First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a whole lot financial planning to prepare for that baby in a baby carriage.
Well, baby or not...studies show that financial bliss plays a huge role in marital bliss. There are a few things you and your loved one may want to discuss to make sure you're on the same page before tying the knot.
1. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BASE
First make sure you know each other’s financial history. Debts, savings, investing accounts, credit reports etc. It’s important to know your current financial situation regardless of whether you decide to combine bank accounts. Sometimes these can be tough conversations to have and it may help to attend a financial seminar together to get the conversation started. Or find an advisor who is willing to do a consult and can help mediate the discussion together while providing some advice and insights.
2. DREAM, DREAM, DREAM
Take some time to discuss the life you both dream of together. It may sound lofty to dream big but with a sensible plan in place, there's no reason you can achieve whatever your sights are set on. Also, create goals with a timeline in mind (maybe to buy your first house together in 3 years, or take a great vacation every year) and begin to build a concrete plan that you can stick to. How much can you save each month, each year and how much can you spend together?
The 20/50/30 Rule is a great place to start.
20/You've heard it, pay yourself first. Use 20% of your take-home pay to handle debt and/or contributing to your future self (IRA, SEP, Insurance Premiums)
50/Aim to keep your fixed-living expenses at no more than 50% of your take-home (this is after taxes and tax-deferred contributions)
30/Spend no more than 30% of your net income on variable expenses like travel (including gas), dinners out, golf, etc.
3. YOU CAN STAND UNDER MY UMBRELLA
We consider the Rainy Day fund critical for any couple. We all know #@$T happens. It’s easier to get through the tough times together if money doesn’t add to the stress of the situation. We’ve covered in previous articles how much you should set aside (usually 3 months of your fixed living expenses) but regardless of the amount, set up this account and don’t touch it until you absolutely need to.
4. MONEY ON MY MIND
At Stash, we don't believe in insurance for the sake of insurance - there really has to be a need for it (someone is dependent on your income, you have a mortgage, etc). Even if you don't need it yet, it's a good idea to begin discussing it so you'll have an idea of what you may need: renters/homeowners insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, etc. Estimate the amount you need, compare coverage. Don’t be afraid to ask an expert to help you answer some of these questions. A good plan begins with a protection strategy conversation because it's cheapest when you don't need it (and the sooner the better). Unfortunately, those companies bank on the fact that you don't have a plan - that's when they make their money. Right now, the odds are still in your favor and you are a low risk to them so you can buy your coverage cheap(er).
5. DO YOU LIKE PIÑA COLADAS?
Use time to your advantage and start investing in your future-selves. Retirement may be a long way off but remember that the income you earn today needs to supply an income for your future non-income earning years. How do you see your life panning out? Are either or both of you thinking of starting your own business? Do you want to retire in the conventional sense or will you transition to something new? We agree it's difficult to have these conversations when you've barely begun your life together but at least get the conversation started! It will provide a lot of clarity on how to adjust your life today to always maintain freedom to choose your own way.