Here comes the bride...and a lot of financial decisions on the side! Getting married is a big step in your life that is both joyous and stressful at the same time. Beginning with your wedding day, you and your spouse will have a lot of financial decisions to make. Whether it's choosing the perfect cake and flowers, determining your honeymoon destination or planning for your future, you will inevitably have the "money talk". In fact, it's recommended you have the "money talk" often. Communication is key to a healthy and successful marriage, especially when it comes to your finances.
With so much to think about, we have outlined for you a few topics and "to dos" that should be on your list when planning your future together.
Vow to discuss each other's financial history.
Before you even say your "I dos", assess each of your current assets and debts, including vehicles, credit cards, loans and credit scores. If one of you has a better credit score than the other, it may be beneficial to look at combining your accounts with the better credit scorer as the lead account holder. The better your score, the better your rates. In most cases, it works to consolidate your debts.
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Discuss your individual spending habits.
You may have to accept one of you is more frugal and one is more careless when it comes to money. Remember to keep an open mind. Decide now on how to compromise. Determine if you want to combine all your accounts or keep them separate. It might be wise to combine your accounts but develop a separate "fun money" account for each of you, so you still maintain some financial freedom from your partner.
Cool Hookup: Be sure to check each of your credit reports at least once a year. To request a free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
If you choose not to marry your accounts, pun definitely intended, then at least review the beneficiaries on your account. Do not assume that if something happens to you that everything will automatically go to your spouse. Contact your credit union to see what you need to do to get your spouse set up as a beneficiary.
Your first labor of love together should be setting financial goals. If buying your dream home is top on the list, then plan for it. If it's traveling somewhere exotic for your anniversary every year, then discuss a vacation fund. If it's simply paying off one credit card at a time, set aside a specific amount. Be sure to discuss kids and how many you want and when. From a bigger family vehicle to day care, children are a major expense that should be factored in - even if you don't plan on putting them on your radar for a few years.
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Develop your budget.
Once you've written down your goals, look at the basics to plan a budget. Review monthly expenses like groceries, the mortgage, gas, gym membership, etc. If your spouse enjoys and can't live without going to the spa or golf course once a month, figure it into your budget. Decide together what works and what needs to be cut to accommodate your overall goals and lifestyle.
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Do inventory on your insurance coverage.
Most couples get a better deal when they combine their insurance costs, specifically auto insurance. In addition, now is the time most people sign up for life insurance. Also review any disability coverage you have, as well as homeowner's insurance. You will enjoy bigger discounts by using one insurance provider, but be sure they are giving you the most for your money.
"Our new auto insurance rate is saving us approximately $1300 a year!" C. Campbell, Member since 2003
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Don't forget the details.
Most couples will either create or update their wills to include their spouse. Plus, for women, it's crucial to update your name on all your accounts if you change your name. This affects the smallest things, like re-ordering checks. You may also need to update your address.
Fun Tip: For a complete guide to choosing your new last name and making it happen, click here.
Walk down the aisle on the right foot.
When it comes to the fun part - preparing for your big day - be sure you cover your bases. If you have to pay for some of the event and/or the honeymoon, develop a separate wedding budget. If you are unable to pay cash, you may want to consider a Home Equity Line of Credit if you already have a home or a low-interest credit card to pay your expenses. Avoid getting into debt and be realistic. Keep in mind your wedding should be a memorable occasion for all the right reasons!
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Don't be afraid to ask for help.
After the honeymoon is over, consider speaking to a professional about your finances. Many financial institutions offer Planning and Financial Services to discuss your current financial situation as well as advise you on possible investment options for your future. Make sure you and your spouse have a lot to look forward to in your golden years together.
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