Summer wedding season is wrapping up and newlyweds are settling into that state of just-married bliss. So, we’re proactively encouraging couples everywhere to address handling their finances.
Have you developed a financial plan? Have you even talked about it? If all you’ve thought about for the last six months to a year is flowers and invitations and the color of the napkins at the rehearsal dinner then it’s time to sit down and have a quick talk. Here’s our top six tips!
If you haven’t already… Have, “The Talk”
It’s sometimes uncomfortable to discuss finances. But understanding your partner’s financial goals and spending habits is crucial to a long and happy marriage. You will probably have different answers about the reasons for saving your hard-earned cash, but talking about it is step one to developing a plan that works for everyone. It’s all about the compromise!
Set a Budget
One mistake many couples make is not establishing a budget early on. After assessing your finances as a pair, determine how you’ll spend your money each month. Are there certain expenses that you should be cutting back on and others you should be saving up for? Coming to an agreement and setting a budget will be beneficial for the health of your bank accounts and your relationship.
Have a Plan for Your Accounts
There is no ‘right’ way to manage your accounts. Take it from a bank that sees many, many options. We see many couples who have joint accounts and get along great. And we also know just as many couples have separate finances in the name of ‘keeping the peace’. The thing that’s sure to disrupt the peace is not having a plan!
Set Up an Emergency Fund
Life is full of surprises. Unfortunately, some surprises are expensive. An emergency fund helps you avoid very stressful situations when a large bill comes due and you’re scrambling to find the cash to pay it. It’s very important that you decide together how you’re going to fund that emergency fund.
Establish a Maximum
What does that mean? It means that you should have a dollar amount set, and any expense that’s going to be over that limit needs to be discussed by all parties before the money gets spent. That way, no one can claim they didn’t want to spend the money, or didn’t have a say in how their hard-earned money was spent.
Update Your Beneficiaries
Now that you’re… officially… “official”, you may wish to identify your spouse as the person who will receive your benefits. Things like your life insurance policy and the balance of your financial accounts. Don’t forget your 401(k)! Failing to do so can result in costly legal fees to determine a beneficiary after the fact.
These tips are intended to be helpful in starting a conversation or being proactive about your finances. In no way are we “experts” about marriage. Nor do we recommend joint finances, or separate finances for that matter. We do, however, recommend that you come up with a plan that works for you and your spouse. And we encourage fiscal responsibility! Best wishes for a long and happy marriage!