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Illustration by Lee McGorie / The National
Illustration by Lee McGorie / The National

Couples must learn to work as a team on money matters

Superwomen: "Prince Charming does exist," declared Lucy, as she swung her handbag on the back of the chair. Abby looked up, unbelievingly. "Really?" she said, clearly sceptically. The girls were meeting for an early Friday breakfast.

"Prince Charming does exist," declared Lucy, as she swung her handbag onto the back of the chair. Abby looked up, unbelievingly.

"Really," she asked, clearly sceptical. The girls were meeting for an early Friday breakfast. The temperature was slowly climbing; summer was just around the corner, and Lucy was on cloud nine because her good friend and personal assistant, Jennifer, was getting married - for the second time. Lucy raised one eyebrow and looked directly at Abby. "See, some people do find the courage to love again, even after a broken heart."

"Well, I hope she is smarter this time," Abby said, gruffly. "Her last husband left her without a dime and she moved here to remake hay while the sun shines. But this time she can't afford to lose it all."

Wealth diva SMS

A lot of people see Dubai as a new beginning after a messy break-up and often end up meeting a new love from another country. Regardless of your nationality or that of your partner, you have to consider your financial plan together carefully. If he's the real deal, he won't mind having a conversation about marriage and money.

Plan together, stay together

"The truth is that, today, many women don't want to talk about money before they get married and many others still don't understand their household's finances when they are married," Abby said.

"I know, I know - money and marriage must be discussed," nodded Lucy, "so what advice should I give Jennifer?"

"Well, there are certain things she must consider," Abby said.

Teamwork

The girls' meals arrived and they all began to eat. "I'll talk to her and make sure she's smarter this time," said Lucy, grateful for Abby's advice.

"So, Sasha, how do you do it?" she asked, turning to her friend. "It seems like you've only just met Frank - whom I adore by the way - yet you've gone from big wage-earner to stay-at-home mum in the blink of an eye. How does that make you feel?"

Sasha laughed and put down her knife and fork. "Motherhood is so much harder than full-time work and it pays a lot less," she said. "But honestly, there's nothing more rewarding.

"And Frank has been really supportive. We've started keeping budgets and we've refocused our mindset to live within our means."

"That's what I call good teamwork," said Lucy. "Let's hope Jennifer's Prince Charming is also a team player."

The four points

Many couples need to identify where they sit in relation to their money matters. To achieve true equality in a partnership, both individuals must have knowledge of, and involvement in, their partner's assets and debts. If you're not actively participating in the financial side of your marriage, follow these tips to get you on the right track.

Talk money

If your partner has always handled financial matters, it may seem difficult to suggest that you become more involved. The first step is to initiate a conversation with your spouse about your desire to learn more about your household's assets and debts and to be more actively involved in making decisions. Choose a time and place without high levels of stress or too many distractions to have this discussion.

Bring it up in a positive way, rather than in a tone that might sound complaining or accusing.

Keep up to date

It's never enjoyable to think about a bad occurrence involving the people you love. Yet you must be responsible and realise that if your partner was no longer able to hold the position of the primary moneymaker, the task would fall to you. Make sure you're familiar with and have access to all financial records and documentation. Know how to access everything quickly, from account numbers to mortgage documents to investment information.

Get involved

Look for ways to become more integrated in your marriage's finances.

Whether it's creating and maintaining the filing system for your financial paperwork or paying the bills, sharing responsibility can be rewarding and make your partnership more balanced and fulfilling.

Stay independent

There can't be a strong "we" without a strong "me". While marriage is a partnership, you should still maintain your own financial standing. We recommend that each partner has a checking account and credit cards in his or her own name so that both can build good credit and avoid any major challenges to access money with local laws.

 

Janelle Malone is a writer, blogger and commentator on personal finance. You can contact her at www.womenmoneyandstyle.com

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