The BTO Ultimatum: Is Home Ownership a Dealbreaker for Singaporeans? [feat. Winifred Ling]

Are you and your partner thinking about taking the next big step and buying a home? Purchasing property is a huge commitment – but are you truly ready to take on this financial responsibility together?

Singaporean couples face unique economic factors that influence their relationships. On the Wise and Shine, our host, Dawn and guest Winifred (Wini) Ling, a renowned couples therapist, dive into these issues with insightful perspectives. Wini brings with her 20+ years of experience helping couples and children as a Couples Therapist and Relationship Coach. She sheds light on how Money Talk can play a role to make or break a couple’s relationship or marriage, she shares her framework for couples and also crucially when to bring up the money-conversation in the relationship.

Before joint owning a home, you need to have an open and honest conversation about money.
Do you think avoiding discussions about finances is a major red flag?

Right off the bat, we talk about how Built-To-Order (BTO) is really a dream of owning something but underlyingly, it also signals a sign of commitment. The process can create both excitement and heartbreak. However, many fall into the trap of rushing into commitments without clarity which can end badly when relationships sour.

So, how does BTO affect your expectations? 
Here are the top 5 signs your relationship may not withstand a BTO waiting period:

1. Lack of stability – Major conflicts unresolved
2. Separate lifestyles – Families/friends not integrated
3. Conflict avoidance – Can’t speak honest truths
4. People pleasing – Saying yes to avoid confrontation
5. Money reluctance – Difficulty discussing finances

Seeking counseling can help uncover deeper issues beforehand. As Dawn states, “Having the neutral third party facilitate is helpful” to avoid potential headaches down the road. Wini stresses how conversations about relationships and money are “really hard” yet necessary for couples considering BTOs or marriage.

Everybody has different experiences and perspectives when it comes to finance. Wini recommends exploring each other’s “money narratives” – how you both feel about wealth, spending habits, and so on. Sharing these stories is liberating and helps build understanding. Have either of you experienced financial trauma that still affects decisions today?

Purchasing a home means legally and financially intertwining your lives. Dawn stresses the need to decide how bills, savings, investments and more will be jointly managed or kept separate. Wini advises to clarify expectations up front to avoid future conflicts. Discussing past credit and debt is also prudent.

Joint financial goals are also something to discuss: Do you both want the same lifestyle in retirement? Agreeing on future spending, educating children and overall budget priorities lays the groundwork for aligned planning. Compromise respectfully on mismatches. The property purchase should strategize these shared objectives.

Wini and Dawn cite real cases where couples rushed into the BTO process without hashing out money matters. 
However, don’t worry, Wini drops her framework on how to discuss these challenging financial communication in the full interview.

These are the few guides we picked up from their discussion to start you off:
1. Share your money narratives – How each views/experiences money
2. Identify emotional baggage – Trauma influencing views
3. Build trust through transparency – Speak honestly with care
4. Discuss goals and dreams – Align how money supports them

We agree that establishing “safety to be yourself” and openly discuss finances early on provides a foundation for healthy commitment. Dawn emphasises also the importance of couples feeling comfortable being transparent about financial matters in order to build trust within the relationship. Facing money topics together with care, understanding and acceptance is vital for determining compatibility and long-term relationship readiness.

For BTO-hopefuls, talking money serves as a “red flag check” on unresolved foundations. Both our host and guest agree that these complex yet practical talks deserve priority over assumptions of Separate Finances Before Marriage.

You can check their full interview on Wise & Shine, episode 56 on Spotify, Youtube, or Apple podcast for the candid wisdom in navigating housing challenges with clarity, partnership and care for one another’s experiences in both relationships and finances. Facing hard conversations proactively helps determine relationship readiness and may minimize potential BTO regrets down the road.

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