Here’s a Financial “Gift” for Newlyweds
Getting married? Or just tied the knot? Congratulations! There’s a lot to look forward to in the future. And there will be lots of “new” things to get used to.
As two lives intertwine, situations will surface that were never encountered before. And lots of those situations will revolve around finances. From buying a house to setting a budget, money is inevitably a central theme in anybody’s marriage.
So what’s the best way to approach the “M” word? Communicate! Financial experts stress that it’s important that newlyweds keep the lines of communication open about their finances and financial expectations. Couples who aren’t afraid to talk about money matters are better prepared to deal with financial issues down the road.
So where do you start? There are several steps you can take to provide for financial stability in your marriage. Here are some to consider:
- Share your financial goals and spending habits. Chances are neither will be perfectly aligned with your spouse’s. But by letting each other know where you’re coming from financially, it’s a good way to set a course for the future moneywise.
- Be open about any financial baggage you’re bringing into the marriage. Exposing all your monetary skeletons may not be easy and could be a bit embarrassing, but it’s better than keeping it a secret and setting up your relationship for potential problems later. Topics worth discussing include outstanding bills and credit scores.
- Establish a budget and stay with it. Perhaps you were a little loose with your money when you were single. But marriage brings with it major financial obligations that require budgetary control, such as purchasing a house or starting a family. A monthly financial blueprint to follow can make those obligations easier to handle.
- Separate or joint? Accounts, that is. You need to discuss whether you want to have checking and savings accounts in both your names, or whether you want to keep them separate. It’s a matter of preference. But as mentioned before, it’s important to be open about your accounts and not maintain “secret” accounts.
- “Separate or joint” applies to filing taxes, too. It’s a decision you will need to make in advance of tax season, so it wouldn’t hurt to consult with a financial adviser to determine what the best way to go is.
- Update plans and documents to reflect your marital status. This ranges from changing beneficiaries for your 401(k) plan and life insurance to deciding whether you need to review your health insurance coverage. For instance, one spouse may want to pick up the other’s health plan because it’s more affordable and comprehensive.
- If you have wills or other estate-planning documents, they should be reviewed to determine if any revisions are necessary.
- Set up an emergency fund for unexpected expenses. Decide in advance if one of you will be responsible for contributing to the fund or whether this will be a joint responsibility. Financial experts recommend that the fund has enough to cover three to six months of normal expenses.
Marriage is a significant step for any couple. Getting off on the right foot financially can lead to marital harmony for years to come.