Financial Planning Checklist for Newlyweds
You’ve probably put a lot of thought into the flowers, food and photography for your big day. But have you given any thought as to your soon-to-be family’s financial well-being?
Once you’re back from the honeymoon and the thank you notes have been sent, Texas certified public accountants (CPAs) have the following 10 tips to get your new financial home in order:
Insure your wedding rings
Make sure your new bling is protected from loss by insuring it. If you have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, you can get a rider to cover your jewelry. Talk to your insurance agent about coverage options.
Create a new budget
Now that you’re a family of two, you’ll need to set a new spending plan. You’ll get to split the cost of utilities, but the grocery bill will probably increase. Make a list of all income and expenses and see where you can cut back if need be.
Pay off debt
A wedding is a very expensive event and you may have turned to credit cards to help pay for it. Whether you have a serious shopping compulsion or student loans, if you have not already had the full debt disclosure discussion, do it now. Talk honestly and openly about your debt and decide on a repayment plan. Take a vow to forsake all other debt, except for your home mortgage, as long as you both shall live.
Assign financial tasks but share financial responsibilities
Someone has to take out the trash and someone has to pay the bills. Determine who’s in charge of paying the bills, monitoring investments, filing paperwork, and other financial tasks. The other person can clean up after dinner.
Once a month the two of you should dedicate two hours of open communication about your financial situation. Review monthly bills, level of savings accounts and progress towards your short and long-term financial goals.
Discuss your financial tolerance
Are you a spender while your spouse is a saver? Does your spouse want to invest in bonds, whereas you’re interested in stocks? Get to know each other’s personal finance personality and tolerance for financial risk. You may also want to set some financial ground rules like determining a spending limit without first obtaining your spouse’s consent.
Change the beneficiary on your insurance and update your wills
Contact your company’s human resources department or your insurance agent to list your new spouse as the beneficiary on your disability and life insurance. Don’t forget to do the same for your 401(k), bank accounts, etc.
Get a Social Security card with your new surname
Take your marriage license and any other required documentation to the Social Security Administration office nearest you and get a new Social Security card if you’re changing your name. The name on your Social Security card and your tax return must match.
Review how your new marital status will affect your taxes
If your new spouse has children, you may want to change the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck to reflect the new dependents.
Start an emergency savings fund
You’ll want to be prepared if and when the car needs new tires or the roof springs a leak. By setting aside money each month, you’ll accrue savings for surprise situations. Keep this account sacrosanct. Do not violate it for anything but emergencies.
Set new financial goals
Buying a home, starting a family, sending the kids to college, and retiring are all exciting life goals – they’re also expensive ones. As a newly married couple, talk about what you want in life and determine what financial steps you must take in order to get there.
Reviewed and edited by C. William Thomas, J.E. Bush Professor of Accounting in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University.