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Finances for Two: Newlyweds and Money

June is a popular time for weddings, and it’s important that newlyweds get off on the right foot as far as their finances are concerned. A total of 84 percent of couples said that money causes arguments in their marriages, according to a Money magazine survey.

But taking the right steps now can save a lot of tension and disagreement later, according to the California Society of CPAs (www.calcpa.org). Here are some recommendations for getting the right start financially.

BE HONEST

To avoid unexpected surprises, talk before you tie the knot about each person’s financial situation. A marriage is sure to get off to a rocky start if one spouse learns that the other has thousands of dollars in debt or earns far less than he or she had claimed. Your spouse will find out your financial secrets at some point, so it’s best to reveal them before marriage so that both people enter the union with realistic expectations.

SHARE YOUR DREAMS

It’s also important to be candid about your financial hopes so that you’re sure your spouse shares them. There could be disagreements down the road if one spouse is aspiring to a luxury lifestyle while the other has a more low-key approach in mind.

Sit down together before the wedding and have a truthful discussion about your income, your assets and liabilities and plans for the future. Talk also about how you will make financial decisions in the future and how you will handle regular bookkeeping and investment planning. Understanding each other now will cut down on disagreements later.

GET YOUR DOCUMENTS IN ORDER

Marriage triggers several changes that should be reflected in key financial paperwork. For example, you may want to add your new spouse as the beneficiary for your insurance policies, 401(k) plan, individual retirement account, investment and savings account or any other assets. If you are taking your spouse’s name, make sure the name change is made on your Social Security card, driver’s license and other identification, as well as on insurance policies and bank or retirement accounts. 

REVIEW YOUR INSURANCE

A newly married couple may find that their combined insurance leaves them with too much or too little coverage in some areas. If you are moving into a new home or combining households, assess your homeowner’s or renter’s policy to make sure it fully covers your new location. Look into each spouse’s health insurance, as well, to see if one policy is cheaper and if it can be used to cover both spouses.

This is also a good time to begin analyzing your life insurance options to ensure that each spouse is well provided for and that you have chosen the policy that best suits your needs.

LOOK TO THE FUTURE

To set a sound foundation for your future, create a budget immediately that is based on your newly combined incomes and monthly expenses, and stick to it. A realistic budget can help you avoid financial problems and disappointments down the road. It’s also a great tool to use when setting your near- and long-term financial goals.
And, as you begin your new life together, don’t forget to write or update your wills. This step will ensure that there are no unnecessary delays with inheritances later.

YOUR CPA CAN HELP

Smart financial planning can help contribute to a long and happy marriage. Turn to your CPA for advice on any important financial questions.

To listen to podcasts with more financial tips, go to http://www.calcpa.org/Content/community/financialempowerment.aspx.

 

Produced in cooperation with the AICPA
©2007 The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants