Do we have to say it? Getting married is a big deal, and it comes with a big to-do list. Compared with the joy of sharing the news, the stress of planning a wedding and the adventure of dreaming up the honeymoon, more prosaic priorities—like figuring out how you’ll handle your finances together—can easily get neglected.
We believe the following five items are vital for couples to complete before tying the knot:
- Discuss Your Relationship with Money. People’s upbringing and experiences can leave them with very different approaches to handling money. It’s important to understand how your relationship with money is similar to or different from your partner’s before merging your finances. Be sure to discuss your beliefs about saving, how closely to track spending, your approach to making big purchases and how you feel about taking on debt.
- Explore Your Financial Goals. Once you feel you understand your partner’s financial beliefs, start to discuss your financial goals. Where do you and your partner see yourself in the future? What are your short- and long-term financial goals? Make sure you are both on the same page so that each of you feel financially ready for what the future holds, whether that’s going back to school, starting a company or a family, or retiring early.
- Develop a Budget. Creating a joint budget helps you understand and hopefully control where your money is being spent. Start by adding up combined monthly income and then subtract joint monthly expenses. Finally, decide how you will allocate your surplus toward your short-, medium- and long-term savings or investing goals.
- Create or Update Your Estate Plan. Now that you’ve found a partner in life, you’ll want to make sure they’re cared for after you’re gone. You will need to update wills, health care documents and durable powers of attorney, as well as designate new beneficiaries on key financial accounts. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to creating or updating an estate plan, give us a call. We can advise you on how to find an attorney and provide advice about more complex situations.
- Decide How Your Finances Will Merge. Some couples completely merge assets, some keep them separate and some strike a balance between the two (each contributing to a joint account from which bills are paid, for example). Whatever approach you take, open communication is key. Any of these arrangements can work—what’s important is that you both feel heard and understood.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you have questions about your specific situation, please contact your portfolio team. We’re happy to help.
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