Before you say “I do,” say “Let’s talk.” Talking early and often about finances is an important part of building a strong foundation for your marriage.
Successfully tackling this topic can be a strong predictor of marriage success as it involves open honest communication, trust, and the willingness to understand and compromise with your partner. While you might have more exciting things on your mind like booking the honeymoon and finalizing a seating chart, the way you choose to deal with your finances now can impact the rest of your lives together. Use the tips below as a blueprint to build a strong financial foundation or download the financial checklist.
BEFORE “I DO”
Understanding each other and setting some ground rules now will make your marriage sweeter and your financial picture clear. Cover topics like: Will you combine finances or manage them separately? What debts and bills do we have? What are our goals for saving and retirement? Who is going to take the lead on managing monthly bills, debt, and investments?
Your credit scores can have a big impact on you financial future. It determines credit limits and the interest rates you qualify for.You can check you credit score for free at www.AnnualCreditReport.com
Make sure you talk about all the other important things that go into building a life together. A lifetime is a long time and what you decide today may change in the future but everyone needs a north star from which to navigate. Here are some topics to make sure you cover: children, career goals, future dreams (vacations? retirement?), housing arrangements (rent or own), friend arrangements (poker night every week?)
You have a big bright shiny future ahead of you. There is a lot to talk about and plan for. Make sure you take time to have fun and remember why you fell in love and are getting married. Remembering how to have fun with each other is an important skill that will keep your relationship strong.
Let your employer know so changes can be made by the time you return from the wedding and honeymoon. Make travel reservations using your maiden name. If you are flying or traveling internationally, you won’t have the documentation with your new name on it in time.
As much as you plan, life will come at you unscripted. Master the art of improvisation and have tools handy that might help you. Life insurance with Living Benefits in case you die too soon or become ill, an emergency fund, a will and living will are examples of tools you will want to have in your Life Unscripted toolkit.
AFTER “YOU DID”
Changing your name and address can be a lot of work! Here is a list of places you’ll want to make sure you get the new information to: Social Security, DMV – driver’s license and voter registration, US Postal Service, Passport, Employer or HR Department, Banks, Credit Cards, Loans (including educational student loans), utilities.
This is the time to lay it all out on the table and come up with a monthly spending and saving plan. Everything goes on the table, including the designer handbags and Yeti mountain bike – or whatever your vices may be. Hopefully you’ve had the money talk and established some ground rules so budgeting can go smoothly.
Review your tax withholding documents and decide if it benefits you to file a joint tax return. Tax advantaged accounts like a Health Savings Account (HSA) and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) can help you reach long term goals and reduce current tax liabilities.
Review and update the different types of insurance you have, especially life, health, and auto. Life insurance is like a safety blanket – it can cover lost income and eliminate debts. Unsure of how much life insurance you need? Start with our life insurance calculator.
Everyone needs an estate plan; regardless of the size of your “estate.” Have a will, living will and health care power of attorney.A will spells out your wishes and directions for the distribution of your assets after your death. If you already have a will, make sure it is up to date to reflect your recent marriage.
A living will reflects your desires regarding your medical treatment if you are unable to give informed consent.
A health care power of attorney designates a person who will oversee the medical decision outlined in your living will if you can’t make those decisions yourself.
Managing finances is never a “one and done” experience. As your life changes, so do your finances. Just like you make sure there is time to spend together, time to be with friends and time to do chores; schedule time to go over your budget and financial plan regularly. Also, don’t rule out working with a financial professional just because you may not have a big portfolio to manage. Many financial professionals specialize in working with people who are eager to develop a financial plan and help them achieve their goals. Not sure where to find a financial advisor who will work with you? We can help you here or ask friends and family for referrals. It will be worth it, when as a team, you’ve achieved your goals and can live happily ever after.
Living benefits may be provided by riders, which are supplemental benefits that can be added to a life insurance policy and are not suitable unless you also have a need for life insurance. Riders are optional, may require additional premium and may not be available in all states or on all products. This is not a solicitation of any specific insurance policy.