Christmas is a very popular time for proposals. Maybe you’re popping the question soon, or maybe you’ve already started planning the wedding. Picked out the rings, maybe even the venue … either way, things are now rolling toward your Big Day. But don’t forget an important element of your new life together: getting your financial lives in sync. Talking about finances with your fiancé or partner may not seem like the most romantic topic, but what better way is there to show your loved one how committed you are to a lifetime of happiness together? Here’s how to get started:
1. Have “the talk.” Tell each other where your key financial information (like checking, savings, and investment accounts, mortgages, insurance, etc.), and important non-financial information and valuables (like birth/marriage certificates, titles/deeds for house/cars, jewelry, safe deposit key, etc.) are located. It’s important to understand each other’s financial dreams and plans, so that you know exactly what to do in any unforeseen situation.
2. Meld your financial responsibilities. While your chemistry may be great as a couple, take steps to make sure your finances mesh well together too. Avoid unnecessary arguments or confusion down the road by determining upfront your spending and saving habits, whether you’ll open a joint checking account and if the responsibility of paying the bills will fall to one person or be handled together. The key is clear communication with one another.
3. Contribute to an emergency savings fund. A financial rainy day is never in the forecast, so it’s important to always have at least six months’ worth of income in a savings account, or money market fund, which can pay for the unexpected. If that seems impractical, stash away as much as you can!
4. Get life insurance. If you have someone who depends on you financially, you need life insurance. You may have some life insurance coverage through work, and that’s a nice benefit to have. But often it’s only one or two times your salary. And while that may sound like a lot, think of what would happen to your spouse or partner financially if you died—they may be paying the mortgage and car and bills on just one salary instead of two. Plus, life insurance through the workplace generally goes away when the job does.
Getting an individual policy that you own makes sense. It’s very affordable when you’re young and healthy (a healthy 30-year-old would pay around $13 a month for a 20-year, $250,000, level-term policy) and you’ll have that coverage as long as you keep paying the premiums. For an estimate of how much life insurance you need, visit the easy online Life Insurance Needs Calculator.
5. Evaluate your disability insurance needs. Without your paycheck, how long would you be able to make your mortgage or rent payment, buy groceries or pay your credit card bills without feeling the pinch? If you’re like most, it wouldn’t be long at all: Half of working Americans couldn’t make it a month before financial difficulties would set in, and almost one in four would have problems immediately, according to a Life Happens survey.
Disability insurance ensures that you if you’re sick or injured you’ll continue to receive a percentage of your salary until you can return to work. Your ability to work and earn an income is one of your greatest assets and is something that you need to protect. Check out how much you might need with this online DI calculator. Plus, ask your HR person at work what type of coverage you might have through your job, and what percentage of your salary it would cover and for how long.
6. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. This is also the time to put in place a will, which specifies how one’s estate will be managed after death and designates executors, guardians and trustees. And don’t forget to get a living will, too, to make sure your spouse knows whether or not you want to be kept on artificial life support. You and your spouse should also designate a power of attorney—someone authorized to manage your affairs, typically financial ones, if you’re not able to handle them yourself.
7. Meet with an insurance professional. Many people don’t know that you can sit down with an insurance agents and talk through your needs at no charge—and no obligation. If this all sounds overwhelming, why not reach out for professional advice? You can contact a Colonial agent, and we’d be happy to help walk you through it all.