4 Serious Money Issues Singaporeans Should Be Discussing With Their Spouses

Joanne Poh



So you’ve finally been allocated your BTO flat and it’s time to ROM and hold the obligatory wedding banquet before riding off into the sunset on your white horse. But wait, before you surrender yourself to marital bliss, remember that getting hitched is a pretty serious affair and as a result, you’re going to have some pretty serious conversations that aren’t about where to spend your next family vacation or what colour to paint the bedroom. Here are four serious issues you must discuss with your spouse if you have one.


What happens if one of you dies or is incapacitated

If you mention death or disability at your wedding, be prepared to be met with choruses of “Choy!” or “Touch wood!” But after the excitement has died down, it’s important to have a sobering discussion about what would happen if one of you were to die prematurely or become unable to make financial decisions.

It’s never too early for estate planning, and you’ll want to consider, amongst other things, what should go to your spouse and what should go to other beneficiaries such as children or parents. In a similar vein, you’ll want to decide whether you’d like to give your spouse the power to make financial decision for you if something should happen to you and you can’t make them on your own. If so, drawing up a Lasting Power of Attorney is the way to go.


How to manage your shared money

Getting married usually means pooling your resources in some way, and most couples maintain a joint account for shared expenses. However, doing so without first setting out the rules or at least guidelines can lead to misunderstandings and angst later on.

Money and finances are a huge reason Singaporean couples quarrel, so if you want to preserve harmony in your love nest you’d better decide what can and can’t be done with your shared money, as well as who’s going to contribute how much. Things aren’t going to be pretty if you find out your spouse has been spending all your grocery money at Cold Storage’s liquor section.

On the other hand, managing your finances well together can also lead to greater savings. Having a combined credit card (and taking care of that well) can lead to you being able to accrue rewards like air miles, or hitting that minimum cashback threshold in a much faster way. Whatever the case, just make sure that you get the credit card that best suits your lifestyle needs.


How much to contribute towards big purchases

Getting married often spells the start of grown up life, in which you need to start making big purchases like property and cars, or adding to your kid’s university fund. Unless one of you is a billionaire, you’ll need to discuss how much each one is going to contribute towards each asset.

Fail to do so and one of you is going to end up resentful and the other, misunderstood. Also, it might sound a little pessimistic to even think of this, but in the event of a divorce things will be easier on you both of you are sure of how much each of you each contributed towards the purchase of your home.


Your financial end goals

Talking about your financial goals might sound like airy fairy philosophical nonsense to many pragmatic Singaporean couples, but doing so can help to reduce conflict once the butterflies in your tummy die down. In fact, fights over money usually arise because one party doesn’t understand the other’s financial goals.

If you discover to your horror that your spouse thinks of money as a way to live the high life and buy bling, while you’re more focused on saving for retirement, uh, too late you’re already married, but don’t worry, all is not lost. Try and come up with a shared goal, even if it means having to compromise your ideals. For instance, you might both agree that you’d like to retire on time, but without having to live like paupers while you’re young.

Have you ever discussed any of the above issues with your partner? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.