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Published on May 14, 2020 | Webster Bank
Joining your lives together means joining your financial lives, too. You see one future with many goals. But each of you comes to a marriage with different spending habits, different attitudes about debt, and the unique assets youÕve accumulated so far in life.
Some couples find their way by trial and error, but having a conversation about money can be your first step toward financial harmony. These questions might help:
ItÕs simpler to merge your accounts, of course. But you may want to have one account for household expenses you shareÑrent, food, insurance, etc.Ñand keep separate accounts for discretionary income. That way, when you want a new guitar and your partner wants the latest smartphone, you wonÕt put stresses on the funds allocated for your essentials.
Agree upon a monthly budget for household expenses.
Your credit scores may be considerably different, and that can play into future decisions Ð for example, your ability to get a good mortgage rate when youÕre ready to buy a home. If one of you has a lower score, thatÕs something you can work on together: Paying bills on time is the #1 way to improve a credit score.
Three credit bureausÑExperian, TransUnion and EquifaxÑgather your credit information and compile your credit reports, which then determine your credit score.
Errors on your credit reports are more common than you might think. More than one in five consumers have Òa potentially material errorÓ in their credit file, reports CNBCÑa mistake that makes them seem like a bigger risk than they actually are.
Get free copies of your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com and check for errors. Challenge any mistakes with the credit bureau providing it. Filing a dispute isnÕt difficult and it doesnÕt cost you anything. Each credit bureau has its own easy steps to follow. Find them here:
ThatÕs likely, considering that 45 million Americans owe over $1.56 trillion in student loan debt, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve. You may have taken on debt when you were a student with big dreams but few assets. Now that youÕre working, lenders consider you a better riskÑso you may be able to refinance your loans at a better rate.
One of the surest ways to love and honor your spouse is to provide for the ÒworseÓ as well as the better. That means reviewing the basics: life and disability insurance. If you have existing policies, update your beneficiary information. If you donÕt have insurance, now is a great time to protect your loved oneÕs future. Also, look into a health savings account, which lets you put away pre-tax dollars for eligible health expenses, now or down the road.
Schedule an insurance review.
No? YouÕre not alone. According to Caring.com, the number of Americans that have a will has decreased 25% since 2017. Plan now to relieve unnecessary estate planning issues for your heirs.
See an attorney about a will and estate plan.
Do either of you have an IRA, 401(k), investment account, property or other assets that require a named beneficiary? Now that youÕll have a new spouse, you may consider updating all your beneficiary information.
Review your beneficiary designations.
Once youÕve handled steps 1 through 6, youÕre ready to plan for whateverÕs next. Perhaps itÕs buying a home or putting aside money for a college fund. Certainly, itÕs saving for retirement. That includes planning for long-term care, one of the biggest drains on retirement security.
Schedule a retirement planning session.
Before you say ÒI do,Ó get these steps done and youÕll be on the road to a happily ever after with fewer bumps along the way.