Liz Koh: New trend emerges in couples' finances

By Liz Koh

The changing roles of women in society have led to some interesting trends in how money is managed in relationships. Our mothers and grandmothers came from an era when married women mostly didn't work, but were given "housekeeping" money.

As women began to participate more in the workforce, they contributed their income to the running of the household. The soaring cost of houses and mortgages meant that two incomes became essential for a family. Incomes were paid into joint accounts from which household and personal expenses were paid.

More recently, a different trend is emerging. The transience of relationships, lower levels of home ownership, and the impact of relationship property legislation have seen an increase in the number of couples that manage their money separately. Incomes and savings go into separate accounts and household running costs are covered through a contribution from each partner to a joint account set up for that purpose.

In any relationship there is a balance between doing things as a couple and doing things individually.

There is no doubt that having common financial goals strengthens a relationship and makes it easier to plan ahead.

Being accountable to another person for spending and saving can help keep budgets on track. There are good reasons to keep money separate, however. Doubts about the future of the relationship, a partner's irresponsibility with money, and different money personalities are all good reasons to keep at least some of your money separate.

Control of money can be used as a way of gaining power in a relationship and this is another good reason for a degree of financial separation.

There is no right or wrong way for couples to manage their money. However, the way in which it is managed is something which should be discussed and agreed.

Liz Koh is an authorised financial adviser. The advice given here is general and doesn't constitute specific advice to any person. A free disclosure statement can be obtained by calling 0800 273 847.

- Hamilton News

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