Good Financial Steps to Take When You Get Married

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   “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28).

   Are you marrying soon? Have you recently married?  As you begin life together, It’s important to begin planning a financial future together and aligning your finances as a couple. Consider these priorities that may be worth adding your financial to-do list:

• Plan for retirement. There is a possibility that decades from now, many of us who are currently saving and investing for the future might end up millionaires. Actually, we may need to become millionaires. 

   Why? According to current Social Security Administration projections, today’s 65-year-old retiree is looking at a retirement of approximately 20 years. The average 65-year-old man is projected to live until age 84, and the average 65-year-old woman, to age 87. Some of these people will live past 100 – many more years than in previous generations.(1)

   Given ongoing advances in health care, what could be your longevity? Living to be 90 or 100 might be commonplace for members of Gen X and Gen Y. Factor inflation’s effect into the cost of goods and services, and you may see a future scenario where an enjoyable retirement necessitates $100,000 yearly. This possibility means you’ll want to make saving for retirement a high priority.

   “Whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.”  (Proverbs 13:11).

   Because one spouse is often more risk averse than the other, it’s necessary to agree on your investment approach, preferably with the help of a financial professional who can help determine how much money you’ll need for life goals and financial objectives. 

• Manage debt. Many go through life shouldering five- and six-figure debts. When couples marry, the danger is that one spouse’s debt will be viewed as “his debt” or “her debt.” Arguments can start because “your debt” is hurting “us.” 

   Debt management must be a priority for any married couple. There are debts which typically lead to a positive result, such as a mortgage; however, there are other debts based on credit card use and other channels which usually do not benefit long-term. 

   “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”  (Hebrews 13:8).

• Live within your means. An established, mutually-agreed-upon budget can be very helpful. People have different levels of thrift and perceptions of what constitutes a “bargain.” This gap can result in interesting financial moments in your life when your spouse purchases a “bargain” that you consider an extravagance.

   “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5).

• Save for college. If you plan to raise children, it’s never too soon to start. Invest a little at a time on a regular basis. Open a college savings account with equity or low-risk investment options. A 529 plan can offer fine tax breaks. 

• Insure yourself.  If you’re under 40, you may not have any kind of disability or life insurance. Purchasing a policy early can be cost efficient and buying a term life (or even a permanent life policy) when you are young and healthy can result in less expensive premiums. 

• Communicate to avoid surprises. No matter how much a couple becomes a “we,” there is always some need for private space, individual pursuits and “me time.” Regarding your shared financial life, however, this is probably not the best approach. A spouse who hides a money-related matter or omits it from conversations opens the door to troubles. Frank conversations about money are the best way to avoid problems in your finances and in your relationship.

• Build an emergency fund. Too many couples live on margin. Consider building a cash reserve that you can tap into should things get rough. You won’t regret it.

   “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24).   

Submitted by Patrick Wallschlaeger, CEO, Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd., a Registered Investment Advisor.  You can write to him at 2610 Stewart Ave. Suite 100 Wausau, WI 54401, or call him at 1-800-236-6775.  
   Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Securities products involving commission or transaction based fees are offered through Comprehensive Asset Management and Servicing, Inc. (“CAMAS”), 2001 Hwy 46, Ste. 506, Parsippany, NJ 07054, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of CAMAS.  
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