month. It’s one thing to buy a home, but another altogether to be able to keep it.
What’s the cost of having children?
As a couple, both of you share common goals, including whether to have children or not. Having kids is expensive these days so you need to make sure you can feed, clothe and educate them. It’s worth noting that the cost of raising a child can be as high as buying a 5-room HDB flat. That means bringing up a kid from adolescence to adulthood can set you back anywhere between $260,000 and $420,000.
Short-term planning alone will include delivery and hospitalisation expenses, medical insurance and even putting him through nursery. And when your child’s old enough to go to school, what kind of education do you wish to put him through? After all, private institutions can cost up to four times more than government schools.