Marriage is a truly wondrous thing, symbolizing the coming-together of two previously separate lives. This union is not just symbolic, though; it has practical, real-world implications. When you and your beloved walk down the aisle together, you’re effectively joining lives, households, and finances—and whether you start a joint bank account or keep everything separate, you’re certainly going to be in the same boat together, ‘til death do you part.
As such, it is smart for newlyweds and soon-to-be-weds to think about how they can get off on the right foot together, financially. How can you lay the groundwork for a financially secure, steady marriage? There are several points worth considering.
Communication is the hallmark of a successful marriage—and that includes the financial dimension. You may never have talked with your spouse about finances before, but now is the time to start. Make a list of all your income, assets, and debts, and talk through where you stand as a couple.
Come to an agreement about how you will own your assets. You can have joint accounts or separate ones, but you can also have an arrangement where there is a joint account for household bills, then separate ones for personal spending. This all comes down to what works best with your personalities.
Also talk about what you might like to consolidate. Having your credit cards and retirement savings joined, rather than separate, can often be more convenient.
Start a family habit of saving money. Whether it’s 5 percent of your combined monthly income or 20, make it a priority to put some money away for a rainy day—for a house down the road, or for having kids. Also invest some into retirement accounts. If you don’t already have individual retirement accounts, meet with a Stonepath Wealth Management advisor to start them.
Start tackling debt together. It’s smart to think of all debt as your household debt, even if one spouse brought most of it into the marriage, and to work together to pay it off.
Keeping your saving and debt payment goals in mind, sit down together and make a family budget. This might also involve setting some financial goals together—working toward a house down payment, a new vehicle, or whatever else.
Make sure to revisit your employment tax documents—like your W-2—to make sure you’re minimizing your taxes.
Finally, and although it may be a bit of a downer to think about this right after getting married, do take the time to think about what will happen should one spouse pass away unexpectedly. Make sure you get the wheels in motion for wills and other estate planning documents, ensuring the surviving spouse will be taken care of, should the unthinkable happen.
Even in the earliest days of your marriage, it is more than possible to lay the groundwork for a financially peaceful and prosperous life together. To learn more, contact your Stonepath Wealth Management advisor today.