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Just Married? Financial moves for ‘happily ever after’

By Pushpam Kashyap

You have just exchanged your vows for marital bliss and are looking forward to a happily-ever-after and a promising future. But with all the love in the air and the stress of wedding plans, you’ve avoided discussions on money matters with your other half. Sounds familiar? Don’t worry, you are not alone; many feel awkward talking about finances with their partner. In fact, some couples dodge the money talk even after years of marriage.

It’s never too late, so now is the time for your first money talk as a couple – will you need joint bank accounts? With which bank will you deposit the wedding jewellery and gifts? Will you need to change your nominees? Who will pay for the household expenditures? Will one spouse pay for the personal expenses of the other? How much do you need to save every month, and where should you invest? Plenty of such financial decisions will need to be made by both of you for a secure and protected joint future.

The points below will help you start thinking and behaving like a couple with your finances:

Be honest about your assets and liabilities
Trust each other and share how much you both earn, save and spend. List out your bank accounts, fixed deposits, equity investments, gold, property, current loans and EMIs, credit cards, life and health insurance cover, your will- everything. It’s a good idea to discuss where you plan to invest now and in the future. Don’t hide major financial purchases and debts from your partner as that can lead to resentment. All major financial decisions should be taken jointly instead of one partner having full control.

It’s important that both of you know where the other stands financially. Nothing romantic about it, but you need to get comfortable with talking about financial matters like household bills, debts, savings, goals etc.

Listen to each other’s dreams and set goals
Understanding what is important for each other will help you set financial goals and priorities that you both are comfortable with. It can be anything – a dream vacation, a dream car, a dream house, starting a family, higher education, or saving for retirement. Establishing both short-term and long-term common financial goals as a couple will make you work together towards attaining them and reach the needed balance of higher income and adequate savings. Putting together a plan early on will save you more money and prevent headaches down the road.

Make a monthly budget and track your spending
As newlyweds, having a budget or a spending plan is one of the most valuable financial tools in your hand. Managing your spending limits will prevent you from overindulging and keep you within your means. Tracking where your money is going is critical to feeling in control and promoting financial well-being.

Consider having one joint account along with separate individual bank accounts
Having your own money and being free to spend it however you deem fit may reduce money related arguments in couples. In addition to it, opening one joint account will help in seamless management of common wealth and financial goals, making it easier for both to transfer or withdraw money.

Link the joint account to a joint email id so that both are aware of the account statements and other communication regarding that account or debit card activities. When to spend, how much to spend, who will spend on what and how much percentage of salary will need to be contributed towards the joint account – these are personal decisions and will depend on the couple’s perspectives, and also on whether both partners are working or not. It is important that these points all be discussed and agreed upon beforehand.

Agree to have a joint emergency fund that is liquid and easily available to both without much paperwork and hassle. This will help you tide over any unexpected bad circumstances – a sudden loss of job, an accident, death, or any natural disaster. This fund can be kept in the joint savings account or a fixed deposit.

Review your insurance cover
If you have a life cover, check whether it’s adequate or you need to enhance it. In case you don’t have one, consider getting a term insurance. You may have a health insurance, either via your employer or taken yourself. Either way, after marriage, you may need to increase the coverage amount or get a family floater health insurance policy that includes maternity cover too. This will be especially important if your partner is not working or does not have any personal insurance cover as yet. Procrastinating this will only increase your premium amount with higher age.

Update documentation
Ensure your marital status is updated in all your documents and at work, with your spouse as your person to contact in case of emergencies. When you were single, you may have mentioned your father or mother as your nominee or beneficiary in all your bank, insurance, provident fund and investment accounts. Now after marriage, you can get those documents updated with your spouse’s name as the beneficiary. You should also consider getting a will made, if you don’t have one already, to avoid any future disputes.

Depending on your situation, one or both of you may have to get your address updated in your passport, bank account, mutual fund and also with your employer.

After marriage, you have to take shared responsibility of your finances as a couple and adopt a new way of managing finances. Be open, trust your partner, review your spending and goals continually so that you both are on the same page. The marriage of your financial outlook and attitude towards money will set the foundation for your marriage as a whole.

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