MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
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!
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:
1 DISCUSS AN ANC
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.
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
• 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.
2 SPENDING HABITS
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.
3 WEDDING BUDGET
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.honeyfund.com (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 (candystick.co.za) or The Honeymoon Fund (thehoneymoonfund.co.za). 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.’ ✤
4 THE GIFT OF MONEY
Having shared financial goals – and achieving them together – is great for your marriage!