With marriage comes excitement—and reflection for where you've been and where you're headed together in life. Enhance all of the positivity surrounding this new stage with proactive discussions and planning to make sure you and your spouse are on the same page long before you say, "I do." Remember, you're in this together. Your lifelong commitment also means working together to ensure you reach your shared goals long after the wedding bells have rung.
UNITE YOUR FINANCES
Share financial inventory. With both of you bringing your financial past and present to the table, get a handle on the details you'll need to move forward in your new life together. Include any debt (student loans, credit cards, home or business loans, etc.) and current credit scores as part of the discussion.
Get organized. Talk through how you're going to manage your short- and long-term finances. Will you keep separate bank and investment accounts or join them together? Will one person be responsible for bill paying? Although you divvy up the doing, each partner should be privy to all the information and part of the decision-making process.
Discuss expectations. Once you've decided to get married, other milestones may follow suit, such as buying a home and planning for a family ... and they bring their own financial implications. Will you move into a spouse's home or buy a new one? If planning a family, the size and location become more important when considering room to grow and school zones.
CREATE JOINT GOALS AND PRIORITIES
Explore money philosophies. One of the most important things you can do for the health of your relationship is talk about your financial upbringing. This helps discover your investment risk and spending compatibility, and ultimately create understanding to forge shared goals.
Make a budget. Whether focused on funds for your wedding, managing debt or combining finances, you'll need a budget before any goals can be reached. Be realistic and honest with spending, and include saving money to create an emergency fund.
Think long term. It's never too early to work with a financial advisor to help you consider how today's decisions can affect your future. He or she can craft a financial plan outlining your new family's agreed-upon goals and give you a path to help reach them.
SECURE YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE TOGETHER
Evaluate insurance policies. Take a look at your current situation to make sure both you and your spouse are covered, and compare what your employers offer for life and health insurance to determine what's best now. Make sure health insurance covers relevant medical care, such as prenatal care if you're planning for children.
Update wills and beneficiary designations. Make sure you include your spouse on any retirement accounts, life insurance and your will (or create one now).
Plan now for your retirement. Saving early helps ensure your money works for you over time, and provides more opportunity for your money to grow. Make sure you both contribute to available employer-sponsored retirement savings plans to take advantage of the company match.
Consider tax filing options. Depending on your income, you may or may not bene t from ling jointly as a married couple. And, don't forget to adjust the tax withholding from your individual paychecks once you've tied the knot.
Article provided by Melissa Stewart, CFP®, AIF®, Financial Advisor at Blueway Financial Partners of Raymond James.
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