Once the wedding gifts have been unpacked and the thank you notes have been sent, it’s time to get serious about the logistics of you and your new spouse’s shared life together. These newlywed financial tips are a good starting point for merging your financial lives.
First and foremost, you should talk to your partner about what you want to achieve financially in the coming years. Start with your goals for the next couple of years. Maybe you’ll want to buy a house or need a new car soon, or maybe one of you wants to continue your education. These are things you’ll have to save and budget for, so you need to be on the same page. One vital tip is to be willing to compromise. Maybe your partner values traveling more than you do, and maybe you consider the overseas trips a drain on your mortgage down payment, but if you can meet in the middle so that you’re both satisfied, your marriage will be stronger.
Take some time to list out your monthly income and expenses. From there, decide which expenses are a must, such as housing and utilities, and which are extra, like that makeup subscription box. It’s important not to spend more than what’s coming in, so work together to decide which things you could be spending less on, both as individuals and together.
Update Your Beneficiaries
Even if you’re young and healthy, it’s smart to be prepared in case of an accident. If you pass away suddenly, your spouse’s life will be made even harder if they have to deal with the legal hassles of claiming your assets. Make it easier on them and update your beneficiaries on your retirement accounts, insurance policies, investment accounts and savings accounts. Your next step will be to have a will made, but updating your beneficiaries is an easy start.
Reassess Bank Accounts
There are three ways to approach bank accounts—you can combine all of your accounts, keep them all separate or try a mixture of the two. Like every decision, there are pros and cons for each option. Take a look at TruStone Financial’s savings and checking accounts to see which option from your neighborhood credit union best fits your lifestyle.
Adjust Tax Withholdings
After getting married, one of the first things you could do is adjust the withholding allowances you claim on your W-4 form. Allowances help your employer calculate the amount of income tax to withhold from your paycheck based on income, deductions and marital status. Couples also have the choice of filing jointly or separately. Consult a tax advisor or use an online calculator to figure out which status will result in the lowest taxes for you both.
Review Insurance Plans
When it comes to health insurance, you should review your individual plans as well as the family plans offered by your employers. Decide which plan will give you the most coverage and save you the most money. In addition, you should consider consolidating your auto and homeowner or renter insurance policies. Many large insurers offer bundle discounts that will save you money in the long run.
Plan for Retirement
It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. If there’s a 401(k) plan available to you through your employer, take advantage of it, and consider opening an IRA as well. If you need assistance with the terminology and planning process, set up an appointment with one of TruStone Financial’s independent investment consultants.
Editor’s note: parts of this article were taken from The Washington Post and The Balance.