Ready, Set, Married!
Planning a wedding is exciting. Heading out on the honeymoon is exciting. Cleaning up your money so getting hitched goes as smoothly as possible, not so much. Since getting married means merging your life with someone else’s, what better time is there to take a good look at what you’ve been doing with your money? A spit and polish here, a trim there and you’ll be in fine shape to integrate your money and your lives.
Just as it’s easy to accumulate a lot of junk in the junk drawer so, too, is it easy for singles to accumulate a lot of spending that’ll have no place in married money. Time to dump the stuff out of the drawer and decide what should be there and shouldn’t. Can you merge accounts to save on bank fees? Are there services you’re paying for that you seldom actually use? And what will you no longer need in your budget because you both don’t need to pay for the same thing?
Whatever you can trim from your spending, pour that money into your most expensive debt or into your emergency fund. You know that gym membership you never use? Dump it. Ditto the magazines, which pile up in the corner or that outrageous cable bill.
Don’t forget to update your wills and powers of attorney. A will becomes old news as soon as you marry unless it was made ‘in contemplation of marriage.’ Powers of attorney will let your new mate speak on your behalf if you become a drooling fool. No, it doesn’t happen automatically when you marry, you have to give your mate the right to speak for you.
This is also a great time to throw out old crap. As you go through your financial paperwork ask yourself these two questions:
Am I likely to need this again as a reference?
Am I obliged to hang onto this piece of paper just in case someone official starts asking questions?
If the answer is yes to either question the item gets filed. No and that paperwork joins the ranks of the recycled.
A great way to start a conversation on what you want to achieve together is to update your net worth statement so you can see what direction you're moving in. See some things that need fixing? Make a plan for how you’ll make things better together.
Now that one has become two, look at your insurance coverage to make sure it’s adequate and to eliminate any dual coverage. Raise your deductibles to save some money, and make sure you combine your coverage – home, car, life, disability – to get the very best deal possible. What made sense a few years ago when you put those policies in place may no longer work for you once you’re married.
Marriage means taking some time to adjusted your financial plan to reflect what’s new. How you will you manage your money as a couple? Do you have different priorities? How have you adjusted what you’re doing with your money to reflect what you’re doing in your life? Answer these questions and you’ll be ready to go!
Gail Vaz-Oxlade is the former host of Till Debt Do Us Part and Princess and the #1 bestselling author of books that have included Debt-Free Forever and Money Rules.