One of your most important financial decisions is the partner you choose

Gugu Sidaki | 30 November 2023

Gugu Sidaki is an independent financial planner and co-founder of the financial planning and wealth management practice Wealth Creed. She holds the Certified Financial Planner accreditation and is an author and financial literacy enthusiast.

We know quite a bit about the effects of marrying the wrong person and its detrimental impact on your finances. Most divorce cases today are reported to be a result of the couple’s inability to have constructive conversations and manage their finances as a unit.

But what happens when you get it right?

The Rugby World Cup a few weeks ago sparked an interesting discussion on social media about the marital statuses of the South African rugby players and how this may have contributed to their success, on and off the pitch. Rugby players are some of the most financially successful sportsmen in the country. Interestingly, most of them are married with children and seemed to enjoy the support of their families throughout the entire tournament, leading many to believe this was a major contributor to their success.

Healthy relationships have many benefits, which include companionship, longevity, physical and mental wellbeing. Some researchers even argue that marriage has more benefits for men than for women!


Financial benefits

Of all these benefits, perhaps the most interesting one is the positive impact a solid relationship has on personal finances.

The most obvious financial benefit is the ability to share big costs, such as mortgages and the cost of raising children. At the same time, couples can aggregate their savings, putting them in a better position to accumulate wealth than their single counterparts.

Warren Buffet, one of the most successful investors of our time, has advocated marrying the right person on many occasions and has often attributed his financial success to a good marriage. His exact words:

“You want to associate with people who are the kind of person you’d like to be. You’ll move in that direction. And the most important person by far in that respect is your spouse. I can’t overemphasize how important that is.”


Supportive relationships

There are also countless research papers that support this assertion. Carnegie Mellon University psychologists interviewed 163 couples and published their findings in a study titled Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. They discovered that people with supportive partners were more likely to take on potentially rewarding challenges resulting in higher chances of success in life.

A lot of the work I do involves improving the financial outcomes of women and couples and I have observed the following in some of my engagements with them:

  • If couples work together on their personal finances, it results in them managing their money better as individuals and as a unit. Having an accountability partner in the form of a spouse or life partner leads to transparency in financial decisions, ultimately improving outcomes in the long run.
  • Couples who work with a skilled financial advisor communicate more and get to know each other better, particularly when it comes to financial habits, money history, goals and values.


You can do it alone too

While couples in good relationships clearly have many advantages when it comes to money, the studies quoted are a decade old and we should acknowledge the changes in society when it comes to traditional family setups.

In today’s modern world, many people find themselves happily navigating their lives being single - often by choice.

In my line of work, I have the privilege of working with a number of single and highly educated individuals who have, despite not having the advantages that come with being part of a couple, found ways to make a great success of their lives financially and otherwise. This proves that managing your money successfully alone is not impossible, especially if you get the right help.

What is evident, whether you go at it alone or with a partner, is that achieving financial success requires commitment, foresight and guidance from experts.