The links below provide easy navigation to the different segments of this guide.
Avoiding Messy Breakups
When Lawunmi met Josh, she really believed she had met “the one”. She was quick to fall in love with him because he ticked most of what she had written on her list, but months down the line, things started to change. One of Lawunmi’s “deal breakers” was for her partner to be very financially stable and knowledgeable. She had dreams of saving and investing as a couple and that required a partner who was very driven and wise with money but Josh was more laid back about the subject.
Arguments after arguments occurred. Just 10 months after being together, they both agreed to end the relationship because they couldn’t meet in the middle when it came to managing their finances. Their story is not unusual. However, many people, instead of agreeing to part ways like Lawunmi and Josh, continue to patch things until things end in a very bad and messy breakup.
Are Belly Butterflies Enough?
According to Divorce.com, financial problems make the list of the top ten reasons marriages fail. These financial problems can be debts, budgets and spending habits, but they could also be a lack of communication about these issues. “Everyone has financial issues concerning bills, debts, spending and budgets. How a couple of deals with those issues can make or break a relationship.”
There’s so much about money people in love don’t talk enough about, the belly butterflies can be distracting. That’s why we’re sharing this guide with you. See it first as a personal finance guide and then a guide for saving and investing as a couple. This is because when you’re able to learn the basics of money, saving and multiplying it as a duo will become easy.
We’ve divided this into two parts. The first part is for those “in a serious relationship” or engaged couples while the second part is for married couples. There are, however, universal lessons in both parts of this guide. Even the “God when’s” will benefit from this.
One thing is sure though, by the time you’re done reading, you’ll want to share this with not just your partner, but your friends as well.
Money Management Basics
A relationship is only as good as the individuals in it. When the individuals in a relationship practice the best money habits on a day-to-day basis, it will result in little or no financial friction. We’ve put together these three basic steps to help you:
It begins with knowing exactly where you are right now and being truthful about it. Do a self-appraisal and ask questions like: How much have I made in the past six months? Where exactly did that money go? Did I budget and stick to the budget? What do I spend most of my money on? What are my best and worst money habits right now? How can I get better at the good and limit the bad habits? Where do I want to be in the next six months with my finances? What do I need to do to get there?
Notice how these questions have “I” in them. It’s because the first step if you want to do things right when saving and investing as a couple is by working on yourself.
2. Taking Control
The next “I” phase is to take control. Now that you know where you are, what are you going to do about it?
You can log into your Cowrywise account right now to have a feel of how you’re doing with your money, using badges. They are a simple way to know your money moves and the more badges you’ve unlocked, the more likely it is that your money game is strong.
Taking control also means taking specific actions. After answering the previous questions, it is time to walk the talk. For example, if you’ve found out that you spend most of your money on data or clothes, to limit it, you have to set boundaries. You can do a “No new dress” challenge for three months or cap your data spend at a specific amount per month.
It’s like setting money goals, just ensure that they’re SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.
You can only multiply what you measure. Now that we’ve covered measuring your current personal finance state, it is time to multiply.
3. Building Wealth
Whatever stage you’re at, you can begin to multiply money by building wealth. That’s why it is called “building”. It takes time but the more you put into it, the more it yields results. Part of taking control of the now is building for the future.
People often make building wealth more complicated than it really is. There’s a simple step you can start to follow from now.
- Make money
- Save immediately you get your income
- Budget the rest
- Stick to your budget
- Limit debts (except in cases where the Debt a.k.a Loan has the power to make you more money)
- For best results, live below your means
- Splurge when you need to – It is important to enjoy life (but this should be budgeted for as well)
- Become very knowledgeable about money
- Multiply or increase your income
- Start investing and building assets over liabilities
Now that we’ve covered the basics of personal finance, let’s break down some essentials for saving and investing as a couple in a committed relationship.
Part A – Saving and Investing as a Couple in a Committed Relationship
People in love usually hand over their “mumu button” to the other person and that’s understandable, but there should still be some kind of limit. This might sound like a boring tip but you can add your partner’s name to your monthly budget. That way, you have an idea of how much dates, gifts and surprises will cost. This actually doesn’t limit you but can set you up for more bliss and happiness in your relationship. You also can plan way ahead for special days and not have to go broke in order to cater to this special person.
Openness Before Saving and Investing as a Couple
Are both of you willing to have periodic discussions about money? This is crucial, especially if you intend to get married or start a family in the near future. Be open about income, daily money habits, guilty pleasures, debts, and wins – all of it!
Learn more on How to Discuss Money in Relationships. Money talks shouldn’t be awkward.
Money Awareness (Becoming knowledgeable)
Discussing money together is a step in the right direction. Beyond this though, it is important for both parties to become knowledgeable when it comes to finances. This is a lifelong process so having only one informed person in the relationship is not healthy. Instead, both parties should stay conversant and grow together.
Imagine your partner losing money to scams or Ponzi schemes because they “did not know”. Painful right?
As Damilola Hassan, the MD of Meristem Trustees Limited mentioned during a ‘Simplified by Cowrywise’ session, it is important to “invest in your total you. Be a financial investor but go beyond that to invest in relationships and your personal development.”
Both parties should invest in each other’s mental, emotional and physical well-being. A wholesome person has a better chance to manage money in the relationship, than someone battling with many struggles.
Be brutally honest about the short term and optimistic and confident about the long term – Reed Hastings
It is hard to think of any decision that does not involve money at all. So whether you and your partner know it, you’re already making daily decisions that can positively or negatively affect you both in the long term.
Now is the time to pause to take note of the things you want to discuss with your partner.
Are you both willing to get married? When? Will you have children? How many? Will you eat out often or make more home-cooked meals? Who will cover what in your home? Will expenses be split into two or will it be split into percentages that consider each person’s income? Will travel and vacation be a big part of your lives? Will there be constant date nights?
There are so many questions that we cannot exhaust but these can guide you on the long-term money discussions you should not overlook. Some of these questions might not look like money discussions but when you look closely, you’ll see that they are.
Similar to discussing long-term goals, also discuss deal breakers.
“Deal-breakers in relationships are the things that will cause you to call it quits — no matter how long you’ve been together. Some common deal-breakers include a partner’s stance on having children, a lack of responsibility with money, or a lack of ambition.”– Insider.com
Will you be okay if the other person decided not to work anymore? Can a partner decide that the other should not work? What happens if one person gets an opportunity that requires the other to move? Are you fine with long-distance? Will relatives be allowed to live in your house? Are you allowed to cater to the needs of external family members?
Of course, speaking about deal breakers beforehand does not guarantee that the other party will never change their mind. However, it does help to know where they stand right now.
Part B – Saving and Investing as a Married Couple
4 Married Millennials on Their Most Important Money Values as a Couple
We asked 4 married people their most important money values with their spouses. Even though they do not know each other, their answers are similar and everyone can learn from them.
Oyindamola – Married in 2020
- Honesty – You need to be truthful about your financial weakness so the other person can be your strength. Are you a person who can spend your last money on shoes? Or are you one who can’t stand to see someone in need without giving?
- Planning – What are our financial plans? Savings? Investments? How much do you want to set aside monthly for children (born or unborn) Are you planning on moving, or buying a new car? How soon? How much should we set aside monthly for that? How much goes into feeding? Transportation?
- Priorities – Quite similar to planning. What are the unnecessary things we spend money on? What are the necessary things we can channel those funds to right now?
- Rainy Days/Emergency Fund: For small repairs in the house that pop up that you don’t plan for. PHCN (NEPA) light spoils which equals more fuel expense, the generator breaks down and needs repair, the bulb goes off, all require money. Water finishes, money. A visitor stops by – you need to cook food you did not plan for – sudden sickness – hospital bills. Sometimes, those little expenses here and there turn out to be what takes the biggest chunk of your money.
Tolulope – Married in 2019
- Openness/ Vulnerability
- Delayed gratification
- Teachability/ A willingness to improve
Kwe – Married in 2018
- Shared vision
Tomiwa – Married in 2019
- Selflessness (willingness to sacrifice your personal preferences for the shared financial good)
- Clarity of direction/purpose
Did you notice the similarities? Especially how most of them stated Openness as their first point. That’s why we’re starting with this for married people who want to save and invest as a couple.
Openness with your Numbers
Transparency is vital when couples decide to do anything together. With money, it is even more crucial. Each person should come clean about their monthly income, businesses, assets and liabilities (e.g. debt – if one person is in the habit of incurring bad debt, it will affect their partner). Remember the previous lesson on self-Appraisal? Appraisal is impossible as a couple when one party is untruthful, dubious or secretive.
Managing Monthly Expenses
According to fundingcloudnine, there are a couple of ways to manage your finances as a couple and your decision should be based on what’s best for both parties.
- Combine all your finances
- Combine finances, but each partner gets fun money
- Keep your finances completely separate
- Split shared bills 50/50
- Split shared bills by a percentage of each person’s income
- Split responsibility for certain bills
- Get an allowance from one spouse/partner
- Live off one income
Who would have thought that there were so many options?
Each of these has its pros and cons and a mistake some couples make is that they “wing it”. This means that there’s no clarity on who mostly does what and this can result in frustration. One party may feel cheated or like they carry the heavy financial burden while the other person does the bearest minimum.
“Assumption is the lowest form of knowledge” – Anonymous. When in doubt, clarify.
Do Not Be “Penny Wise but Pound Foolish”
What’s good for the long term? Say you purchase a sofa that’s on sale and the price looks like a steal – but in less than a year, it starts to fall apart. That means it wasn’t really a steal nor was it a good investment.
This isn’t to say that things on sale go bad quickly, it’s only a reminder to purchase things that last in order to reduce the overall expense it will incur.
When people say “my ovaries” after seeing cute baby pictures, they forget that babies are not cheap. If you can, make some money decisions up to adulthood for your children. Decide on what kind of schools they’ll attend, if you’ll gift them their first car or apartment, etc.
Having children is a lot so you want to prepare as much as you can because you’re mostly in charge of their care for about two decades.
We have a detailed article that covers how to plan for retirement in Nigeria. But if you’re married, why plan alone?
As a couple, identify your retirement income goals and outline how to achieve them. Would you like to still be paid what you currently earn monthly, even though you’re retired? Then save and invest to make it happen. Planning for retirement without a savings and investment strategy is like filling a basket with water, the results are nonconsequential.
Write a Will
For many in this part of the world, writing a Will https://cowrywise.com/blog/writing-will-nigeria/ is like wishing yourself ill luck, but that is far from true. A will essentially cover details on who the executors of the will are, the people or person who will be the beneficiaries of your assets, and in cases where there are minors — who their guardian(s) will be.
This ensures that your spouse and loved ones are covered in the event that anything happens to you. See it as a precaution that eliminates any assumptions that third parties might have about you and your assets because you’ve set things straight under the law. In cases where traditions and other things may come up, ensure your loved ones are backed by the law.
How to Save and Invest as a Couple
Now that we’ve covered major topics that people in love often overlook. Let’s dive into how to save and invest as a couple. If you, however, skipped to this part, you should definitely swipe up to read all you’ve missed.
Start With Why
What are your short-term and long-term goals? Why are these goals important to both of you?
Why do you want to make money, save and invest? Why do you want to do that as a couple?
Understanding your why will help you stay on course. Do you want better opportunities than your parents had? Or perhaps you want to be able to give your kids the opportunities your parents could (not) afford to give you? Have you seen people retire into penury and promised that that could never be you? Take a moment to be alone with your partner to discuss your individual whys and strategize on how to merge both.
Set Financial Priorities Together
What is important right now and what can wait? Both of you should be clear about this so that one person doesn’t spend or allocate funds to something the other person deems unimportant. It is important to state here that there will be things that are important to one person but not important to the other. In this case, compromise and find a balance that keeps everyone happy. At the end of it, we’ll add YOLO (You only live once) to this because you don’t want to be so aggressive about financial goals that you never really get to enjoy life.
Set Savings Guidelines and Rules
Stuff like “for the next 10 years, we’ll both save 20% of our income” or “We’re saving to purchase a house in three years and until then, none of us can buy a new car”. Set strict but fun savings rules that both of you will be excited to keep – for long-term benefits.
Choose a Savings Plan that’s Also an Investment
We don’t hate banks but they’re not the best place to save.
The Money Duo savings plan is perfect for lovers who want to keep things private and save for long-term goals. Duo is also an investment because you earn returns on your savings. When deciding on your best options, choose only the ones that are also investments.
How to Invest as a couple
First Pay Off High-Interest Debt
Instead of leaving debts to accumulate interests that will cost you more in the long run, work first to pay off your debt. That way, you’ll be building a positive net worth.
Net worth is the value of the assets a person owns, minus the liabilities they owe.
Assets provide monetary value, while liabilities are responsibilities or obligations that reduce your resources. Net worth can be negative or positive, depending on if your liabilities outweigh assets and vice versa.
If you’ve read up till here, you’ll know that we advocate for splurging but within a budget. Your long-term savings are not to be splurged, they’re to be invested and wisely too!
Investment types are many and are usually categorized into high, medium and low risk. For best results, diversify your portfolio into these three categories. This is important because no two investors are the same, so whether you’re a conservative investor and your partner is a bigger risk-taker, both of you can still enjoy this process. However, both parties should still be aware of all investment moves being made and the reasons why.
Invest as Much as You Can, as Conservatively as You Can
This is a beginner’s couple’s guide and beginner investors might be tempted to just save, save and save (because they get some returns on savings) until they’re “ready” to invest. Becoming knowledgeable is important, but you know what’s even better? Putting your knowledge into practice. Now that you’ve both decided that this is what you want to do (remember your why?), start now and start with less risky options to learn the ropes.
Some Great Conservative Options on Cowrywise?
- United Capital Money Market Fund
- Afrinvest Plutus Fund
- Meristem Money Market Fund
- ARM Money Market Fund
Mutual funds are generally a safe investment option for the long term and you have over 15 options to pick from on Cowrywise.
Commit to the Long Term
Some of our fav quotes by Warren Buffet on thinking long term
“If you aren’t willing to own a stock for 10 years, don’t even think about owning it for 10 minutes.”
“No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”
“Buy a stock the way you would buy a house. Understand and like it such that you’d be content to own it in the absence of any market.”
Instead of diving right into how to save and invest as a duo, we first highlighted some important details that you need to take seriously. We covered three individual money habits that will eventually limit financial friction in your relationship. These money management basics are Self-Appraisal, Taking Control, and Building Wealth. Why begin with individual money habits? Because relationships are only as good as the individuals.
In Part A, the section for unmarried couples, we broke down some more money essentials like Expense Control, Openness, Money Awareness, Personal Development, Long-term money discussions and Deal Breakers.
In Part B, the section for the married folk, we began by asking 4 millennial couples their top money values, of which “Openness/Transparency” won the show. Coming clean and being transparent is vital when couples decide to build wealth together. If any party is sneaky, it will result in serious problems.
After these four money values, we highlighted some money essentials like openness with your numbers, managing monthly expenses, not being “penny wise but pound foolish”, children, retirement and writing a Will.
These formed the foundation for the detailed guide on how to save and invest as a couple. Without the points, you may be tempted to move with speed, which might not be backed by enough direction.
This must have helped put a lot of things in perspective for you, but remember the point about practice? Use your knowledge to gain more insights by taking action.
Ready to begin the journey of saving and investing with the love of your life? Sign up for Money Duo.