Heart to Heart

Did your wedding leave you in debt?

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Plan ahead of the wedding so you don't over spend. 

By CAROL NAMBOWA

Posted  Thursday, January 9  2014 at  02:00

In Summary

Financial checks. Weddings often tend to cause much excitement, probably because it is a special day, when you get to legitimise your relationship in front of the people who matter to you. Some people, however, get financially excited and forget that there is actually a life after that day.

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The day you, your family and close friends had been waiting for is gone. Lots of money – savings, contributions, loans - has been splashed on preparations, planning, replanning and eventually the D-day. There was merry making all over the place and after the function and probably an exaggeratedly-expensive honeymoon getaway. But you are back to reality, and you are broke!
It is no secret that the enormous expenses on wedding days strip several couples of potential savings, and leave many in huge financial debt.
Because of the heavy financial investment in today’s marriage ceremonies, some couples have now become conscious about planning for life after the wedding.
Before Mr John Meddie Segane and his wife Lydia Segane tied the knot in May last year, their budget read about Shs20m. However, prior to the wedding, their pastors told them to prepare for the honeymoon and the time after.
“I was stressed by the whole wedding preparations and the ceremony but since we had planned for the aftermath earlier, I stayed focused,” Mr Segane says.
A couple’s financial status determines how much they will spend on their wedding and how they plan for the period after.
The Seganes advise about the importance of spouses talking and planning together for the post-wedding period.
These were some of the things they did during their advance planning.

1. Advance payment for rent, bills and food
Ms Segane suggests that if one is renting, it is advisable to pay three to four months of rent in advance so that they do not have to deal with the landlord right after the honeymoon.
Anne Rose, who got married to Mr Steven Senkeezi in Novemeber 2008, says no one told her about the post-honeymoon period but she somehow knew they would not have money.
“Landlords have a tendency of increasing house rent after the wedding because they think you have money,” Ms Senkeezi says, admitting that she went to Steven’s office and asked him for some money, although she did not tell him what she wanted it for.
“I used the money to purchase necessities such as rice, maize flour, sugar, beans, soap, toothpaste and toilet paper.”
In addition to stocking food, Ms Segane says couples should draw a budget for things they will need after the honeymoon. Pending electricity bills too should be cleared in advance.

2. Save some money
The Seganes agree that while planning for honeymoon, couples should keep away from luxurious hotels, and instead put aside some money to use when they return.
Ms Senkeezi advises that couples should save at least Shs500,000 on their bank account.
“Both parties should strike a deal and agree that the money on the account shall not be withdrawn come what may, because no one will give you money after the wedding,” she says, adding that women are usually given some money by their parents when leaving home, so this too can be saved for future use.
“I was employed at the time of the wedding but I did not pick my cheque payment for that month. Instead I picked it after the wedding and it came in handy,” Ms Senkeezi says.

3. Do some gardening
“After the honeymoon, my wife planted some groundnuts and potatoes,” Mr Segane says.
His wife chips in, saying: “If you have land, use it. You can always hire someone to till it if you can’t. Food harvested from the garden after the wedding reduces expenditure on food.”

4. Do away with certain things
On their wedding budget, the Senkeezis spent Shs700,000 on studio photos, Shs1.2m on still photos and Shs1.5m on decoration. Ms Senkeezi, however, advises that couples go for something less expensive.
“Do not concentrate so much on the wedding because it lasts for one day and no one will foot that bill for you,” she says.

5. Money gifted at the wedding
The Senkeezis recall receiving Shs800,000 in cash on their wedding day, and they used some of this money to clear their debts.

When In debt

Mr James Abola, a financial consultant at Akamai Global, says the two main causes of wedding debt are poor planning and spending beyond one’s means. According to him, a wedding is a long process which should be given time. Drawing a two-year plan gives the couple time to collect resources. “Unfortunately some people only begin to plan on the eve of the first wedding meeting and with no substantial resources set aside, many resort to borrowing,” Mr Abola says.

He advises that it is important for couples to draw a debt repayment plan, scale down on expenses such as car maintenance and rent until the last owed cent is paid. Ms Senkeezi also suggests: “It is better to explain the situation to the people one owes money instead of dodging them. When you are open about the debt, they are more patient.”

HOW FINANCIALLY PREPARED WERE YOU FOR AFTER THE WEDDING?

‘No, we had not planned for the period after the wedding. However, we agreed we would go for honeymoon later when we get the money. After the wedding, we went on as usual. My husband got his salary and we used some money we got as contribution at the wedding.’
Winnie Ssegendo, house wife

‘We planned the wedding and had it in a month because a prophet at my church had asked all those who were not legally married to wed in a month. I had no money but got support from my workplace, friends and relatives. After the wedding, life went on because we did not have any debts.’
Latim Muhuma, Accountant

‘Although I did not plan for the period after the wedding, there was money. However, as they say, experience is the best teacher, I feel things would have been better if we had planned. Couples should keep in mind that the money spent with in those few days will not come back,’
Vincent Asaba, Author