If your dream wedding is back on the calendar after an extremely difficult 2020, congratulations are in order!
Here are some must-have conversations to have about spending, saving, getting insurance and investing for the future with your partner to help start your new financial life together as stress-free as possible.
Marriage or Mortgage?
The Netflix show Marriage or Mortgage features couples who agree to choose either a new home and the mortgage that would come with it, or their dream wedding, which would give them a lifetime of memories with family and friends.
Both choices bring out strong emotions in the couples, who learn a lot about each other’s priorities when it comes to money.
The Drill: Pretend you and your love are on the show and have to choose.
The mortgage sounds appealing, but remember, homeownership comes with an ongoing list of financial obligations. That said, you do get to own a home and have the financial stability, tax benefits, and other upsides of being homeowners.
On the other hand, the wedding would be a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime moment that you will never get back. We’ve learned from the pandemic so much about having celebrations when we can. But remember that when the party’s over, you go back to living wherever you were living. You would not have the money for the down payment — but you also won’t have the financial responsibilities of property ownership.
See how the conversation plays out. You will learn a lot about each other.
Know the Score
Many couples get engaged and don’t know as much as they should about their partner’s finances, including their credit score.
Now is the time to share that and more. But it may not be the time to go all-in on merging your credit cards.
Initially, it may make sense to keep your credit separate. There’s no rush to make decisions on this. As time goes on and you have joint purchases, combining them could make sense.
Another reason to stay separate after you are officially together is if one partner has a less-than-ideal score. On this note, it might be smart to at least initially keep a financial identity separate from your spouse in case you need to buy something independently in the future.
Closing old accounts in an effort to streamline your finances is not the best way to streamline your overall credit card situation. It only lowers your available credit, which impacts your credit utilization ratio. It also often shortens your credit history and can hurt your credit score. Just because you have a credit card does not mean you have to actively use it. Check the level of activity required to keep a card active, and consolidate the rest of your spending on the cards that work best for you.
If one spouse has an expensive card with lots of perks, it may make sense to add the other spouse to that same card, even if there’s an additional fee, if the benefits justify using that card for joint expenses.
Decide together what expenses go on each card that you have, and how they will get paid. Be specific about who is responsible for going through and checking that all the charges are accurate and discussing any spending that is not on track for your financial goals.
Payment history makes up the largest percentage — 35% — of a person’s credit score, and late payments are one of the biggest causes of a lower credit score. If paying your credit card bills on time is hurting your credit score, an app like Tally can help automate your payments into one bill and one due date with late fee protection. It can also you paydown any debt you’re carrying in the most efficient way and lower your interest rate if you qualify.1
The Life Insurance Talk (Ouch!)
After the big day, you will both be financial stakeholders in each other’s lives. So should the unthinkable happen, you don’t want money stress to be top of mind. You want your partner to know they are taken care of financially. It’s a tough conversation to have, but unfortunately, it’s generally accepted as the best way to see to this.
Life insurance is not as confusing as it sounds. If you only want financial protection should your spouse or you pass away, you probably only need term life insurance. All the other ones you might be told to consider like whole life, variable and universal contain investment features. We’ll get to investing next.
Think forward 20 to 30 years. What big expenses could you have? A non-working spouse? Kids? A home? College tuition? Buying life insurance now that will cover all of that is typically more affordable if you are relatively young and healthy. If you feel you can’t afford all the insurance you need, get what you can afford now so you have enough coverage for the near term, with a longer-term policy, can potentially lock in a low rate. You can always buy an additional policy later to add to the benefit, even though going back to purchase additional coverage as you get older will typically be pricey.
Investing for Your Future
Give yourselves something to celebrate in the future by getting started in investing.
Instead of talking about trendy stocks and the latest financial gimmicks, first sit down together to talk about your risk levels and investment goals.
Start with making sure you’re maximizing any “free money” through work including retirement plans like 401(k)s and stock option plans that have added benefits for employees. Make sure you fully understand the costs and tax impacts of these.
Also make sure you have a solid emergency fund, as well as money put away for those inevitable unexpected expenses and short-term goals like upcoming trips and weddings you plan to attend.
When it comes to where and how to invest, consider this breakdown in terms of risk:
- Low-risk investments include things like savings accounts or CDs, where you’re less likely to lose any money you put in.
- Medium-risk investments translate into low-cost index funds.
- High-risk investments typically mean purchasing individual stocks or other complex stocks (typically managed by a professional).
- Gambling-level risk investments include buzz terms like crypto-currency, NFTs and stocks you may have read about on Reddit. People talk about the quick gains, but it’s just as easy to lose all the money you put in.
By framing your investment strategy in terms of risk, you can figure out what’s best for your situation without the pressures of market trends.
After the talk, the walk down the aisle will hopefully be happy, healthy, and stress-free. Enjoy the big day and all the celebrations to come in your future together!
Want to walk down the aisle free of debt? Tally may be able to help you cut through credit card debt faster while saving money on interest.
1To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. Based on your credit history, the APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% – 29.99% per year. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Tally Technologies, Inc. NMLS # 1492782 (nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law License or other laws in your state.