Will you raise your kids with a particular religion, will you both register with the same political party and how will you arrange reception seating to ensure your new mother-in-law is content with who is at her table and where she will sit? Getting married generates no shortage of opportunities to have important conversations with your spouse-to-be.
Maybe you can postpone or even dodge altogether some of those talks, but at least one potentially challenging conversation can actually help ensure your marital bliss down the road -- the talk about finances. Numerous polls and studies have shown that money is one of the top reasons couples fight, that it generates more stress in a marriage than almost any topic other than children and is a deciding factor in a large percentage of breakups.
Making sure you're both on the same financial page before the wedding can help ensure that post "I do" money talks will be less divisive and stressful. And, the good news is that establishing a sound financial footing for the future is not nearly as complicated as you might fear.
The financial experts at SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Company offer some advice:
Start with a budget
If you've lived alone as a single for a while, you may already have your own budget, but now you are balancing income and expenses for two people. If you combine your income and expenses, you'll need to combine your budgets too.
Write down everything each of you spends every month, taking into account housing, food, utilities, transportation, student loans, credit card balances, car payments, taxes, and nonessential spending. Next, consider what your financial goals are -- do you want to save for a down payment on a house? Are you content to rent and instead focus on paying down revolving debt? Once you determine what your shared goals are, you can adjust your budget accordingly, reducing spending on nonessential items and focusing on spending that moves you toward your overall financial goal.
Establish an emergency fund
One reason so many families and couples suffered greatly in this recession was because they had little or no emergency funds set aside. An emergency fund helps ensure that you and your partner are secure should something happen, like one of you loses a job or experiences a serious health issue. Agree on how much you want to save for "a rainy day;" experts advise you should save 5 to 10 percent of your income in a joint savings account.
Pay yourself first by having cash for your emergency fund directly withdrawn from your paycheck or checking account and deposited in your savings account. Aim to accrue three to six months of living expenses in your emergency fund.
Life insurance is crucial
If you're young, single, in good health and debt-free, you may not need life insurance. For virtually everyone else, and especially newlyweds who have taken on new responsibilities and often new debt, life insurance is a must, experts agree. Life insurance can give you peace of mind that your loved ones will have sufficient money to take care of themselves should anything happen to you -- and it's affordable. To learn how to create a budget, to access a variety of financial tools or to learn more about life insurance go to www.sbliusa.com. For a free, no-obligation quote go to pg.sbliusa.com/specialoffer/ppc/mat/ or call (866) 331-3078 to speak with an SBLI USA representative. Even better, go to www.sbliusa.com to complete the entire application process -- from quoting, to paying - online today.
Make a plan -- together
Write down your mutual financial goals. Your plan should be specific and realistic, listing the actual steps you will take to achieve your goals, including buying a home, starting a family, taking vacations and saving for retirement. Decide what additional investments you'll make apart from your regular savings, such as maximizing your 401(k) or IRA contributions.
Be sure to include tracking your expense and income, as well as your tax burden, in your overall plan. Decide what tax filing status will be best for you, and consult a tax advisor if you're not sure.
Credit card debt is the top obstacle to a secure financial future and a major stressor in a marriage. Knowing your credit scores is essential; check them annually with all three major credit bureaus. Scrutinize your reports and correct any errors that could affect your ability to get a loan at a desirable interest rate in the future.
Money talk doesn't have to be difficult. With a little strategy and the right attitude, you can build the financial security you need to secure a successful, happy life together
Courtesy of ARAcontent© 2010 ARAContent
The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal, financial, or medical professional.