Marriage and Money: 10 tips for financial bliss
Money may not be able to purchase happiness, but when it comes to your marriage, even discussing money can go a long way.
Here’s a checklist to assist you and your partner budget happily ever after to get the conversation started.
10 tips for financial bliss
1. Give yourselves a financial checkup
Many couples may put off talking about money before marriage, but that lack of knowledge can be pretty risky; past mistakes can affect your future together. Get to know each other’s financial situation, like how many credit cards you each have and how you spend your money—including what kinds of things you both indulge in—before you walk down the aisle. Getting a good grasp on your partner’s spending habits and the financial picture will help you make decisions on how to merge your money after you get married.
2. Recognize your partner’s financial obligations.
Before you merge your funds, learn about your partner’s debt situation.
You can work together to pay off debts if necessary.
Keep your finances separate until that time comes—for example, avoid opening a joint account, cosigning, or adding your partner as an authorized user until that time comes.
If you’re planning a wedding, you’ll need at least one good credit history to fall back on.
Find out more about debt-reduction strategies.
3.Save for the wedding and beyond
Once you announce your engagement, open a savings account earmarked for your financial goals and future expenses. Generally speaking, many experts recommend putting at least 10 percent of your combined income into savings each month. If you’re saving for a wedding, you might consider boosting that amount so you can continue contributing to your normal savings while still putting money away for the big day. Even if you’ll have help paying for the wedding, you’ll likely still want some money saved, perhaps for a honeymoon or down payment on a new home.
4. Make a budget that you and your partner can live with.
Gather all of your bills and documentation and place everything on the table.
Calculate how much you’ll owe each month, how much-combined income you’ll have, and how much money you’ll have left after it’s all said and done.
Remember to account for any potential wedding or honeymoon costs.
Setting spending restrictions is also beneficial.
Before you take those vows, decide on a cash amount that neither of you can spend without first consulting the other.
5.Decide who is in charge of what.
It’s a good idea for each of you to have a say in how you manage your funds.
One person can be in charge of day-to-day bills, while the other is in charge of long-term investments and retirement planning.
6. Is it better to combine or not to combine?
Money management in marriage can be done in a variety of ways.
So examine your alternatives and decide which way is best for you and your partner.
You can either register a combined account, link your individual accounts together, or keep your separate accounts.
It’s a personal choice, so think about your options and figure out what works best for you.
7. Keep your beneficiaries up to date. You can name your spouse as a beneficiary—the person who receives money and benefits if something happens to you—once you’ve married.
This includes life insurance, 401(k) plans, your will, and any other benefits that they may be qualified for.
8.Make adjustments to your withholdings.
Married couples can choose to file jointly or separately, so chat to your spouse and a tax professional about which option is best for you.
9.Have a financial date night with your significant other.
There’s no reason to wait until something goes wrong before talking about money.
So set aside sometime each month to delegate extra money-related responsibilities, discuss future financial decisions, and assess how far you’ve come toward achieving your goals together.
10. If you change your name, notify your bank.
If you plan to change your name after you marry, keep in mind that the procedure differs by state.
Remember to update your password on all of your banking and investment accounts as well.
To learn more about the process, call or visit your bank, or go to its website.
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