Now that you are back from your amazing Honeymoon and the wedding planning is over, I have a few items to fill up that newly found free time. It is time to get back to work, off of Instagram, and get organized for your new life together as a married couple.
Organizing Your Finances: My first piece of advice is for anyone, married or single. Please write down your usernames and passwords for all your investment accounts, retirement accounts, utility payments, credit cards, bank accounts, and any other login website. If you are single, tell your sibling or other family member where your accounts are located and who to call if you pass away. Otherwise, they will have to follow the statement paper trail each month or quarter to find where all your money is. Decide on a filing system for all your important documents where both spouses can find them easily or a family member if you aren’t married. The documents I am referring to are your wills, tax returns, investment, bank, credit card, and retirement account statements and logins. One couple found a suitcase full of treasury bills; they were worth in total over $100,000. It was a good thing they checked the suitcase before selling it on eBay.
Estate Planning: If you have children, will have them soon, or if you own a business, please meet with an estate attorney. I do NOT recommend using your real estate attorney. Your real estate attorney might be cheaper, but remember you get what you pay for. You will probably have to redo your wills and pay more money in total than if you used an estate attorney to begin with. The estate lawyer can draft your wills, power of attorneys, and living wills, and help you leave your loved ones with a properly set up estate. They will feel very fortunate you did this, and it is a way to continue to take care of them when you are no longer here.
Insurance: Life insurance is like estate planning, no one ever wants to think about it or plan for it. And I don’t blame them. Most likely once you are married, you will want your spouse to maintain your standard of living if you pass away. Or maybe not, but you might have a problem with your spouse if that is the case. This is where life insurance can be a very valuable tool to use. There are all different types of life insurance, from term insurance, which is inexpensive to permanent insurance, which is more costly. If you currently have life insurance, you should update your beneficiary designations. After reviewing your life insurance needs, remember to look into your disability insurance. The cost of care for a disability is huge, and I’m sure it isn’t a cost you can cover on one income. You might have some disability insurance through work, so check to see how much of your income would be covered if you become disabled. If you haven’t insured your engagement ring, you might want to do so immediately. If you are renting, you can add it to your renters insurance, and if you own a house, you can add it to your home owners insurance. Make sure you ask the insurance company if the ring is covered while you are traveling. Sometimes, if you are looking for cheap coverage, your policy will have limits on what it will cover. I’ve heard too many nightmare stories about their ring getting lost or stolen.
Health Insurance: One benefit of being married is the ability to go on your spouse’s health insurance plan. Something I always joke about with my husband, I married him for his health insurance. Before you take this leap, check to see if it is more cost effective to join his plan or to stay on yours. See how much more it will cost your spouse to be on his plan versus how much it costs for your plan through work.
Separate Property vs Marital Property: Any money you saved prior to the wedding is considered separate property. However, if you start commingling that money into joint accounts or to a house jointly owned, then the money becomes marital property. It is too late for a pre-nuptial agreement at this point since you are already married, but you can still keep the asset or money separate. This is especially important if you own a business or have a family inheritance. If you remember in my post about my grandfather’s remarriage, all of my grandfather’s heirlooms went to his second wife, not to his children.
Debt: We talked about debt, and how to pay off your loans two postings ago, but you still need to continually check your credit score every year. You can go onto www.annualcreditreport.com to get more information on your credit score and what to look for. One important reason to check your credit report and history is to make sure there isn’t any false credit information on your report. If your new husband is a spendthrift, make sure to keep your credit cards separate or at least until he gets it under control. You don’t want to be the latest gossip to be about your spouse opening a PO Box to hide the credit card statements and debt. The largest amount of hidden debt our firm has heard of was $300,000 with all the credit card statements going to a secret PO Box. You’d be dragging that baggage along with you for way too long.
Financial Goals: You should sit down at least once a year to put together your financial goals, both short term and long term. Then prioritize them to see which one to tackle first. Should you pay off your student loan debt or your wedding debt first? You can put together a budget and see where your cash flow or paychecks are going each month. Put in your budget retirement plan savings along with emergency fund savings. You don’t want all your money going to your dog’s new toys, guilty, or to your nails before any of it is being saved.
Jessica Weaver, CFP®, CDFA™, CFS®
The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Jessica Weaver and not necessarily those of Raymond James
The information provided in these materials does not constitute any legal, tax or accounting advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for this type of advice.
 Wedding debt is not something I recommend. Spending thousands of dollars for your Jimmy Choo shoes, though you will be very stylish, might not be the best investment for your money.