Do you and your spouse see eye-to-eye when it comes to financial planning? Which gender makes better financial decisions in your house, men or women?
We all make important financial decisions from time to time, things like:
- Save for your marriage, buy your first home or simply pursue your dreams
- Start investing and building your wealth to combat the cost of living
- Speculate on some riskier opportunities for a quick gain.
But how do these financial decisions affect your spouse and your family?
Let me guess, maybe you and your spouse hardly talk about money matters at home. And if you do talk, you couldn’t agree with each other.
If that so, it is just normal. A recent survey shows that 87% of married Singaporeans disagree with their spouse, 50% or more of the time, when it comes to financial matters.
But it does not have to be the case if you and your spouse can understand the challenges and solutions behind these three important financial planning decisions.
#1 To Save or to Invest
Many Singaporeans may not be ready for retirements, but we are definitely good savers. In fact, Singaporeans have one of the highest saving rates in the world.
An average Singaporean saves 29% of his or her income. The savings rate for people who are between 25 to 45 years old is even higher at 37%.
So the question is, should we save our hard earned money in the bank or should we invest? The challenge here is that your spouse may be thinking very differently from you.
From the chart below, you can see that women tend to save more and men will rather invest.
In light of these findings, perhaps it would be helpful to first discuss with your spouse before making saving or investment decisions. You might think that it is a good idea to set up an investment portfolio for your new born’s education fund, but your spouse might prefer a savings plan with a guaranteed return.
So how do you decide if you should save or invest?
Many financial advisers tend to recommend the solutions “based on your risk appetite”, but that is very likely insufficient. Your risk profile is only a small consideration for financial planning because you may not be aware of your true risk tolerance level. Instead, your choice should also factor in your goals.
Let me give you some simple examples:
|Your Goal||Your financial situation and timescale||Save or invest?|
|Buy a new car||Your COE is expiring, you need to change car within a year.||Save|
|Put down a deposit on a house||You are getting married and you’d like to move into your own house by the time you start a family in three years.||Save|
|Plan to support your child’s university education||Your child is still in primary school||Invest|
|Your child is a couple of years away from going to university||Save|
|Have a comfortable retirement||You’ve just turned 30, and you’d like to retire when you’re about 65||Invest|
|You are 40 years old, but you want to have financial freedom in 10 years time||Save Big Time & Invest|
As you can see, your financial situation is of paramount importance to the decision whether you should save or invest. Financial planning is a process to
- Identify your immediate and long-term needs and goals
- Allocate your existing resources
- Manage the resources to reach your goals
Since a couple normally share most of the financial resources in the family, you have to discuss this openly, especially if both of you have different attitudes towards risks.
#2 To worry about markets or risks
If you were to invest, you inevitably have to be exposed to market risks. The study shows men and women have different worries which deter them from investing.
Traditionally, women tend to be more risk averse than men. This could still be true nowadays.
However, this gives women an edge in investing. Investors are always influenced by emotional bias towards market volatility. That is why I talked about why it is hard to implement a buy and hold strategy in a long term.
Being more immune to the market-going-to-collapse news and focusing more on the real risks involved, women are less likely to make excessive changes in their investment portfolios just to try to improve returns. This can help them
- Stay on course towards their initial goals
- Incur lower investment costs as fewer transactions are made
- Make less emotional charged investment decisions
Men, myself included, sometimes may feel that we know better about investment. But having a conversation with your spouse about the risks involved in the financial decisions you are about to make may give you a whole new perspective.
#3 To DIY or seek professional help for financial planning
At some stage, you may realize financial planning involves a lot of work. The more you read and study personal finance, the more you are overwhelmed and confused.
And the reason is simple, financial planning is a master degree and it is hard if you are a part-time student. For example, research shows that people who had a formal retirement planning done or used a professional financial adviser have much more financial success than those who didn’t.
You will benefit in the process of seeking professional help, even if you do not agree or take up the recommendation. It is a process called “precession”.
- You will have a better clarification of your own financial priorities and goals
- You will uncover your personal investing interest and preference.
And don’t forget to consult your wife. I have observed that women tend to ask more financial questions than men. It’s not because they don’t “get” it, they simply want to make sure that they understand the rationales of the recommendations and how it will help them pursue their goals.
Make better financial planning together with your spouse
What is the main reason that stops you from saving and investing? There may be 3 things in your minds:
- There is too much risk involved
- Investing is too complicated to understand
- You simply do not have time to manage your investment portfolio regularly
But what if as a couple, you collaborate over your financial decisions instead of splitting your financial pots; what if you save and invest simultaneously to growth your wealth; what if you leverage on professional help instead of facing the daunting experience by yourselves?
Let’s watch the video below first.
You see, when it comes to growing your wealth, both saving and investing are equally important. One solution is to simplify the way you grow your wealth by combining both savings and investment.
The concept is so unique that AIA has trademarked it as Savest™ and developed a new product AIA Wealth Pro Advantage around it
Savest™ is embodied in this savings plan which offers you both the stability and the potential growth.
- 50% of the premium goes into the savings portion, which gives you growth through annual declared bonuses that then become guaranteed.
- The other 50% goes to the investing portion that feeds into a selection of funds.
You can also leverage on AIA’s partnership with the world leading consultancy firm Mercer for an optimized portfolio.
This type of plan will be a good start for young couples. Here is an example how you can use it as a disciplined savings and investment plan for your children.
Savest™ helps make all your 3 financial planning decisions easier.
- To save or invest? – Do it at the same time
- To worry about markets or risks? – Have some of your returns guaranteed
- To DIY or seek professional help? – You can choose your own funds or leave it to Mercer
Not all couples are financial savvy and not everybody wants to invest all by themselves. So why not check out AIA’s plan and evaluate this new idea with your spouse?
As I said earlier about “precession”, maybe you can even borrow the idea and structure a DIY plan by yourself? If so, do share your findings below and let the other readers know.