Singaporeans, Must You Discuss Your Salary To Your Spouse?

Image Credits: (CC0 Public Domain)

If you were tasked to participate in a television game show to test your knowledge about your spouse, how well do you think you will do? Getting your spouse’s full name correctly is easy. But will you still get it correctly if you were asked about your spouse’s exact income?

According to a 2015 survey by Fidelity Mutual, 43% of the participants had no clue about each other’s earnings. The percentage of couples who were ignorant about their incomes have grown compared to the survey 3 years ago. Furthermore, 1 in 10 people was off by US$25,000 (S$33,700). This is no laughing matter.

You cannot blame these numbers on poor communication alone as the ever-changing economy may also be the malefactor. A shift in the workplace is seen as many employees become freelancers while others work on multiple jobs with unpredictable hours (much like Uber drivers). If your spouse belongs to the cluster of people whose income is relatively unpredictable, you still have to be informed.

Asking anyone how much they make is a taboo subject especially in our Asian culture but if you are planning to spend the rest of your lives with the person, you have the right to know. Your annual household income dictates how you are able to save and your quality of life in general. Knowing each others’ assets and liabilities can help plan your future well (including your plan for retirement).

To put that in perspective, you have to realize that our lives are filled with uncertainties. Emergency expenses, hospitalization fees due to chronic illness, loss of a spouse and unemployment can affect your finances. You have to be prepared. This is why it is vital that married couples communicate and cooperate in managing their finances no matter how much they earn.

As you begin to open up about this subject, it can be uncomfortable for some and fight-inducing for others. Given the extent to which our society judges the person based on how much they earn, this particular subject is susceptible to dangers. Dangers that the other person can feel insecure, frustrated or inferior. But as Richard Vondra, the first Vice-President of Spire Investment Management, once said: “You don’t have to be rich, but you do need to make sure you’re able to support each other.”

Beyond your fear of being judged, knowing your spouse’s income is one of the most basic elements of your finances.  Moreover, it may just be the key to your marital bliss! Studies have shown that the happiest couples talk about money and stay out of debt.

Image Credits: (CC0 Public Domain)

Image Credits: (CC0 Public Domain)

Ask yourself: “Will having this financial information change my life?” Then take action based on your answer.

Sources:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6

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