These tips can help you start your marriage finances on the right foot.
They say money doesn’t buy happiness, but when it comes to your marriage, just talking about money goes a long way. To start the conversation, here is a list designed to help you and your partner budget happily ever after.
Road to marriage
Get a financial checkup
Before marriage, many couples put off talking about money, but that lack of knowledge can be very risky; Past mistakes can affect your future together. Before arriving at the altar, find out what the financial situation of each one is, for example, how many credit cards each one has and how they spend their money; including the kinds of quirks they have. Having a good grasp of your partner’s spending habits and financial situation will help you make decisions about how to combine your money after you get married.
Understand your partner’s debt
Familiarize yourself with your partner’s debt before combining your finances. If necessary, you can work together to lower your debt. Until that happens, keep your finances separate. For example, try to avoid opening a joint account, signing as a joint signer, or adding your partner as an authorized user. If wedding bells are already ringing in your future, you’ll want to have at least a good credit history to support you. Learn more strategies for paying off debt.
Save for and after the wedding
Once you announce your commitment, open a savings account for your financial goals and future expenses. Generally speaking, many experts recommend saving at least 10 percent of your combined income each month. In case you are putting something aside for a wedding, you might need to consider expanding that sum so you can keep on adding to your ordinary reserve funds while setting aside cash for the big event. Even if you are getting help paying for the wedding, you may want to save something for a honeymoon or a down payment on a new home.
Make a budget that you can both meet
Assemble every one of your bills and records and put everything on the table. Calculate how much you will have to pay each month, how much income you will have together, and how much you will have leftover at the end of all the bills. Don’t forget to consider any possible wedding or honeymoon expenses. Also, it helps to set spending limits. Before making these vows, agree on a set amount of money that each of you can spend without consulting the other.
Decide who is going to handle what
When it comes to managing your finances, it’s a good idea to get both of you involved. For example, one person may take care of everyday accounts, while the other deals with long-term investments and retirement plans.
After the big day
To combine or not to combine?
There are several ways to manage money in marriage. So, consider your options and see which method works best for both of you. They may want to consider opening a joint account, linking their accounts, or continuing with separate accounts. It’s a personal decision, so consider your options and decide which one best suits your lifestyle.
Update your beneficiaries
Once you get married, you can name your spouse as the beneficiary (the person who gets the money and benefits if something happens to you). This applies to things like life insurance, 401 (k) plans, your will, and other benefits that your spouse may qualify for.
Change your tax withholding
Married couples can decide to file taxes jointly or separately, so talk with your spouse and your tax professional about what is best for you. Next, gather your W-4 forms and review your payroll withholding. You may need to adjust it. Do you need help to understand it? Use the Internal Revenue Service calculator (offered in English only).
Have a financial date night
Talking about money should be a healthy and constant conversation. There is no reason to wait for something to go wrong. So each month schedule time to assign additional money-related tasks, discuss future financial decisions, and see how you have progressed toward your goals.
Inform your bank if the name is changed
If you are considering changing your name when you get married, be aware that the process varies by state. Don’t forget that you will also need to make the change to all of your bank and investment accounts. Call or visit your bank, or look on the website for the process to follow.
If you are a Bank of America customer, you will need to present a government-issued photo ID, as well as your marriage certificate, at any Bank of America® financial center. One of our specialists will give you the forms you need to fill out and help you get a new debit or credit card. If you don’t live near a financial center, contact Customer Service at 800.432.1000.