It's no longer uncommon for newlyweds to opt for cash instead of traditional wedding gifts, as cash comes with possibilities that other gifts don't.
"Opting for cash over gifts is a sensible decision when considering that many young couples live together before getting married nowadays and have, as such, already acquired a large majority of the household items that are traditionally given as wedding gifts," said Lisa Airey, strategy analyst at Old Mutual.
Airey cautioned, however, that as much as couples are free to spend the lump of cash however they want, it's important that they consider the lump sum as an opportunity to jump-start their financial aspirations.
"Saving towards a deposit on your first home or the birth of a baby is so much more rewarding than receiving a second dinner service set," she said.
Marriage and *financial freedom https://t.co/Hs3ufHSGoi— Daddy (@itswchristopher) May 19, 2018
Other common goals that couples could consider investing towards include saving for a deposit on a property, an emergency fund for unexpected future costs, investing in shares in JSE-listed companies, saving for your children's education, investing for an unforgettable holiday or saving and investing for a sabbatical.
Airey advised newlyweds or soon-to-be-wed couples to follow these five steps to make wise decisions about their money:
1. Figure out your financial goals as a couple
It is essential that the couple comes up with a long-term strategy for saving and investing that they both agree is in line with their combined aspirations, advised Airey. "Every couple will understandably have different goals, so it is important that you talk this through in great detail before getting married, to ensure that you are on the same page when it comes to making any big financial decisions."
2. Be realistic about how long it may take to reach your goals
Airey advised newlyweds to be realistic about the time it'll take to reach these goals. "Couples need to keep in mind that building wealth is a marathon, rather than a sprint. Developing a well thought-out financial plan and strategy is very important."
3. Be honest about each other's financial past
It is essential for both parties to be completely honest about not only their financial position going into the marriage, but also their financial goals and fears for the future, pointed out Airey. "It is common for two partners to have different levels of aversion to risk, or different spending habits, and that's okay, as long as they are transparent with each other about these from the start."
7. HOW MUCH DEBT ARE YOU BRINGING TO THE MARRIAGE?— The Great Sage (@myunicy) May 19, 2018
If you can't be HONEST about this, there's not much HOPE FOR YOUR MARRIAGE.
Each partner needs to know the DEBT LOAD the other one is carrying, because once you're married that debt load is NOW SHARED.
4. Establish a system for resolving disputes
While conflict is inevitable in a relationship, money is said to be one of the biggest causes of conflict for couples. Airey advised couples to have a system in place to help them through difficult disagreements, especially concerning money, and if this calls for the intervention of a professional third party, it's fine.
"A financial planner can prove very handy in helping a couple manage their finances effectively when they may not see eye to eye," she said.
5. Commit to working together
Even though it is common for one spouse to take the lead when it comes to financial decisions, Airey stressed the importance of both partners being involved when it comes to their long-term financial plan. "The fact of the matter is that doing things as a team will result in a better outcome and allow for a better partnership over the long-run."
"Once you've merged your life with someone else's, you're working towards building the life you want to live together," said Airey. "Being on the same page about your goals for the future is a cornerstone in a solid marriage," she concluded.