Make a smooth financial transition into married bliss.
So, you’ve fallen in love! AND you’re engaged! Congrats! Now, make a vow to be on good financial footing as you start your married life together. Having a good relationship with money, open communication — and a good dose of financial savvy — can help you avoid friction with your partner. Plus, every couple needs certain things to make life together better, and financial smarts can make great things happen.
Ignorance is not bliss, especially when it comes to finances. It’s best to be open and honest about your debts, credit mishaps, and your previous financial history in general.
Many couples who don’t talk about their finances will attempt to buy a house or car together, only to realize one of them has less-than-ideal credit. Save yourselves from any unpleasant surprises and get it all out in the open before it becomes an issue.
We recommend that you each request a copy of your credit report and go over the reports together to correct any mistakes and see how each of you stand, credit-wise. You can also work on improving your credit. (This is a good time to get the ball rollin’ in the right direction!)
Agree on your goals
One goal that often gets pushed aside: building an emergency fund. You should plan on saving at least 10% of your combined income until you can cover (at least) three months of expenses. (We know, we know… but it’s all a matter of priorities, and your financial health is a priority just like eating, drinking, and sleeping.)
Another goal that should be discussed is planning for retirement. The earlier you both start saving money for retirement, the better off you’ll be in the long run. If your employer offers a personal retirement account, be sure to take advantage of it to the fullest (especially if your employer matches your contribution). If you don’t have access to an employer-offered retirement plan, consider opening your own individual retirement accounts. (Hint: we can help you with this!)
Having insurance tends to become more important as you begin your life together. As a Linn Area member, you automatically qualify for no-cost TruStage® AD&D (Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance). We also offer TruStage® Life Insurance. We encourage you to include insurance in your discussions.
(As a side note: If either or both of you have life insurance or retirement accounts already set up, you may want to contact those companies after you’re married to update your designated beneficiaries.)
Dig into the day-to-day
Now that you’ve got the big picture in focus, it’s time to nail down the specifics. Take some time to sit down together to discuss your accounts and develop a plan. Be sure to cover the following:
- Set a budget.
- Keep your credit clean. (Here are some helpful tips on how to manage your debt.)
- Protect yourselves by getting estate plans in place (e.g. wills, power of attorney, etc.)
- Explore joint checking vs. separate checking accounts. Some couples find it a good idea to have a larger joint account for recurring bills and expenses while each keeps a smaller, individual account for personal items and gift-giving.
- Consider changing account types to reap the greatest benefits. (For example, you might receive a higher interest rate if you combined your money into a high-yield checking or money market account.)
If you find you need a little extra guidance (or if you decide to change up your accounts), give us a shout. We’re here to help!
Now, are you ready to start planning for the wedding and honeymoon? If so, it’s a good idea to create a budget and stay within your means. Setting (and sticking to!) a wedding budget helps you figure out what kind of wedding and honeymoon you can afford. Remember — it isn’t about what your friends have done, but what you want to do and what works for your financial situation. Here is a great site that provides sample wedding budgets from $2,000 to $35,000.
Back from the honeymoon
When the ceremony and honeymoon are nothing but a sweet memory, drop by the nearest walk-in location with your marriage certificate, and we’ll update our records with name changes (if that’s something you did) and your new address (if you have one). We’ll be happy to review your accounts with you both and make any other changes you decided on in your pre-wedding planning. Oh, and one last thing: Congratulations!