Financial Tips For Couples Who Just Got Married
You’ve taken the walk down the aisle, said your “I do’s,” and pledged eternal love and devotion to one another. But once the glow of your wedding day wanes, you might find yourself glowering over your newly-merged finances, and all the difficulties that can come with money matters.
According to the National Council on Family Relations, financial conflicts rank higher than other common marital disagreements as a strong predictor of divorce. It’s difficult to separate money matters from personal relationships, and that can lead to conflict, recriminations, disagreements, and disappointments.
Here are five important money management suggestions that might help you better navigate your new financial life together. And allow you to avoid seeing red over your newly merged greenbacks.
Determine Financial Goals
Your financial goals and aspirations might differ significantly from those of your spouse. But how will know if you don’t talk about them? Discussing short- and long-term goals can help you avoid making incorrect assumptions while at the same encouraging more realistic compromises. Hot-button topics can include home buying, car purchases, living in a condo or townhouse, taking out a loan, and planning for an expensive vacation.
Fully honest discussions allow both individuals to make their financial expectations known. Once money goals and parameters have been agreed upon, specific action can be taken that will enable you and your spouse to be on the same page of the financial ledger.
Look Into Life Insurance
Chances are you won’t suddenly die unexpectedly, but why tempt fate? If you have sufficient life insurance coverage, anyone that relies on your income won’t be left struggling to pay bills. It pays to take out a policy soon after your married, as insurance rates are more affordable for young people who don’t have any serious health issues.
The amount of coverage you’ll want depends on several things, including your wages as well as those of your spouse, if you have children, and the level of debt you’re carrying such as a home mortgage.
Increase Your Emergency Fund
Whether you’re single or married, establishing an emergency fund is always a smart move. But now that your life is combined in many ways with that of your spouse, you’re looking at twice the chance that something such as illness or an unexpected job loss could wreak havoc with your finances.
Most financial experts agree that an emergency should include enough money to cover living expenses for three to six months. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests creating a dedicated emergency fund with your credit union or bank, and taking advantage of a high-interest savings account.
File Taxes Jointly
Your wonderful new life of togetherness extends to filing taxes: Joint filing brings several advantages, including qualifying for several tax deductions and credits as well as taking a larger standard deduction.
Keep in mind that if a spouse owes child support or back taxes, or has defaulted on a loan, the IRS could offset any joint tax refund in an attempt to satisfy any existing debts.
Be sure to inform the Social Security Administration of any name changes that you make once you’re married. And remember to notify the IRS if you move; that way, you won’t miss out on any tax refunds that are being sent your way.
Assess Your Credit Card Debt
You’re no longer flying solo when it comes to financial matters: Once you’re married, your spouse’s credit history – and debt – impacts your collective ability to borrow and the amount of debt you can take on. Even if only one spouse has a spotty credit history, you could find it difficult, if not impossible, to secure something like joint mortgage approval. The reason? According to the credit bureau Experian, lenders will focus on the lowest credit score in a married couple instead of using the higher of the two scores or averaging both scores together.