Planning a wedding takes quite a bit of time and effort. It involves a good deal of communication to make sure everything goes smoothly on the big day. Don’t let the organization skills you developed while planning your wedding go to waste after tying the knot. Instead, re-direct them to an important part of your new life together: creating a financial plan for your future.

As you and your new spouse take time to discuss financial matters, pause to identify what’s important to both of you and then develop a plan to manage, grow, and protect your financial well-being. You will be building a foundation that can help you in the years to come.

Here are six areas to discuss as you begin your life together.

#1 – Make a Monthly Budget

Work together to create a monthly budget of income and projected expenses. Consider tracking every expense for a few months to determine where your money goes. You may be surprised how those daily lattes add up! Many budgeting apps sync with your bank and credit card accounts to help you track and categorize your spending. Manual analysis or budgeting apps can help you monitor your spending and savings over time.

#2 – Start an Emergency Fund

Use some of those cash wedding gifts to build your emergency fund. An emergency fund can help you weather financial storms such as job loss, medical bills, or costly home repairs without going into debt. If both spouses are working, set aside three months of living expenses. If only one spouse is working, aim for six months of living expenses.

#3 – Develop a Debt Payoff Plan

Take inventory of your total debt, from credit cards and car payments to student loans and mortgages. Make a plan to pay down non-tax-deductible debt as quickly as possible to free up money for other goals, such as saving for a house down payment. Consider focusing on debt with the highest interest rate first. Or, gain momentum by paying off debt with the smallest balance first. Then divert that payment to your next larger debt.

#4 – Save More for Retirement

Thanks to the power of compounding returns over time, saving for retirement when you are young can have a significant impact on your future financial success. As you join households, take advantage of cost savings in other areas (such as reduced housing costs) to increase your retirement savings. Also, make sure to take full advantage of any company matching contributions at work.

#5 – Protect Your Loved Ones

Review your insurance needs and existing coverage. If both of you are working and employer-sponsored health insurance is available, determine whether a family plan or individual plans would work best for your family. Life insurance can help provide for your loved ones after your death. Review any group coverage at work and consider additional life insurance if needed. Term life insurance is generally less costly and only pays a benefit if you pass away during a specific term. Also, make sure to have disability insurance in place, in case an unforeseen event prevents you from working.

# 6 – Create an Estate Plan

After tying the knot, it’s more important than ever to ensure a few vital documents are in place. Review and update beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement accounts to make sure they follow your desires. Note that this is especially important for second marriages or when children are already present. Execute powers of attorney for health care and property to ensure that the person you name can act on your behalf if you should become unable to. Create a will to direct the distribution of your assets to your loved ones.

Growing Together

Following these six tips can help you make good progress toward your future financial well-being as a couple. In addition, a qualified financial advisor can guide you in developing a financial plan that focuses on your goals and helps protect your assets and loved ones.

This is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, investment or financial advice. Please consult your legal, investment and financial professionals regarding your specific circumstances.

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