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Navigating love and finances: Building a strong foundation for your marriage

13 September 2023 Momentum
Sharon Hamman

Sharon Hamman

As the season for weddings approaches, couples often find themselves immersed in the euphoria of love and anticipation.

However, amid the whirlwind of romance and planning, it's essential to consider the significant financial implications that marriage can bring. Like a successful wedding demands meticulous planning, so too does the financial future of both parties involved deserve the same effort.

Beyond the flowers and vows, Momentum Senior Legal Adviser Sharon Hamman says marriage carries a financial weight of responsibility that should not be underestimated.

"Marriage is not just a union of hearts, it's also a financial transaction," emphasises Sharon. “The conversations you have and the financial agreements you make before marriage can profoundly affect your financial well-being down the road.” It is not something that should be taken lightly and one should consider the consequences through the ‘worst case scenario’ lenses – what happens if this union ends, either in divorce or death.

She provides some tips to give your relationship on the right financial foundation:

The importance of financial independence
Even though financial independence is probably one of the cornerstones of a healthy marriage, it is best to begin at the beginning and to determine what financial independence means for each party and how that is achieved. It is not the same thing for everyone and where some might be comfortable having joint bank accounts, or a shared account for shared expenses, others want to keep everything separate, sharing responsibility but nothing else.

With this in mind, it's crucial to establish financial boundaries and ensure both partners have the autonomy to manage their money. When a decision is made, one must remember to ask what happens if my partner dies or if we decide to part ways, and part ways on bad terms. You have to plan for the worst, as unromantic as it seems. Do not let superstitions lead to bad financial decisions.

“Independence not only fosters trust but also guards against financial dependency and potential economic abuse. When both individuals are empowered to make informed financial decisions and contribute equitably to shared financial goals, it strengthens the foundation of their partnership and sets the stage for a more prosperous future together."

Safeguarding against economic abuse
Economic abuse, a form of domestic violence, can manifest when one partner gains undue control over finances, limiting the other's access to money. To prevent such situations, Sharon says couples should maintain transparency in financial matters and ensure both parties have equal access and decision-making power about money.

Financial abuse is often normalised and generally remains concealed. Many individuals are unaware of what it entails. In fact, often neither the victim nor the perpetrator recognise that this form of abuse is occurring.

The role of a qualified, registered financial adviser
Before tying the knot, she says all couples should seek guidance from a qualified financial adviser. These experts can provide invaluable insights into managing finances as a couple, addressing questions about debt, assets, and financial goals. They can help to ensure that both parties are on the same financial page and that mismatches between the parties are noted and addressed. People come from different backgrounds and different customs and beliefs, and it spills over into financial matters. One of the biggest contributors to divorce is financial matters and where partners do not see eye to eye on the fundamentals – where one prefers to save and the other enjoys spending and there is no meeting in the middle.

The right financial adviser can help you create a personalised financial plan tailored to your unique circumstances, setting a solid foundation for your financial journey as a married couple. A plan that both partners buy into and both are committed to achieve, thereby creating common ground, softening the impact of those financial mismatches that may exist in the relationship.

“Engaging a financial adviser before tying the knot can be especially beneficial. These experts can provide couples with the guidance and tools needed to navigate financial challenges together, laying a solid foundation for a financially secure and harmonious future as a married couple.”

Align your goals
To achieve financial independence within your marriage, align your goals. Discuss what you're saving for, retirement plans, where you want to live, and family planning. These shared financial visions require careful planning and commitment.

Whether you're in the honeymoon phase of a new relationship or have been married for years, it's never too late to have an open and honest conversation about money.

“A simple conversation can help you get on the road to navigating your financial journey as a couple, ensuring you're on the path to marital bliss while safeguarding your financial independence,” says Sharon.

Marriage is a union of hearts and finances. By taking proactive steps to safeguard your financial independence and seeking expert financial advice before marriage, you can build a strong financial foundation that contributes to a healthy, equitable, and secure partnership.

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