Last time I presented a pre-marriage financial checklist couples should discuss before the wedding. Now let’s discuss marriage finance issues you should resolve soon after returning from the honey moon.
After the wedding, there are even more financial issues to take care of to ensure you start down the financial road successfully. It is better to do as many as possible at the beginning when bliss makes compromise and working together the easiest. Here are marriage finance issues to review early, if not completed before the wedding.
· Update designations of beneficiary for life insurance, retirement accounts, and other benefits.
· Change your tax withholdings to married.
· If you change your name, file SS-5 with the Social Security Administration.
· Compare health insurance benefits and determine which one to continue as a family plan. You often have until 30 days after the marriage or have to wait until the next open season.
· Combine your auto insurance coverage.
· Review your life insurance to insure it’s sufficient to cover combined debts and loss of income. Life insurance for both spouses is important to cover expenses and lost earnings should either die. It should be big enough to cover all your debts, projected college expenses, and lost earnings. Adjust it regularly when life or financial events happen.
· Consider renters’ insurance sufficient to cover your new household possessions and wedding gifts.
· Set up a “tax folder” and drop in any tax related bills, notices, statements, etc.
· Review your will or get a new one. This is especially important after the birth of a child.
· Designate a safe, drawer, or file to put copies of all important financial documents, statements, account numbers, and passwords. This makes it easier to manage them as needed, but is invaluable if one spouse becomes incapacitated, goes overseas, or dies.
· Each should have a “power of attorney” to act on the other’s behalf if one becomes incapacitated.
· Setup automatic savings funds for your highest priority goals
· Decide upon a dollar value above which both partners must agree upon a purchase.
· Develop an initial accounting or budget comparing your income with your expenses, goals, savings, and wants.
· Discuss financial goals regularly.
· Open or merge bank, savings, and investment accounts, but keep separate retirement accounts.
· Do not combine student loans which would be difficult to untangle if necessary.
Next time, I’ll discuss options for combining your marriage finances.