Things to consider before (and after) you tie the knot

Getting married should be one of the happiest occasions of your life, but there are some critical financial considerations that could turn your marital bliss into a money headache.

Keeping your financial independence when you’re in a relationship is important for your personal credit rating – and peace of mind should love turn sour. With the National Credit Act in place, couples should ideally maintain their own individual credit histories and bank accounts to minimise financial risk. Luckily there are a few things you can do to safeguard yourself – and your relationship – against any adverse repercussions.


Retain a portion of financial responsibility

This could include paying any accounts (such as telephone and electricity bills or rates), maintaining the household budget or paying your personal expenses. Sharing the responsibility makes you both accountable for your financial situation, and if you both understand your situation, you are more likely to have the same attitude towards money matters and decision-making.


Talk about your money matters

Discuss your individual finances and attitudes towards money before you start to make financial decisions together. By sharing your lives you are also sharing your financial lives. It will create a strain on your relationship if one of you is struggling and the other is splurging.

When you have a thorough understanding of your financial situation you can make informed decisions. For example, when choosing a suitable school for your children, with financial knowledge, you’ll know which schools you can afford and you’ll be able to arrive at a mutual decision.


Save something every month for yourself

Apart from a joint savings plan with your partner, it’s a good idea to have your own separate savings pool to which you contribute monthly. This is very important as it acts as a safety net and gives you a degree of financial security knowing it’s solely yours and can be used in times of need. Be sure not to spend it on household expenses or luxury purchases.


Retain your assets upon marriage

When getting married, draw up a contract that serves your best interests as well as those of your partner. These days most couples opt to get married out of community of property with the accrual system, which means each party retains complete ownership of the assets they brought into the marriage, and anything either spouse obtains during the marriage may have to be shared with the other partner should the marriage come to an end.

Speak to a lawyer to make sure you understand your options and then decide which is appropriate for you.


Save for retirement

Assuming you want to enjoy a happy, carefree retirement together and maintain your standard of living during retirement, it is essential for both of you to save sufficiently (at least 15% of your annual income) for your golden years.

Make time to discuss your retirement plans with each other to ensure that you’re both clear about your expectations. Sometimes couples overlook this very important aspect, which could lead to conflict down the line if one partner is ready to retire and the other is not.


Make sure both of you have a valid Will

Your Will is possibly the most important document you will sign. A Will is about more than just money; it is a document that ensures your last wishes are carried out. An updated Will is an essential part of your financial plan. Should something happen to you and you don’t have a Will in place there is no guarantee that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes. Nominate an executor with the necessary experience and specialist knowledge to draw up a Will and carry out your wishes upon your death.


Update beneficiaries

You may still have some financial products where you either did not list yourself as a beneficiary or listed someone else. This applies to policies or to your employer’s pension benefit. If you want your partner to be your beneficiary, make sure that you update this.

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