Stay on Top of Your Finances to live Happily Ever After.
by Judy Singer, Financial Planner at Ameriprise Financial
Now that you are a couple, it’s important to be honest with each other about your individual money habits. Together, set your goals and priorities. Consider performing a formal review of your finances early in your marriage, or even before the big day to help assure long-term marital harmony. With proper planning and mindfulness, you can indeed live happily ever after! The simple act of dedicating time to your financial matters can also help strengthen your resolve and overall long term organization, efficiency and likelihood of success in meeting your goals. Here are important tasks to tick off on your checklist:
- 1. Review spending and income. Be honest with each other regarding your individual spending patterns. Before marriage, did you normally spend all of your income or did you have and stick to a budget? Did any large, unexpected expenses throw you off? Plan to address the unexpected. Either increase your earnings, save more, or cut back on spending. If, on the other hand, you discover that you have more disposable income than you anticipated, come to agreement on what to do with the extra money. You can increase your savings, accelerate your schedule for a planned purchase, or both, but be sure to discuss it and then stick to your agreed plan.
- 2. Be honest about Debt. Put together a realistic plan to pay it off as quickly as possible.
- 3. Decide who will pay bills, and balance your check book(s). Every couple has a different way to handle this. So long as you both understand, agree and it works for you, it is fine. Just be sure that the non-bill paying spouse in kept in the loop.
- 4. Check your insurance coverage and costs. Reflect on whether you have the appropriate levels of insurance coverage in light of recent life events. A new marriage, a new home, new job or baby are all life events that warrant an insurance review. It’s also important to keep your beneficiaries up to date as the composition of your family changes. If your premiums are creeping up, it may be time to get quotes and switch to more affordable carriers.
- 5. Track your tax obligations. Be mindful of any events that affect your annual tax bill. Have you recently sold investments or a home? If so, it’s wise to set money aside to meet the tax obligation on the capital gains of the sale. Likewise, keep track of any capital losses you have incurred that may reduce your tax burden. In a related area, make sure you’ve selected the appropriate number of exemptions so your paycheck deductions are sufficient to cover your end-of-year taxes. If you’re self-employed, continue to make your quarterly estimated payments, making sure the amount paid reflects your actual earnings so you don’t end up owing an unwieldy amount at tax time.
- 6. Review all account ownership / titling by reviewing the name(s) listed on account statements and / or the tax filing documents issued for the prior tax year. Is your new spouse listed as a joint owner or as a beneficiary on nonretirement accounts? Also look for the same investment or stock held in different names.
- 7. Adjust your savings. If more money has come your way through earnings, inheritance or other happenstance, bump up the amount you contribute to savings. And if a new goal has cropped up—anything from replacing your car, to financing a remodel or accelerating your retirement—factor it into your savings plan.
- 8. Monitor retirement funds.If you have retirement plans, check to see that your assets are distributed in accordance with your risk tolerances. Be sure that your new spouse is listed as your beneficiary. Your financial advisor may recommend periodic rebalancing to optimize returns. If you do not have a retirement plan, start one and add to it faithfully.
These eight areas will help you be more disciplined and focused in your financial life. If this seems overwhelming, a financial advisor can help and provide valuable guidance to help you stay true to your monetary intentions…so then you truly can enjoy your happily ever after.
Judith C Singer, CRPC ® , is a Financial Advisor, Cooperrider & Associates, A financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Beachwood, Ohio. She specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for over 30 years. To contact her:
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.
3401 Enterprise Parkway Suite 105
Beachwood, OH 44122-7341
O: 216.464.5545 | F: 216.464.7624
Ameriprise Financial and its affiliates do not offer tax or legal advice. Consumers should consult with their tax advisor or attorney regarding their specific situation.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA and SIPC.
© 2016 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.