Once you’ve got married, there are a few things you need to take care of on the admin side of things. Obviously changing your name is often one of them, as are dealing with any admin left over from the wedding or honeymoon. Financial steps are another very important part of the post-marriage admin.
Arguments about finances are one of the most common amongst couples, and often lead to a lot of stress and miscommunication To keep you from being at loggerheads you’ll want to organise your finances together and make sure that you’re both on the same page with regards to saving, spending, and other financial minefields.
Below are some financial steps and decisions that you should be taking after your marriage.
Know your debts
And not just yours, but your partner’s too. You want to know how much is owed on a house (if one or both of you own one), car and any other significant purchases. You also want to know their credit score. Having this information doesn’t mean you’re nosey, it just means that you are going into the marriage with your eyes wide open and you can plan ahead to pay off debts – or know whether you’ll be eligible for a loan to pay a bond or similar.
Draw up a realistic budget together
Gather up bills and statements for the last few months and figure out how much you spend on monthly expenses. We mean everything. Cellphone, car, bond repayments, groceries, medical aid, life insurance, car insurance, petrol, hobbies, social activities and any other expenses you can think of.
Calculate how much you can afford to spend on certain items and stick to it. Set an actual figure – e.g. R1000 a month for groceries, rather than ‘I’ll try to spend less’. If you examine things carefully you may be surprised at how much you spend on takeaway food, or drinks at the bar, or even your cellphone plan.
Find a place to keep receipts, and tally them up monthly to keep track of what you’re spending. If this isn’t your style, there are loads of apps you can use to track your monthly expenditure too.
Decide who will pay for what
Once you have a budget in place, decide who will be responsible for what. How you split this is up to you – some couples will split it evenly, some will base it on salary. You might decide that all bills and the bond are split 50/50, with one person making payments and the other person reimbursing them. Or one person might pay all bills, groceries and daily expenses while the other pays the bond. It doesn’t matter what you choose, but make sure both parties are happy and that the arrangement is clear. That way, you won’t fall behind on payments or accidentally overspend because of a miscommunication.
Consider long term investments
Somebody should take care of long term financial management, investment, and retirement plans. You can do this jointly as well, but make sure that as a couple you are putting enough aside to save for the future.
Decide whether to go it alone
We know you’re married now and want to be together forever. However, the two of you need to decide whether you want to combine your finances and assets or whether you want to keep them separate. Do you want a joint bank account for expenses? Separate ones? A joint one AND your own separate ones for hobbies and other expenses? All of these situations can work, you just need to choose whichever suits you best.
Update your beneficiaries
Now that you’re married, your spouse can be listed as a beneficiary on any life cover you have taken out. If anything were to happen to you, they would be covered from a financial perspective.
With all your finances sorted, we hope your married life is one of bliss and happiness!