For better or worse: Staying financially fit after the wedding!
Tameka Thomas and Roger Shaw are young, educated, gainfully employed professionals who are months away from taking their relationship to the next level. They're among hundreds of couples who will tie the knot this year, joining their lives and fortunes for better or worse.
With only four months to go before the wedding, Thomas, like any other bride, is preoccupied with the big day - carefully planning every detail to ensure that the ceremony and reception go off without a hitch. With the event slated for a picturesque location in the hills of St Andrew, it promises to be everything the blushing bride has ever dreamed of. For now, she and her fiancée are focusing almost exclusively on the wedding.
"I must say that we have a one-track mind right now. All we've been thinking about for the last few months is the wedding," confesses Thomas.
That's understandable, says Dawn-Marie Brown, senior relationship manager for corporate banking at Capital & Credit Merchant Bank. However, the banking executive is urging the happy couple to think a little more about the days, months and years beyond the wedding.
"The wedding is just one day, the marriage is for a lifetime," she asserts.
Brown is encouraging the couple to apply some of those same planning skills to one particular and very important aspect of their relationship - finances. Acknowledging that the transition from 'I' to 'we' is often tricky, Brown says it can and must be successfully done in order to help couples achieve financial fitness and long-term success, way beyond the initial 'I dos'.
"People don't often stop to consider that love alone will not be enough and that nothing kills a fairy-tale romance faster than disagreements over money." Research shows that besides sex, money is usually the major source of discord in marriages, and Brown says even if some other factor threatens the relationship, friction over finances almost always creeps in.
The Capital & Credit executive advises couples about to take the plunge to be open and honest about money, and decide, up front, the financial goals that should be set and how they will be achieved.
"The couple should hammer out their joint financial goals long before they head down the aisle. Make a decision on things like whether you will combine your money or keep separate accounts."
Once those decisions are made, goal setting and careful budgeting will be essential. These activities must be done with the full agreement and commitment of both parties, who must decide not only day-to-day expenses, but also provisions for long-term costs such as an emergency fund, retirement and estate planning, regardless of age.
Beginning with the wedding, Brown urges caution and prudence in all spending decisions.
"Be practical. It makes little sense to have a grand wedding and start your marriage in debt," she argues.
Instead, Brown recommends instruments such as the Capital & Credit Bridal Registry which can be used as the foundation for savings in the future.
"This is an easy and convenient way for your guests to give you a gift and takes little or no time to arrange. Later, funds from the Capital Bridal Registry Account can be combined with the money saved from having a simple wedding to perhaps deposit on a house." According to Brown, the account is versatile and provides several options for newly-weds who are keen on savings and/or investments.
As for the starry-eyed couple, Brown advises Thomas and Shaw to begin to discuss their money life now, rather than later.
"They will need to plan ahead and to communicate openly about financial issues. They also need to get the kind of tailor-made advice that's available here at Capital & Credit," she adds.
So if you're planning to take that walk down the aisle in 2011, begin to think about how you can attain the level of financial fitness you need to succeed as a couple.
"It's definitely something to seriously consider," Thomas agrees.
From now until the end of the year, the Capital & Credit team will be at your service, having teamed up with The Gleaner to provide practical tips on how you can whip your finances into shape.
Get the information you need in print, online and on air. Read The Gleaner every last Friday, log on to The Gleaner's website www.go-jamaica.com and tune in to Real Business on Power 106 FM every last Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. for getting and staying financially fit!