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Money talk is probably the last thing on your mind right after you get back from your honeymoon.
You might be thinking – you just got back from a romantic getaway with your spouse after your successful wedding that’s thoughtfully planned and splurged on. You’re not even done unboxing all of your wedding gifts. And now you’re going to talk about financial paperwork?
Well, sorry to say, but it’s got to be done. After all, money is one of the leading causes of divorce. Financial issues, no matter how daunting, should be discussed before they become bigger and more damaging in the relationship.
A blissful marriage isn’t measured on the number of date nights, romantic vacations, and lavish anniversary gifts. Couples who face financial hurdles together and overcome them together come out stronger than ever.
So if you’re ready to do some daunting financial tasks after the wedding, here are top 6 things you should do as a couple.
Have you decided to have a joint banking account and merge all of your finances for household spending? Or you want to keep your personal account? Or perhaps do both by having a shared account and a separate account for personal spending at the same time?
Whatever that is, make sure you’re both on the same track about this matter and do all the paperwork together.
Once you’re married, you should have each other’s names on all of your accounts. It’s also important to change your beneficiary information for those accounts: If it’s your first marriage your beneficiaries are likely your parents. If you’ve been married before, it’d be your ex.
Make sure to update it ASAP to avoid bigger and more expensive problems should anything bad happen to you.
“Til death do us part” or “Til debt do us part”?
Debt should be openly discussed and addressed as early as possible to avoid it to cause further damage to the relationship.
Get out the paperwork, provide copies of your own credit reports, look for the real bottom line, and deal with it. Debt catches up eventually – whether it’s the tax collector, your university, or creditor. One day, the terrifying details of the past will come creeping out when you’re trying to get a mortgage and other loans.
Not all money talk is bad. Some prudent men and women enter marriage with trust funds, investment accounts, real estate properties, and other significant assets. Your spouse should know what you have and what you can share unless you have a prenuptial agreement that excludes the spouse from any benefit. Again, beneficiary names should be updated.
Now that you’re married, looking at your paychecks and other income sources is just a right thing to do. You’re a team here, remember?
It’s crucial to determine your combined monthly income and how it’ll affect your spending and savings.
Make a detailed budget out of the combined list of all your monthly expenses: housing, utilities, internet, cable, phone, groceries, car payments, leisure, and other routine costs. Plan for payments on debts too. Last but not least, make sure to have a budget for unexpected expenses that may come up, like home repair and medical bills.
Odds are that, you’ve splurged on your wedding and your honeymoon. YYour first year together is the perfect time to recoup those losses and continue saving up for the future.
Don’t forget to feed your savings account – together. We can all agree that having a financial cushion for emergencies and retirement is a must.
You can fuel your savings by finding ways to be frugal. You may limit nights out and put your focus on groceries and rent. Be wise when going on vacations. Set limits for internet, cable, and electricity use. It’s more fun to celebrate your first year of marriage without overindulging.
Communication is key to a successful marriage, especially in terms of money. Couples who discuss money matters, set financial goals and help each other achieve them tend to be happier and healthier than those who don’t.
Take the time to sit down with your spouse to talk about money – your short-term and long-term goals and your plans to make these goals a reality. Discuss where you want to be in five years. Are you planning to build a business? Will you buy stocks or other investment vehicles? Will one or both of you work abroad? Do you have a plan to level up on your career?
Talk about money handling practices and expectations. Are you guilty of poor spending habits? Do you plan to quit certain expensive vices? How often do you plan to go on vacations?
Talk about future expenses that will eventually arrive, including children’s education, buying your first home, your first car, and the emergency and retirement funds.
I know these things may be too much to talk about, especially if you’re just starting your life together. However, it’s great to be open about these things and to know that you and your partner are on the same track.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for The Relationship Room, a couples psychology institution specializing in relationship counseling and therapies for couples and families. She may be hopeless romantic but she’s got some straightforward pieces of advice about love, dating, and relationships
While many of us never intend to get divorced, unfortunately it’s true that many marriages do break down and there is no choice but to file for legal separation.
In fact, there are around 118,000 divorces every year in the UK, with almost half of these occurring in the first 10 years of marriage.
Despite this, a recent survey by Partnership has revealed that getting divorced is one of the biggest financial regrets in the UK. A survey of 40 – 70 year olds found that it was the 3rd biggest financial regret (13%) behind not saving enough (36%) and not saving enough into a pension (25%).
What is interesting though, is that the number is lower for those aged between 40 and 50 (8%), but increases for those at pension age (16% between 50 and 70 years of age). The number of those who regret not paying into a pension also rises to 29% in retirement age, as people realise that they may not receive the expected amount from an annuity as they originally thought.
There is supposedly a rise in ‘silver divorces’ as couples retire and have to spend more time together than they are used to; cracks begin to show and the relationship can start to break down leading to divorce.
It is never worth staying in an unhappy marriage, for your own sanity more than anything else. With this in mind, we’ve looked at the ways in which you can keep your costs down as you go through divorce proceedings.
Always take your time when thinking about what lawyer to use; not only will emotions (either angry or upset) cloud your judgement, you’ll be able to figure out what sort of legal aid you require, what your options are, and what questions you need to ask. Also, changing your lawyer part way through will have major financial implications, as you’ll have to start the process again from scratch.
To keep costs to a minimum, be well prepared before any meetings or phone conversations. Wasting time asking things that you can find out beforehand will end up costing you more in the long run.
Listing your financial assets for example, can be a lengthy process so if you can figure this out on your own beforehand, it’s less time and money spent with a lawyer. Asking questions via email can also be more helpful, as it’s generally quicker and you have a paper trail of all correspondence too.
A tax specialist and financial planner will advise you of any tax implications, particularly if there’s a decent amount of money at stake. They’ll also provide you with tips for minimising any of the tax costs.
If there is a pension involved – either an existing annuity or funds in income drawdown – they will be able to advise you further on your available options.
It’s essential to keep your emotions in check when going through a divorce, as not doing so could lead to you making heated decisions that could have financial implications.
Many couples and up fighting over things that don’t really matter to them, purely out of principle (and, let’s face it: spite). Plus, the more you argue, the more money you’ll be spending on your lawyers.
It also always pays to settle out of court. A litigated divorce (when a judge gets involved) can be hugely expensive.
Try to come to an agreement with your ex without involving lawyers, and you’ll cut down the time (and cost) you spend with them.