Apr 20, 2020 09:36 AM EDT
6 Crucial Financial Talks for Newly Married Couples
Congratulations! You're getting married! Apart from the usual discussions around marriage like where to live and who takes out the trash, hopefully, you've taken time to discuss your finances, too. If you don't know what or how to start this conversation, here are six of the most crucial talks to have with your partner:
● Start talking.
There's no 'best time' to do this. If you're planning to get married, start talking about it before either of you say 'I do.' You'll want to be clear of what accounts you have, how much debt you both have, savings, and what and how you expect money to be handled. What are your financial expectations of each other? How about taxes? All of these are important elements to discuss in marriage to know what each partner thinks. Even if you don't have an answer or can't decide on something immediately, it's good that you've begun the conversation.
● Decide on your financial goals.
Once you both know your baseline financial status, it's also a good time to discuss long-term financial goals. What are your retirement plans? When do you want to retire? What about the current debts - how will it be managed? How do you want to manage your finances between both of you? Will you both continue working? Do you want to have a shared account?
You also need to decide how you'll be doing your taxes. Will you be filing a Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately? You also need to find out if you're eligible for any deductions and exemptions. Using tools such as TaxFyle, TurboTax, and FreeTax USA can help you organize your taxes, makes filing taxes easier and efficient.
● Discuss your accounts.
Do you want to open a joint bank account? Are you both comfortable with maintaining individual accounts? Combining accounts can simplify your finances, and more importantly, it also increases trust in a marriage. What's more, it helps when there's inequality in income, when one spouse decides to take on more child-rearing or household duties.
Having separate accounts is also fine, especially when both partners are working, and they want a level of independence. Just keep in mind that transparency and trust need to be practiced.
At the end of the day, you can do both - have a joint account for certain expenses and have separate accounts for your income, personal expenditure, etc. You just need to discuss at length what you're comfortable with.
● Create an emergency fund.
An emergency fund is a top priority. How do you do that? You can consider these four types as a vehicle to create your emergency fund:
High-yield savings accounts
Money market accounts
Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
● Consider a multi-faceted approach.
Each of the accounts listed above has its advantages and disadvantages, so be mindful of where you want to place your money. Aim to save up to six months' worth of household expenses in case of emergency, especially when you or your spouse find yourself with no income.
● Designing and tracking your budget
Finally, when you start a new home together, you need to design a budget for your household and personal expenses. It's also good to know where your money is being spent, whether it's for daily groceries, eating out, weekend outings, vacations, etc.
Allocate money for irregular expenses, decide how often you can eat out and what routine maintenance you have, such as car servicing, doctor's appointments, and monthly utility bills. Track this budget and make sure both of you keep each other accountable to stay within the spending limit. You can revise this budget as time goes by, but ultimately, tracking and reviewing is as good as not doing anything.
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