Before You Say I Do: Financial Planning Tips for the Happy Couple
Couples who are planning their wedding tend to be so giddy, that it’s easy to neglect talking about some key issues related to the upcoming union. In addition to deciding on things like flowers and food for the ceremony, you should also discuss another important “F” word: finances. From talking about credit card debt to determining if and how to combine your bank accounts, you and your fiancé should definitely devote an afternoon or two to financial planning. With this in mind, consider these following ideas:
Option 1: Share Everything
Some couples put all of their money into one checking and one savings account. Your paychecks get deposited into the checking account and you both have debit cards and checkbooks to access the money. This “what’s mine is yours” approach is great for couples who don’t have a lot of separate assets, and for spouses who are willing and able to help pay off the other person’s debts.
Option 2: One Main Account & Two Little Ones
If you are ready to share your bed, your bathroom and your toothpaste with your betrothed, but balk at putting all of your hard-earned money into a joint account, you can still opt for personal “fun money” accounts. If you have a combined income of around $4,000 a month, you can put $3,000 of it into your checking account for rent and bills, $500 into savings, and $250 into your own personal accounts. This makes it easier and fun to buy gifts for your sweetie without him knowing and gives you a sense of control over a portion of your money.
Option 3: Keep It All Separate
Some couples opt to keep all of their finances separate. You have your checking account and he has his, and you split up the bills that you are going to pay. This can be a good option for older couples who have been married before, or if you are not completely sure you can trust your spouse with money matters. When you go out to dinner or go on vacation, you can take turns paying out of your personal account. If you choose this method of finances, you can always re-visit it later on and switch to a joint account with a small shared balance.
Other Important Topics to Discuss
No matter which account option you choose for your money, there are plenty of other related topics you should also discuss with your fiancé. Since getting married and setting up accounts involves a great deal of paperwork and disclosing of personal data—some of which might fall into the wrong hands—it’s also well worth investing in an identity theft protection program. Check out the online reviews of companies like LifeLock on social media sites like Twitter, and research how they can help keep your information safe 24/7.
Talk about debt and come up with a solid plan on how to avoid it as much as possible. Newly-married couples can sometimes be tempted to buy everything they want for their new place, and many rely on credit cards to do it. Disclose any and all existing debts to each other, and work out a budget that will allow you to pay everything off as quickly as possible. Then, vow to not live beyond your means, and to use a credit card only for emergencies.