Welcome to another week of financial learning. I want to look at financial issues relating to marriages. I say marriage to be a very complex union that differs from one family to another. The presence of money even makes it more complicated.
The husband and wife come into this union from varied backgrounds and appreciation of financial management.
I have explained financial management in marriage as partners working together and sharing responsibilities. Both the husband and wife need to take part in decision making i.e. budgeting, bills settlement to mention a few.
Research by Ramsey Solutions in America showed that money was the second leading cause of divorce after infidelity. Without a shadow of doubt in my mind, I can confidently say that money will be among the first three causes of divorce in Ghana along with infidelity and the breakdown in communication.
Money discussion of marriage cannot be over emphasized. It is very key because couples make money decisions daily. What to buy? Where to Invest? What to spend on? Etc.
We all agree that decisions in marriages are supposed to be “we”. However, that is not the case in most homes. Money discussions become “mine” and “yours”.
What we need to understand again is that there is a thin line between “I do” and “we’re done”. They all start little by little as disagreements and discontentment.
I will therefore try to discuss how we can if not uproot this problem at least reduce its impact.
The following pointers are things that new and old couples should discuss and apply if that is not the case already.
- Continue to operate personal accounts but one joint account: People have asked me on countless occasions if couples can operate joint accounts or not. My answer has always been the same. Yes, they can operate joint account but they should agree on a mandate that suit them based on their urges to spending. If one partner likes to spend more than the other, then the mandate should be both to sign. This will control cash movement. Now why do you need the joint account? You need this joint account to serve specific family goals that you set. Whiles your personal account may be for your salaries and other business inflows, the joint account will be a hub of your family savings. So, decide among yourselves how much each person is supposed to contribute to that account monthly and the specific goals set for that account.
There should not be any form of ambiguity about the purpose of this account. If you intend using the fund as child education support, we should use it for that purpose only.
All should be committed to this purpose and be opened. I have witnessed marriages go down because of joint bank accounts. If you operate junior accounts for your kids, I will advise the same principle and mandate for withdrawals.
- Set Family priorities together: Money discussions usually feel personal. However, that should not be the case in marriage. Decide as a family how and what your financial priorities are. What you intend to achieve financially within the year should be discussed and agreed upon by all before they take any step. The husband should not arrogate for himself all the powers with money discussions at home. The wife should not also take back stage and expect everything to work out as she wants. No one person is a master with money. Some of us that talk and teach financial management go through challenges with money. So, do not be too sure of yourself when you have money lurking in the shadows. Couples need to understand that financial management is teamwork and not individual show of wealth.
- Discuss money together regularly: This is a follow up to point 2. Regularly sit together as a family to review your financial performances within the year. At least, once a month is the standard. In that meeting, be frank to each other. Disclose income and expenses not accounted for in the last review. This does not make your life mechanical. It only makes you appreciate and alert to a very strong life phenomenon that can kill your marriage. With these acts, your children will also learn financial discipline. Children learn quickly by acts than words.
- Know each other’s money weaknesses: Marriage as said in the introduction is a union between two people coming from diverse economic and social backgrounds. This will impact how we all react to the situation. The man may have been trained to only buy things based on written budget whiles the wife buys based on impulse. Can they work together? Yes!
Everything is workable when people agree to disagree. We need to know the spending patterns of each other so we offer a helping hand. If you look on unconcern, your wife will go for a loan and later become an albatross around your neck. Your husband will sign up to the wrong investment, which can collapse the family financially.
Ask questions to know more. Be each other’s financial advisor primarily. Create that atmosphere where you seek each other’s approval before any financial engagement.
- Invest in family insurance policies: My readers will know by now that my view on investment and savings goes beyond fixed deposit, stocks and starting real business. A very key investment that I speak on is insurance policies. As a family, let insurance policies be your top priority. Whiles you build up your savings fund and investment, attach equal importance to the purchase of insurance policies towards your children’s’ education, accidents and death. Uncertainties are part of life thus; we need to see them as realities not possibilities. My car had two set of accidents in 2016. The first one was with a motor rider, and the second one was a mechanical fault that led to fire damage. The insurance company acted and restored whatever I lost. Imagine if I had no fall back in the form of insurance!
I attended the funeral of a late friend last month. He left behind his wife and eight-year-old daughter. As we wept and mourned, the question that was ringing in my mind was, if same happen to me, what will happen to my family? We need to plan for these things as a family.
The above pointers will not be exhaustive, but I believe they will help in reducing the divorce rate in Ghana because of monetary challenges. We shall meet next time for other discussions.
I wish everyone a wonderful and memorable week!
Patrick Baah Abankwa is a chartered banker with over 5 years’ experience in main stream banking having worked in various capacities. He is currently at the Branch Manager Position of his institution.
He has been a qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Ghana with a good membership standing since the year 2013.
He also holds EMBA and BA from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science, Technology, and the University of Ghana respectively.
Patrick is the originator of the daily epistle dubbed “Savings Tip of the Day” which has been running for over a year on WhatsApp and Facebook.
Patrick has also been teaching on the Topics Savings, Investment and Financial Independence for over 2 years and a research fellow for ILAPI Ghana. He runs a financial channel on Youtube by name “Patrick TV Gh” and has appeared a couple of times on the business segment of TV3 News 360.
Patrick is into youth facilitation and counselling. He can be contacted via email@example.com and or 0243984492.
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