Marriage and Money: How to Manage Family Responsibilities Equitably

Successful management of a family's finances is as much art as science. Before you and your partner tie the knot, why not agree on a plan for how you'll share expenses and responsibilities? To help you think about this important task, we've prepared the following brief questionnaire and guidelines.

Question No. 1: Will we register the marriage? Will we declare joint ownership of property? 


A. No, we don’t register.

B. Yes, we register and jointly own property.

C.. Yes, we register the marriage but do not share ownership of property.


Question No. 2: How different are our total annual incomes? 


A. Mine is three times higher than yours or more.

B. Mine is about three times lower than yours.

C..Ours incomes are almost equal, and not more than three times different.


Question No. 3: If we buy a new house or condo together, how will we share the cost (deposit, fees, mortgage payments, etc.)?  


A. I will pay for it entirely by myself. 

B. My spouse will pay for it entirely. 

C. We will each pay half. 

Question No. 4: How will we share the cost of raising a child?


A. We plan to have a one child or more, and I will bear most of the costs. 

B. We do not plan to have children. If we do, my spouse will bear the costs.

C. We plan to have one child or more, and we will each share 50% of the costs. 


Question No. 5: Who is better at housekeeping and childcare, me or my spouse?

A. My spouse.

B. Me

C. Neither of us is good at these tasks. Or, both of us are good at these tasks.

Now please count up your answers to see which of our guidelines might work best for you and your partner.

First, see which answer is chosen the most: A, B or C.

  • If A, see Guideline No. 4 below.
  • If B, try Guidelines No. 2 and No. 3.
  • If C, see Guideline No. 1.
  • If your answers are mixed, but A and C are prevalent, try Guidelines No. 1 and No. 4.

Guideline No. 1: Half Money – Half Duty means that you and your spouse each contribute equally to family expenses and work. 

This is suitable when:

  • Both spouses have similar incomes
  • Both spouses have similar abilities
  • Both spouses are equally able to devote time to the family

Manage family finances by: 

  • Deciding on a monthly budget
  • Putting money into a pool on a 50:50 basis, each contributing the same fixed amount every month. (Or taking turns to contribute the full amount every other month.)
  • Using the pool to cover the cost of food, childcare, family savings, travel and living expenses, but excluding entertainment 
  • Allocating a savings pool for the education of your children. Keep this in a fixed deposit account or long-term deposit program that allows you to deposit money every month at a higher rate of interest than paid on a normal savings account.

Guideline No. 2: Less Money, More Duty means that you contribute less money, but more work.

This is suitable if:

  • You are the spouse whose income is lower
  • You are the spouse who can devote more time to the family
  • You are the spouse who is good at housekeeping

Manage family finances by:

  • Putting less money into the common pool at a ratio of 40:60 (or 20:80 if agreed)
  • Saving more money, since less needs to be used to pay for childcare 

Guideline No. 3: No Money, Only Duties means that you will contribute your work to the family, but won't pay for any expenses. 

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This is suitable if you are:

  • A spouse who loves housework
  • A spouse who has a lot of time available or who works at home

Manage family finances by:

  • Earning extra income from easy part-time jobs or work at home 
  • Saving your own personal funds in case of divorce 

Guideline No. 4: Pay Everything, Do Nothing means that you will cover all of the family's expenses but spend little time taking care of household work, family tasks and childcare.

This is suitable if you are:

  • The higher-income spouse
  • A busy spouse who is less able to devote time to the family

Manage family finances by:

  • Saving more money, probably by investing in mutual funds so that your money can work for the family. Make monthly investments in a fixed income fund or equity fund.

You can start by asking your partner to read these tips, think about them and discuss them with you. Plan together and you'll both be rewarded. A husband and wife who are partners in thinking can help each other tremendously. With thoughtfulness and flexibility, together you can build an optimal life for your new family.