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Husbands who give their salaries to wives: Marriage made in financial heaven?

By Pham Nga   August 22, 2022 | 09:08 pm PT
Husbands who give their salaries to wives: Marriage made in financial heaven?
Vietnamese women among the top in the Asia-Pacific when it came to managing family finances. Illustration photo by Shutterstock
When Thu Huong messaged her husband asking for VND1 million ($42.73) to pay their child’s school fees, she was taken aback to see he had transferred VND10 million.

The 42-year-old in Hanoi’s Nam Tu Liem District had a reason to be surprised: her husband does not usually keep so much money from his salary, almost all of which he gives to her.

She did not question where Hung, her husband, got the money from but merely told him she would only withdraw VND1 million and put the rest in their bank account.

Hung says the couple made no agreement on "who should keep the money" when they married and he voluntarily gives his salary to his wife to manage.

"I believe my wife is better at managing and saving than I do.

"Sometimes I am surprised to hear from her the amount we have saved up in our bank account," the 43-year-old, who works in the construction industry, says.

Since his first month’s salary of VND3 million, and up to his current VND15-25 million, he only keeps around 20% for gasoline and breakfast.

He points out he can focus solely on his work since she takes care of all their family’s monthly bills and expenses. Huong also invests to generate an income for the family.

A poll done by VnExpress of over 1,000 people found 49% saying husbands should give their entire salary to their wives and only "ask" for money for personal expenses.

Experts say the poll result is consistent with Vietnamese financial culture though the trend of husband and wife also having separate accounts in addition to a joint one is growing.

Dr Nguyen Thi Minh, a lecturer at the National Academy of Public Administration with a Ph.D in psychology, says women manage finances better than men due to their analytical ability and not being as impulsive as men.

A 2013 survey by Mastercard of nearly 7,000 people in 16 emerging markets found Vietnamese women among the top in the Asia-Pacific when it came to managing family finances.

In South Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam, women manage the family money.

When it comes to spending on children's education, women make 59.8% of the decision in South Korea, 57% in Indonesia, and 53.2% in Vietnam.

Women make major household purchasing decisions in South Korea (53.2%), Indonesia (52.2%) and Vietnam (50.1%).

Nguyen Ngoc Le of Hanoi’s Cau Giay District receives his monthly salary in cash and simply gives the whole stack of money to his wife, Thuy Ha, along with the salary receipt.

The 35-year-old believes that when the family’s money is managed by one person, the spending and saving can be better controlled.

After pooling their salaries, Ha lists all the expenses for the month and then puts an appropriate amount of money in his wallet.

She puts more without waiting for him to ask every time he plans to hang out with friends, return to his hometown or visit relatives for various occasions.

After consulting with him, she is the one who chooses schools for their children, shops for things for home and decides where to invest.

Le believes Ha is making a sacrifice for the family by making financial decisions on his behalf.

"Because I lack money-management skills, I let her take on more work."

He becomes even more effusive when he says how friends half-jokingly claim his wife is "economically abusing" him.

"I should be thankful I have a thoughtful and capable wife, allowing me to have more free time. If this is considered being economically abused, I'm sure every man wants to be abused."

Minh says whether a wife keeping her husband’s money should be considered economic violence depends on two things: whether it is forced and how the man feels about it.

"It cannot be economic violence if the husband voluntarily gives it or even if the wife offers to keep his salary and he agrees and is completely comfortable with it."

HCMC-based psychologist Nguyen Thi Tam once said either spouse can manage a family’s finances as long as they know how to use the money properly and help the family's economy improve.

But for this the husband and wife should have an open and honest discussion about income and expenses as soon as they start their married life, she said.

When it is necessary to reduce spending for a common goal, it is necessary to reach an agreement so that neither person feels controlled, she pointed out.

Nhu Y and her husband. Photo courtesy of Nhu Y

Nhu Y (R) and her husband. Photo courtesy of Nhu Y

Nhu Y, 35, of HCMC believes that financial transparency and not controlling her partner are the keys to her family’s happiness. Since they moved in together three years ago, her husband has been giving her his salary on his own volition.

She says: "He only keeps a small amount for gas and breakfast. Even when he gets bonuses, he gives it all to me no matter the amount."

But she consults him on all expenses and tries not to overspend and to spend wisely so that their financial goals can be achieved.

If he needs to go out with friends or co-workers, she gives him money to do so.

"Men have their needs, and I have to understand that to conduct myself in a way that is comfortable for both of us. Thus, I keep the money but my husband does not feel dependent on me."

Associate Professor Emily Garbinsky of Cornell University in the U.S. and colleagues conducted a study this year that partially shows Nhu Y and her husband's financial management in reasonable light.

It says that financially united couples are less likely to divorce than financially independent ones.

An online survey by CreditCards.com also this year found around 43% of couples have joint assets.

Hung and Huong went from being virtually penniless when they first married to having an apartment in the heart of the capital, a car for commuting and a solid savings account 10 years later.

"I'm grateful to her for always taking care of my family," Hung says.

Le and his wife are nearing the end of their mortgage and unconcerned about their finances as their second child approaches.

Nhu Y and her husband bought their first piece of land after two years of marriage by themselves and without the assistance of either’s grandparents.

"Actually, I don't think it matters who keeps the money; what matters is that the husband and wife completely trust each other," she says.

 
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