The gift of cash awaits many newlyweds.
While you and your spouse may have the urge to have fun burning through that fat bundle, try to resist the temptation to spend it all. Having a little fun is OK, but take this opportunity to start off your marriage on the right financial track.
Mikel Van Cleve, a USAA Certified Financial PlannerTM and Advice Director, says starting things off on the right path financially can help build not only a solid financial foundation, but also a solid marriage. “How couples handle their finances can mean the difference between long-term happiness and marital conflict,” he says.
Here are four steps to help make sure that you start your shared life on sound financial footing:
- Communicate. This is, by far, the most important step — and the one that can cause the most issues if ignored. Your conversation about what to do with the wedding cash should be the first of many about personal finance. Learn each other’s “money personality.” Is your partner a spender or a saver? Knowing this can help you establish joint financial goals.
- Stockpile cash. Ideally, couples should have three to six months of living expenses in an emergency fund. Newlyweds should consider starting with at least $1,000. Regardless of the amount, the most important thing is to commit to saving together and stay after it. If both people in the marriage are not committed to the goal, it can make saving very difficult.
- Eliminate debt. If either of you are coming into the marriage with some debt, take this opportunity to wipe the slate clean, or at least make a dent. Pay them down, focusing on the highest interest rate first.
- Save for big things. Set some money aside for any major expenses planned within the next three years. This could include a down payment on a vehicle or even purchasing your first home together.
In addition to managing your wedding cash, be sure to update beneficiaries on retirement plans, insurance policies and other legal documents. If you don’t already have insurance policies or legal documents in place, now is a great time to do so to help protect your loved one. Military personnel also should update Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System records.
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Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.
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