personal finances — June 27, 2016

Financial Tips for Newlyweds

by Susannah McQuitty

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Chalkboard-styled lettering and pastel mason jars complement a vintage wedding cake

The day has finally come! You’ve planned, shopped, mailed a billion invitations, and arrived at your wedding day. (Who knew that new beginnings would taste so much like wedding cake and envelope glue?)

Whether it’s with joy, nostalgia, anticipation, lack of sleep, or—most likely—a combination of all four, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed. And when it comes to your new financial situation, that feeling may reach a whole new level.

If you don’t know where to start discussing your finances, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve collected a list of items for you to address as you move forward with the money side of your relationship.

Review your past

Scattered letters, papers, and love tokens tell a story of the couple’s past.It’s time to get your financial history on the table. Sound scary? It might be at first, but remember that this is part of building a successful marriage—you’ve got to trust and understand one another. Here’s what you need to share:

  • Credit scores
  • Credit card statements
  • Bank statements
  • Debts
  • Assets
  • Monthly expenses

In order to share your financial past, you have to understand it yourself. Do some digging, share what you find, and keep encouraging each other!

Organize your present

Pastel signs and spring flowers point guests toward the weddingMarriage is a beautiful thing—it just happens to require a bit of paperwork. Not to worry: Half the battle is understanding what to adjust and who to update on your relationship status (beyond Facebook, of course).

  • Report name and address changes to:
    • The IRS
    • Your employer
    • The Social Security Administration
    • Your doctor
    • The State Department (if updating a passport)
    • Financial service providers (banks, loan holders, etc.)
    • Insurance agencies
  • Keep several certified copies of your marriage certificate on hand in case you are asked for it, and be prepared in case you don’t get copies back.
  • Review your W-4 and use the IRS Withholding Calculator to determine whether you want to adjust it.
  • Understand each other’s money personalities. Do you tend toward shopping sprees or dollar store groceries? Budgeting or spontaneity? Understanding now will help prevent mishaps later.
  • Set a discussion threshold for large purchases. What amount of money would require a discussion before being spent in one day or on one item?
  • Update your insurance beneficiaries to include your spouse.

Sounds like a lot to do—but there’s nothing like a movie, pizza, and cuddles after a long day of paperwork.

Build your future

Vintage car with  suitcases, a  bouquet of roses, and a “Just Married” signI mean, this is what marriage is all about, am I right? Time to look forward to the rest of your lives together by building a firm foundation for the years ahead.

  • Learn how to budget together to maximize your savings.
  • Make a financial goals plan: What do you want to save for? A vacation? Kids? A house so you can ditch the apartment?
  • It sounds morbid, but go ahead and set up a will. If you don’t, the government will handle everything you leave behind, so you want to make sure your spouse will be cared for if the worst should happen.

Love and respect

Money is a hard thing to talk about. Go easy on each other, but be sure to communicate your hopes, fears, and standards for financial management. Set up a time each month to talk about these things and remind yourselves that you’ve got each other’s back.

At the end of the day, support, respect, and, of course, love the daylights out of each other. If you’ve got those things for a foundation, you’re off to the best possible start.

Now you have these financial tips in hand, you’ll be able to truly enjoy that top tier of your wedding cake on your first anniversary—and no envelope glue in sight!

Next week: Confused about tax brackets?

If you’ve just gotten married, you’re probably going to be moving into a new tax bracket. What does that mean, and how do you adjust to your new tax requirements? We’ll walk you through it next week!

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