These days, men and women are choosing to marry later. According to the Census Bureau, the average marrying age is now 28, but some men and women are waiting even longer. Many folks who are getting married are already financially independent, which makes melding finances with their new spouse that much harder.
To help with the transition, AuWerter suggests creating three accounts: "his", "hers" and "ours" accounts. "You can pay household bills out of that joint account, and then each spouse has his or her own money to spend however they see fit without feeling like big brother is always watching," says AuWerter. If blending your finances feels stressful, go slowly at first. There's no need to rush - find a pace that works for you.
Also, be sure to put yourselves on a budget. "Marriage changes everything, including your cash flow. That can be particularly stressful right now when times are so tight," says AuWerter. She suggests tracking your spending for three months to figure out where your money goes. "Keep a money journal. Write down everything that you spend," says AuWerter. The results may surprise you, but should give you new insight on where you can trim your spending. Then, work out a budget to fit these new guidelines.
It's also important to review your insurance needs. Remember that just because you have money coming in now doesn't ensure that you'll always have cash on hand. Protect your income by looking into life insurance and disability insurance. Life insurance protects your family in the event of your death, but disability insurance offers protection in case you are injured and can't work. "Many folks do get this type of insurance through their employer, but it's often times not enough," says AuWerter. She suggests taking stock of your financial needs and getting a supplemental policy if your employer-funded disability insurance isn't enough to cover your expenses.
You'll also need to look over any paperwork that has a named beneficiary, such as your 401k, IRA, life insurance or brokerage accounts. You'll want to change the beneficiary to your new spouse. "Another thing to look at is, if you don't have a will, now is the time to do it," says AuWerter. It's important to remember that even if you seemingly don't have any assets, like a house or investments, you still need to name someone to take over your estate in the event of your death. While paperwork isn't fun, AuWerter adds that it is important to make it a priority.
Finally, schedule regular "State of our Finances" meetings. While money is often a taboo topic, good communication is the key to staying on track. "You want to see how you're doing now and also how you're doing saving for your financial goals, whatever they may be," says AuWerter.
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By Erin Petrun