Ditch the lehenga, grab the ledger: a practical guide to navigating finances as a newly-wed

Shaadi season may be over, but the post-wedding financial tango has just begun. Here's how Pakistani couples are making their rupees waltz

In Pakistan, the whimsical notion of “Decemberistan” has taken root, revolving around the extravaganza of weddings. Whether you are the one getting married, or you are attending ceremonies for friends and family, December marks the peak of these joyous celebrations. A reprieve from the nuptial whirlwind is only granted until the onset of summer when the cycle recommences.

The commitment to these weddings is not just emotional but also financial, as newly-wed couples and their families invest significant sums in creating memorable festivities. However, once the festivities conclude, the challenge shifts to managing finances and determining the fate of the salamis (gifts). The post-wedding financial puzzle can be perplexing, prompting individuals to contemplate their next steps amidst the aftermath of the grand celebrations.

Profit is here to help. We interviewed several newly-wed couples, of which five gave us extensive insight into their financial habits. Our research revealed a few underlying themes across the board. 

First, that all newlywed couples crave a financial partnership that balances long-term goals with spontaneous expenses. While joint accounts and dedicated savings are a popular option, most couples also appreciate the occasional splurge.

Second, there is a clear split in how partners approach finances. Couples can either be a single-income household, or a double income household. Within double income households, husbands often take the lead on household expenses, while both partners contribute to savings, ensuring a secure future. We have included examples of both scenarios in this story. 

Finally, all the couples who spoke to Profit thought that open communication is your secret weapon. All advised other newly-weds to discuss income, expenses, and financial goals honestly and regularly. This transparency builds trust and avoids surprises, leading to a smoother journey.

 While there are many ways one can go about it, here are some approaches being used by newly-weds. 

 Single-income households

 Single-income households are where one partner is the sole breadwinner. 

Couple A were married in December, and started their journey with the first step of prioritizing spending and savings. Essential running expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries top the list. They allocate a pre-determined amount for groceries. 

Beyond necessities, Couple A prioritized paying off wedding-related loans through their salamis. They also used a portion of their salamis to diversify their personal investments, using some for high-yield investments like property blockchain or mutual funds, and reserving some in a readily accessible savings account for emergencies. 

After savings, a fair amount is allocated for each spouse’s “pocket money,” allowing individual freedom to spend whatever they want for the month.  

Open communication about monthly earnings and total savings forms the cornerstone of Couple B’s financial strategy. Transparency reigns supreme for this husband. He keeps his wife fully informed about his monthly earnings and diligently tracks their growing savings, which reside entirely in her bank account. This “shared savings account” approach fosters trust and joint vision, ensuring both partners are aware of their financial standing and future goals. The discipline is clear – this account serves as a sanctuary for deposits, not withdrawals. The husband also contributes a portion of his salary regularly to his mother. 

 Despite their generally mature financial approach, the couple acknowledged instances where decisions might not have been the most prudent. For instance, their salamis were spent on their honeymoon, which they recognize might not have been the most financially savvy decision.

Still, Couple B believes in keeping each other informed and setting common goals in order to achieve financial harmony in a single-income household.  

Double-income households

In Couple C, both partners are working professionals, but the couple decided only one partner would contribute to household expenses. This includes rent, utilities, groceries, and household essentials. 

Recognizing the importance of long-term planning, they dedicate 10-20% of their combined income to savings, aiming for a safety net and pursuing future goals. This strategy ensured both responsible spending and a steady nest egg for the future.

Creating a realistic budget was key. They prioritize necessities like rent and food, but also factor in fun and leisure, striking a balance between responsible saving and enjoying life together. They closely track their spending, adjusting as needed to avoid impulsive purchases and stay on track.

They adopted a “brick by brick” approach for their home. Instead of going all out immediately, they focused on adding essentials gradually, prioritizing practicality over extravagance. For larger expenses, they considered dipping into salamis, but ultimately allocated any remaining funds towards shared goals like vacations or additional savings.

Sharing financial responsibility was central to their success. Couple C told Profit that the most important tip was to abandon the “hero mentality” and recognize that both of them contributed to the collective effort. “Stay flexible, adjust plans as needed, and allow your budget and goals to evolve with changing circumstances,” partner one of couple C said. Regular financial check-ins ensured they were on the same page and could address any emerging issues together.

 ​​Couple D, who tied the knot recently, shared the importance of a financial buffer. Like some of the aforementioned couples, this duo also settled pre-wedding loans by utilizing their salamis.  

As both are working, they decided to contribute Rs 5,000 -10,000 each month in a joint account to save for emergency funds. A transparent budgeting strategy is in place, with Rs 30,000 allocated for essential household expenses, including maid services and groceries. This structured approach not only addresses immediate needs but also lays the foundation for long-term financial stability. 

The husband further stated that a significant portion of the salary, or Rs20,000 was saved, and supplemented by additional income from freelancing and sales commissions. The couple will be saving in foreign currency or investing in reliable sources once a substantial amount is accumulated.

While managing household expenses and her own savings, this wife enjoys the freedom to personalize her financial goals. This balanced approach acknowledges individual aspirations while prioritizing joint stability.

 The husband’s job not only provides medical coverage for both but also boasts a robust Provident Fund with flexible withdrawal options. Meanwhile, the other spouse directs their earnings towards personal savings, ensuring a dual-pronged approach to financial security. This adds another layer of security to their financial system.

 Another couple, Couple E, has a different approach. As both spouses are working, every payday the first step is to allocate a portion of each spouse’s salary to the joint account. This designated joint account becomes the bedrock for savings, emphasizing the importance of financial planning right from the outset.

 Following this allocation, the couple then utilizes one of the salaries to cover day-to-day expenses, including rent, bills, and personal spending. This method not only facilitates a clear delineation of responsibilities but also allows for a balanced and organized approach to managing the household’s financial affairs. After the primary salary is exhausted during the month, the couple seamlessly transitions to utilizing the second salary for any remaining expenses.

 What happens when they have any leftover funds at the end of the month? There are options: add them to the joint savings account for an extra financial upsurge, treat themselves to a surprise date night, or invest in personal development courses. 

Whether you’re a single-income or a double-income duo, remember that open communication is important. These are some model strategies that can be taken into consideration by newly-wed couples for a secure and prosperous future. Couples must shed the inhibitions surrounding money matters and establish clear financial goals. Laying out individual expenses, income sources, and existing debts creates transparency and fosters trust. Navigating finances can be daunting, but grab a cup of chai, take a deep breath, and step into your happily ever after, one budget at a time.

Saneela Jawad
Saneela Jawad
The author is a staff member. She tweets at @SaneelaJawad Email: [email protected]

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