I got serious about my money when I proposed to my wife nine years ago. Saving for the engagement ring was a big deal, and I knew we would have a lot of upcoming expenses as we started to plan for our wedding. Fortunately, my wife and I were on the same page, but there are many couples out there who don’t have the money talk before tying the knot.
I understand that talking about the finances with your partner can be tricky, but once you get married, you really don’t have a choice. Many things should be considered joint, and if you treat everything as separate expenses, then you may run into trouble later.
Here are 4 financial must do’s after getting married:
Figure out your financial goals
You would that that if you married someone, you would know their goals, but that’s not always the case. It usually makes sense to look at this from a technical standpoint. For example, if one of you currently has outstanding credit card debt, it makes the most sense to pool your resources to pay that off as soon as you can.
Even if you don’t have any debt between the two of you, it’s important to figure out what things you want to save for and when you’ll need that money. Maybe you want to buy a home right away, or perhaps you want to travel the world before settling down. Talk to each other and come up with a list of things that matter to each of you before coming with a plan.
Update your benefits and beneficiaries
Okay, so this rarely on the top of any newlywed’s priority list, but it’s pretty important to update your benefits and beneficiaries right away. Why? Every employer has a different policy; some require to add your spouse or child within 30 days of your life event. If you don’t do it within that time, you may have to do additional paperwork later to get them added.
Adding your spouse to your benefits has . . . well it has benefits. They’ll instantly be able to make claims on your drug plan which should reduce any out of pocket expenses they were paying before. Keep in mind that when you add a spouse, you’ll like be switching to a family benefits plan with your employer which means you’ll probably start paying higher premiums for the benefit.
You’ll also want to update your beneficiary to your spouse in case anything were to happen to you. You’ll also want to set a contingent beneficiary in the event you and your spouse pass at the same time. I know it sounds morbid, but it’s something that needs to be done.
Decide on how you want to manage bank accounts
There’s no right or wrong way when deciding on bank accounts; you just need a system that works for you. My wife and I each have our own individual accounts, but we also have one joint account which we use to pay any joint expenses. Speaking of expenses, make sure you designate someone that always pays the bills do you don’t get dinged with any late charges.
Don’t forget to talk about your investment portfolios too. Now is a good time to check on your investments to see if they still fit your profile. Although investments tend to be individual mostly, you could use joint money to maximize certain accounts such as your RRSP or TFSA.
After getting married, much of the above is likely to be low on your priority list, but it all needs to be done. The good thing is, everything just takes a few minutes to take care of. That being said, the money talk is not a one and done thing. Talk to your partner on a regular basis so you’re always on the same page.