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Of money and shoes

You know the advice that every mother gives to her soon-to-be-wed daughter… “You should always have a separate bank account from your husband. It’s for a rainy day, you’ll never know what may happen…”

Yesterday was one of those days when the topic of finances came up during a discussion with friends. Whenever it comes to finances, I have to admit, I am really lousy at managing it. When I started work years ago, I didn’t really think about budgeting or planning for my future. All that mattered was that money came in, I didn’t spend more than I earned, and that was fine.

When I got married, everything became even more complex. Put into the equation a man who says that my shopping and shoe purchasing habits are rather extensive, and you have a recipe for arguments. He believes in spending more on fewer pairs, but buying quality. I prefer quantity.

So… I worked hard to earn all that money, right! Having more shoes means more options for a girl! :) I don’t really consider myself a spender, in fact, I am super excited whenever I get a good bargain – I’d rather shop at the Chatuchak market in Bangkok any day than at any branded goods store selling LVs or Guess dresses.

But you see, when I said “I do” five years ago, I also said “I will” to opening a joint bank account with Alex. And part of that “I will” also meant “I promise” to be accountable to you regarding financial matters, and he the same towards me.

I don’t regret it. I remember a story someone told me before… this couple had separate accounts and as usual, they split the bills for everything… he paid for the daily expenses and she paid for the house. They were happily married, but soon, their marriage turned rocky. It was then that things got complicated when she said that the house was hers because she paid for it.

Frankly, I think money can either unite or divide. People quarrel over money matters all the time. So when Alex suggests rethinking my shopping habits, I need to stop myself and think, “Is it really worthwhile quarelling over this? If I go ahead and spend anyway, ignoring what he says, will it be damaging to our relationship?”

Think about it, even if you had your separate bank accounts and one partner bought something the other does not approve of, would that not be cause for conflict too?

I can imagine some of you saying, “But it’s only a pair of shoes!”

Ok, so we had an agreement. If we intend to purchase anything beyond RM200 in value, we’d consult each other.

I am happy with that arrangement. As for my mother (who did give me that same advice at the top)… I didn’t really have an answer for her then. But now that I am older, I wish I had told her, “I don’t want to go into any relationship thinking that a rainy day will come. I want to go into this marriage thinking that both of us will make it work, come what may. It’s a permanent covenant, not a contract. It’s not to be broken, it’s for life.”

* Alvin & Melissa’s pre-wedding session