Money management steps before and after marriage

Published: February 22, 2022 at 6:00 am

Last Updated on February 22, 2022 at 10:10 am

Marriage is just a union of two souls. Isn’t it? Why bring money into the picture and spoil the sanctity of the union? Right? While these thoughts are awesome in your late teens and early twenties, they could wreak havoc in both your financial and married life.

‘Money cannot buy happiness, ‘money is the root of all evil’ and many similar statements sound cool, but we all know the cost associated with survival. Marriage can change your financial life significantly and it is not about dowry or dependent spouses. You and your partner could have completely different ideas about spending and saving. Here are some money management steps to consider before and after marriage.

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Financial aspects to discuss before marriage:

It is a good idea to discuss some common financial issues before marriage and reach a consensus regarding important aspects. I know that amidst all the shopping, pre-wedding shoots, and discussing the colour of your bedroom, this may be a boring exercise to do. However, these discussions can pave way for a peaceful married and financial life so you stay comfortably in the purple bedroom forever without bringing out daggers at each other at every mention of money. You may decide to keep your finances separate or make it all a common asset. These discussions will help you avoid financial and emotional implications later. Here are some topics to discuss to ensure a financial equilibrium and better financial compatibility:

  • What is the budget for the marriage and who will bear the expenses: All of us feel differently about marriage expenses and none of the approaches is wrong. However, it is a major expense that can affect you for many years. Thus, it is important to discuss your budget, areas of cost-cutting, split-ratio, etc. 
  • Loans and other financial responsibilities: Many people choose to hide their assets from their prospective spouses for the fear that they may be in just for the assets. While you must address trust issues before committing to marriage, I leave that to you. However, discussing liabilities and financial responsibilities that you have already committed to is not an option but a necessity. It isn’t a happy feeling for anyone to enter a union only to be greeted by liabilities they never knew about. Do you support a relative’s family? Does any of you have children from a past relationship? Do you contribute regularly to a particular charity? Are there any loans that you are responsible for paying off? Make sure you discuss all of these before marriage to avoid any unpleasantness later.
  • Loan repayment plan if there are any outstanding debts: A person with loans is in full right to get married. It is just important to discuss repayment before you begin your married life. Come up with a coherent plan to pay off the outstanding debt. Remember that the debt-free partner may choose not to contribute to the loan, but the loan will still affect the family finances.
  • Division of expenses in the family: Facebook groups are full of distressing queries regarding circumstances where either of the partners is not ready to contribute financially to the household or the stay-at-home partner gets a meagre allowance. Discuss clearly how you plan to share expenses and if there is a non-working partner, how will they manage expenses.
  • Views about spending and saving: This is one of the trickiest bits to discuss with your to-be spouse. Most people flaunt extravagance during the courtship days only to seem fun to be with and to impress the other person. This can create unrealistic expectations that hurt the relationship later. If you are not in favour of credit card buying, say it. If you love to shop, say that too. Do you like to eat out, what is your view about jewellery buying etc. are some questions that can help you determine your financial compatibility with your future partner.
  • Discussing financial goals together: A marriage is a partnership in every sense. Setting joint financial goals for your future is a great way to step into marriage. Discuss priorities and goals. Talk about major expenses that you’d like to save for like a bigger house, better car, annual holidays, higher education, jewelry purchases, etc. Both partners must also discuss their career goals and retirement dreams

How your expenses change after marriage:

Rent or EMI: Many times, the rent goes up after marriage because you need a bigger house or one in a better locality. 

Travel: We all like to bask in the abundant beauty of the world with our spouses. Many times, it doesn’t stop at honeymoon and the travel expenses are an important component of the budget.

Eating out: Whether you eat out regularly or whip delicacies at home, your food expenses go up once you get married.

Insurance: Make sure that both of you have medical insurance to be prepared for any exigencies.

Furniture and appliances: The transition from singlehood to married life will also mean that you need to transition from a single bed to a double bed and need other things like a sofa, television, etc. 

Handling finances after marriage:

Among numerous strategies, the best one is what works for you. Here are some strategies you can consider:

  • Both partners can have a joint account in which they put in an amount proportional to their income and both can withdraw when required. It is always a good idea to discuss the expenses and plan for them together.
  • Some working couples also prefer to keep their earnings separate and contribute to the household expenses based on mutual understanding.
  • Partners can also treat all money as family money and plan savings and expenditures accordingly.

It is important to be candid about expenses in a marital relationship. Being on the same page will minimize friction. It is important to be understanding of the other person’s perspective as well. If one person is blowing up all the budget, you may require an open discussion around it. Similarly, treating the stay-at-home partner as less worthy of rights over money and say in financial matters isn’t right. Come up with an approach that works best for you and communicate effectively to minimize issues.

Other important things to do after marriage:

  • Update beneficiaries in your policies and other documents
  • Keep your partner informed about your investments and income sources

Financial discussions can be seen as taboo but are an important part of your relationship. Embark on this new journey with clear communication and ideas about this aspect of your life. All The best!

Also read: Planning for a child? Don’t forget these financial aspects!

Other articles by Smriti

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Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over ten years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter(X), Linkedin, or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
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