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With my wedding around the corner, I got thinking about my upcoming financial union. I wanted to share a few financial topics every newly-married couple should address.
Clarify the big picture – Chances are you and your partner had a few serious financial discussions before you were married. Now‘s the time to sit down and find out each other’s short- and long-term financial goals. What are your career goals? Would your spouse like to buy a house in the next few years? What about children and their education? When do you want to retire? How about your partner? Do either of you want to own a business? Use these questions as a starting point for planning a successful financial future together. My partner and I had those discussions early in our relationship and it helped get rid of the elephant in the room. The earlier you have those discussions, the more successful you become with talks around finances.
Day-to-day finances – One of the most important decisions newly-married couples face is organizing day-to-day financial affairs. Will you keep separate accounts or open a joint account for paying bills? Will you divide expenses between you and your spouse? Will you contribute to a joint account and pay bills from there? Do you pay bills proportionate to your income or split equally? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions; it is personal preference.
Long-term financial security planning and investing – You’ll want to discuss your approach to investing with your partner. Will you consolidate your investment accounts? Do you currently work with a financial security advisor? Does your partner work with someone else? Be sure to discuss your “philosophy” of investing (for instance, are you risk averse, do you like to invest in mutual funds or stocks, etc.). If your styles are completely different, you’ll need to reach a compromise before you start investing as a couple. A financial security advisor can work with you to better educate you on the different type of investing.It is very important to work with a financial security advisor. I recommend that if neither of you have one, make sure you find one. If both of you do, then meet with both financial security advisors individually and make sure you BOTH enjoy working with that financial security advisor and feel comfortable with him/her. It is best that you consolidate and work with one financial security advisor on all your financial matters.
Estate planning – I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure your will and life insurance coverage is in order especially if you plan on having kids. Consider short- and long-term needs. Look at the immediate financial liability that would occur if one or both of you died prematurely: debts, car loans, mortgage, student loans, lines of credit. Make sure there is enough insurance to cover all these. Then, look at income replacement. As a couple you’re building a household on two incomes. What happens when you lose one income due to an unexpected event? Do you have to have enough life insurance coverage to account for the income loss?
You can also discuss long-term estate planning goals. What kind of legacy would you like to leave behind for your children and your community? These may be sensitive topics. However, talking about them early in your marriage will help ensure that you actually address them.
These are some of the financial topics that you and your partner may want to discuss as you plan your new life together. After all, every successful partnership is about creating a union that is greater than the sum of its parts. And that is exactly what financial security planning helps you achieve.
Until next time.