Saying "I Do" to a Financially Strong Marriage

When you decide to get married, many items suddenly appear on your “to do” list: buying rings, planning the honeymoon and completing your registry most certainly rank as top priorities.

But your financial plans should be high on your list too. Use these suggestions as a starting point:

1. If you are combining your finances for the first time, you should both make a list of your assets, such as real estate or securities holdings, and debts, such as credit card and school loans. Once you have this financial snapshot on paper, it will be easier for you to use our cash flow worksheet to help establish your budget. It’s a good way to track what you may spend.

2. Once your budget is established, you can see what to allocate to basic financial needs. Then, think about what you can save. Keep in mind that short term aspirations such as buying a house or having a baby should be considered alongside longer-term objectives including retirement. Systematic savings, such as an automatic deposit into your savings or investment accounts, may put you on track toward reaching these goals. Systematic investing, however, does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss.

3. You and your partner should determine the level of investment risk you can tolerate. You should talk with your financial advisor about what type of investments you are both comfortable with.

4. Another issue to decide: taxes. When it was just you, most likely, you filed your annual tax documents checking off the “single, head of household” boxes.

Now, when you file taxes as a married couple you have two choices: married filing jointly and married filing separately. Filing separately may not sound very romantic, but there may be sound financial reasons to do so. For example, if you are owed a refund but your spouse owes taxes, it could be beneficial to file separately. Talk to a tax professional for more information.

5. Getting married also comes with staid tasks like updating paperwork.  If you are a woman and take your husband’s last name, you’ll need to change identification including your passport and driver’s license. This may also be a good time to revisit your beneficiary designation on assets including your retirement savings.

Next Steps         
  • This week, identify financial issues such as creating a budget or saving for retirement that you should discuss before tying the knot. Order the Getting Your Financial House in Order workbook to help devise a budget and savings plan
  • Then, schedule an appointment with your financial advisor to draft a comprehensive financial plan for you both         

WEBC 10.16.06/04  11.30.06

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