In most families these days, it becomes necessary for both partners to work outside the home. Especially given the current market scenario and job uncertainty, an extra source of income is always welcome. However, having two earning members in the family comes with its own challenges.
Since each partner contributes to the family income, each wants a say in how the money is spent. With more women working, the traditional balance of power may shift in some families. Whatever the situation, you would have to come to a decision about how both incomes will be managed.
It is important for married partners to work together in maintaining the different financial aspects of their household. Successfully meshing two styles of handling money doesn't happen magically just because two people love each other. It is very common for couples to have trouble discussing certain money matters. Developing a healthy communication pattern about money is important for the equality and security of marriage.
There are many questions regarding managing money in marriage. How are the bills to be paid? Who is responsible for which expense? Should the spouse with the greater income have greater power to make money decisions? How much should each partner save?
Dividing the Money
Although there are only two basic types of accounts (single and joint), there are many ways to put them together. Three models have been developed that illustrate the different ways dual-income families combine their income. Which of the following models describes you?
1. Equal Contributor
Each person puts an equal amount of their salaries into joint checking and savings account for basic household expenses. The remainder can be saved as each sees fit.
Benefits: Each partner contributes to both daily and long term expenses. Also, each partner also has some money to call his/her own. For instance, if one likes giving gifts to friends and the spouse doesn't one still has one's money to spend as desired.
Possible Difficulties: If one spouse earns more than the other this can lead to resentment by the partner who earns lesser. For instance, if one partner earns Rs. 10,000/- and the other earns Rs. 50,000/- and both decide to put Rs. 5,000/- each into joint account, it leaves one partner with a whole lot more money (Rs. 40,000) more than the other.
2. Proportional Contributor
Each partner contributes a percentage of his/her income to cover household expenses and joint savings. The remainder can spent as each sees fit.
Benefits: Both partners are contributing to the expense and both also have some money to call his/her own. Whatever percentage of their income they decide to contribute, the person with larger income will contribute more and vice-versa.
Possible Difficulties: A difference in the amount of income each partner earns could cause resentment; the person with the higher income may have more "spare" money to spend for what he/she wants. For example, taking the previous example where one person earn Rs. 10,000 and the other earns Rs. 50,000 and both decide to spend 50% of their income, the one earning less would still be left with Rs. 20,000 less than the partner!
3. Fuser Couples
The couple combines or 'fuses' all their income for both household and personal expenses. Money is usually held in joint accounts.
Benefits: The work of each partner is valued equally, regardless of income.
Possible difficulties: The partner with the lesser income may not feel that he/she has much to say about how the money will be spent. Both partners may feel obligated to discuss all purchases with each other.
Financial advisors suggest that fuser couples keep an independent allowance (or pocket-money) of a set amount. This helps them hold on to the feeling that income is shared while allowing each to make some purchases, which are not accountable to the other.
While deciding on this, it is important to take into consideration other factors such as one's living arrangements. Managing accounts would perhaps be different if one is living with their parents/in-laws, or with their extended family or situations where the husband and/or the wife send some money to their parents back home.
Partners would be required to decide together and come to an agreement on how they would go about doing this in order to determine which accounting approach is best for them and their family. Remember, nothing is set in stone. If one way does not work, you can try another. Just make sure it works for both of you.