Money is the num­ber one thing cou­ples ar­gue about, so it’s time to (wo)man up and have those tough con­ver­sa­tions – be­fore you tie the knot!

Fairlady Bride - - Contents - By Chelsea John­stone

Time to talk fi­nances – be­fore you tie the knot!

hen it comes to money, you need to make sure you and your part­ner are on the same page, and talk­ing to them about fi­nances can re­veal a lot about their pri­or­i­ties, be­liefs and val­ues. Here are four con­ver­sa­tions you need to have be­fore the big day:


Get the le­gal­i­ties out of the way be­fore say­ing ‘I do’. It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand the le­gal im­pli­ca­tions of the type of mat­ri­mo­nial agree­ment you are about to en­ter into, says at­tor­ney Ber­tus Preller. The three op­tions are:

In com­mu­nity of prop­erty

If you don’t sign any con­tracts be­fore get­ting mar­ried, you will au­to­mat­i­cally be mar­ried in com­mu­nity of prop­erty. This means that both your es­tates (what you own, as well as your debt) are joined to­gether and you co-own ev­ery­thing. This might seem fine at the start, par­tic­u­larly if nei­ther of you has much money at that stage, but it’s a bit like putting all your eggs in one bas­ket, says Kabelo Makeke, Head of Per­sonal Bank­ing at Stan­dard Bank. For ex­am­ple, if your spouse owns a busi­ness and falls into debt, your own credit record will be af­fected, and you won’t be able to act as a safety net for your fam­ily. ‘This is un­de­ni­ably the cheap­est and eas­i­est agree­ment, but the out­lines are not set by the cou­ple – so if your part­ner gets into debt, or if things end in di­vorce, you might re­gret not hav­ing signed an an­tenup­tial con­tract [ANC],’ says Ber­tus.

Out of com­mu­nity of prop­erty with­out ac­crual

‘Ac­crual’ refers to what­ever the cou­ple ac­cu­mu­lates dur­ing the mar­riage, so in the case of this ANC, each per­son main­tains the as­sets and debts they had be­fore they were mar­ried, as well as the as­sets and debts they each ac­quire dur­ing the mar­riage. They each have full and ex­clu­sive con­trol over their own prop­erty and there is no join­ing of their es­tates.

Out of com­mu­nity of prop­erty with ac­crual

This ANC is usu­ally seen as the fairest op­tion – it has all the ben­e­fits of shar­ing as­sets with­out mak­ing you li­able for each other’s debts. What was yours be­fore the mar­riage re­mains yours, and what you’ve earned dur­ing the mar­riage is shared.


• An an­tenup­tial con­tract (ANC) has to be ob­tained be­fore the wed­ding. Chang­ing your mar­riage agree­ment once you’re mar­ried is a very costly process that in­volves a trip to the High Court. • You can get an ANC from an at­tor­ney but it needs to be at­tested and signed by a no­tary, then reg­is­tered in the Deeds Of­fice. • If you’re mar­ry­ing a for­eigner, the law of your hus­band’s home coun­try ap­plies.


Have an hon­est dis­cus­sion about your spend­ing habits. Do you live from one pay cheque to the next, or are you a saver? Do you have debt? ‘You need to know how much your part­ner spends and what they spend it on,’ says fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor Deb­bie Netto-Jonker. ‘Some cou­ples find that one part­ner is reck­less in their spend­ing, while the other plays it safe with their money.’ It’s im­por­tant to know what you’re in for. Dis­cuss how your day-to-day spend­ing will work. How will you split ex­penses? Do you plan to open a shared ac­count? ‘If you do de­cide to opt for a joint bank ac­count, you should know that in South Africa there is no such thing as a “joint” ac­count,’ writes fi­nan­cial jour­nal­ist Maya Fisher-French. ‘There is only an op­tion for a main ac­count holder whose spouse has sign­ing rights. This means that if the main ac­count holder dies the ac­count is frozen, along with all the money to pay the bills. The Re­ceiver of Rev­enue’s new pow­ers, which al­low them to take money out of your ac­count with­out ask­ing, also mean that if the main ac­count holder has been a bit tardy with their tax re­turn, SARS can ef­fec­tively clean out the ac­count, in­clud­ing the spouse’s salary de­posit.’ It’s im­por­tant to main­tain your fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence, says Deb­bie. ‘Even though we don’t like to think of it, mar­riage can end in di­vorce or death, and you need to be able to sup­port your­self. Women in par­tic­u­lar need to en­sure that they don’t hand over all fi­nan­cial mat­ters to their hus­bands.’ Deb­bie’s ad­vice? ‘Bud­get, bud­get and bud­get some more!’ Track your spend­ing for at least a month to see where your money goes and then sit down to­gether and plan your ex­pen­di­ture. Also dis­cuss your fi­nan­cial goals and fu­ture plans. What are you sav­ing for, and how much can you put away each month? What will hap­pen if you have kids – will one of you stay at home for a while? What are your plans for re­tire­ment? There’s also a bit of ad­min to be done once you’re mar­ried: up­date your ben­e­fi­cia­ries and your will to in­clude your spouse, de­cide whose med­i­cal aid you’re go­ing to join, and re-eval­u­ate your in­sur­ance poli­cies. cou­ple and their fam­ily,’ says wed­ding plan­ner Ni­co­lette Mor­ris. ‘We’re see­ing more and more cou­ples pay for their own wed­dings – with their par­ents of­fer­ing to con­trib­ute to spe­cific costs.’ If you and your hus­band-to-be are foot­ing the bill, sit down and draw up a bud­get. ‘Cut­ting back on a few din­ners out is per­fectly fine, but if you are tak­ing out a loan to pay for your wed­ding, you’re def­i­nitely spend­ing too much!’ says Ni­co­lette.

Track your spend­ing for at least a month to see where your money goes and then sit down to­gether and plan your ex­pen­di­ture.


Tra­di­tion­ally, the bride’s par­ents foot the bill for the wed­ding, with the groom’s par­ents con­tribut­ing to one or two items like the bar tab and the groom and grooms­men’s out­fits. ‘How­ever, it all de­pends on the cir­cum­stances of the Ask­ing guests to give you money as a wed­ding gift is quickly be­com­ing the norm. ‘Times have changed and cou­ples are no longer set­ting up home af­ter their wed­ding,’ says wed­ding plan­ner Ni­cola Gib­berd. ‘Most have been liv­ing to­gether for some time.’ The key is to ask for money in a tact­ful way – Ni­cola sug­gests adding a sweet poem in your in­vi­ta­tion say­ing what you want to use the money for. There’s also been a shift in con­tem­po­rary cul­ture from be­ing rich in pos­ses­sions to be­ing rich in ex­pe­ri­ences, says Ni­cola. ‘Cou­ples pre­fer to put money to­wards an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence (like a hon­ey­moon) in­stead of get­ting fancy crock­ery or linen.’ Web­sites like www.hon­ey­ (one of Time mag­a­zine’s 50 best sites) al­low guests to make off­line or online pay­ments into a fund that the cou­ple has set up. It’s quick and easy – all you have to do is register, set up and share! Also check out lo­cal sites, such as Candy­stick (candy­ or The Hon­ey­moon Fund (the­honey­moon­ Some guests, how­ever, still pre­fer the tra­di­tional route. ‘Many peo­ple feel that giv­ing money is im­per­sonal,’ says Ni­cola. ‘I al­ways sug­gest that cou­ples cre­ate a small reg­istry so those who do not like to give money can pur­chase a gift.’ ✤


Hav­ing shared fi­nan­cial goals – and achiev­ing them to­gether – is great for your mar­riage!

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