Back from your honeymoon and ready to tackle the financial aspect of your new shared life? Congratulations on your new marriage! At American National Bank, we’ve been helping new couples find their financial footing since 1909. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about discussing, planning, and taking steps toward your financial goals.
Discuss your financial plans and motivations
Have a frank discussion with your new spouse about your plans for the future, and how your finances will play a role in these plans. For example:
- What are your short- and long-term plans?
- By what year or stage of life would you like to achieve these goals?
- If you don’t already own a home together, is home ownership part of your five-year plan?
- If you plan to have children, will one of you stay home past your job’s maternity or paternity leave? Can you afford to live on one income? How much are local daycare costs?
- How much do you want to travel? What kinds of vacations do you want to take?
- Do you plan to adopt a pet together?
Whatever your hopes and dreams for your shared future, American National Bank can help you get there with convenient checking accounts, savings options, home loans, retirement planning, and more! Contact us to learn more or visit your nearest AMNB location in Virginia or North Carolina.
Decide which bills and financial accounts you’ll combine
You don’t have to have a joint bank account just because you’re married. Depending on how similar—or different—your spending habits and attitudes toward money are, a joint checking account could be a convenience or a source of arguments. The same thing goes for credit cards and other accounts. Before deciding, think about how the two of you will manage your money:
- Does one of you have a higher income than the other? If so, do you think every household expense should be split 50/50 or should each person contribute a percentage of their income proportionate to the whole?
- Will one person manage the couple’s finances on their own or do both people want to be involved in budgeting and spending decisions?
- What did each of you learn about money from your families of origin? What do you consider your money strengths and weaknesses now? Look for places those strengths and weaknesses overlap and conflict.
Discussing these topics should help you make informed decisions together about whether to combine your bank and credit card accounts, as well as whether both people should help pay off a debt that one person brought into the marriage.
If you’re still having trouble agreeing on a plan, consider working with a financial planner, taking a class, or reading a book together to expand your knowledge and help get your finances off to a fresh start along with your life together.
Create a budget together
If you were living together before marriage, you may already be accustomed to budgeting together. However, it never hurts to re-examine your approach to budgeting or to try new techniques. For example:
- Try a weekly or bi-weekly “budget date” at your favorite cafe or coffee shop. Dedicating time to budgeting and doing it at a pleasant location can ensure the budget gets done and reduce money conflicts.
- Check-in on a quarterly, bi-annual, or annual basis just to discuss your long-term goals and make any necessary tweaks in your budget to support those goals.
- Is your budget accessible to both people? Check out our free Money Tracker app available within online banking or even just a shared spreadsheet document or a printout on your kitchen bulletin board.
- Set up auto-pay on as many bills as possible to avoid having to ask “did you pay this already” or forgetting to make an on-time payment and incurring late fees.
This is also a good time to start growing an emergency fund together, whether you’re starting from scratch or combining individual savings accounts. As you go through life together, you’ll encounter unexpected or unplanned expenses at some point. Having an emergency fund to fall back on helps you stay out of credit card debt and keeps your budget on track.
Start planning for retirement
When you’ve just gotten married, the thought of spending your golden years together can seem like a mere glimmer on the horizon. However, it’s never too early (or too late) to start planning for retirement.
First, take stock of any retirement accounts either of you has, whether a 401(k) account or pension plan through an employer or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Ideally, each of you will have at least one tax-advantaged retirement account to save money in.
Next, look at how much each of you is contributing to retirement accounts. Make sure you’re contributing at least enough to get your full employer match. If you’re not currently maxing out your annual contributions, how much more can you save from each paycheck?
- As of 2021, the annual maximum contribution to a 401(k) is $19,500.
- For an IRA, you can contribute up to $6,000 annually.
If you don’t already have a Roth or Traditional IRA, you can open a retirement savings account with us.
And while we’re on the topic of retirement savings, be sure to add your spouse as your beneficiary for your retirement account and any other non-joint financial accounts.
Have a discussion about insurance
While you may not consider insurance part of your finances, it’s absolutely part of a strong financial plan. Most employers provide some term life insurance coverage as an employee benefit, but financial planners often recommend getting additional coverage. And if you’re interested in whole life insurance, a type of policy that never expires and builds cash value over time, you should know that the earlier in life you sign up, the lower your premiums will be.
Other types of insurance to consider in your financial planning discussions include disability insurance, long-term care insurance, and annuities. Protect your spouse and future children from financial hardship in the event of your early death or disability. Read more about Insurance & Risk Management from AMNB.
Start your financial lives together at your hometown bank!
At American National Bank & Trust Company, we believe being local is more than just having an office in the community. It’s about looking out for our customers with better banking options and quick, local decisions. Established in 1909 in Danville, Virginia, we have a long legacy of helping people and communities thrive. With multiple banking locations in Virginia and North Carolina, we are proud to be your community’s hometown bank. Visit your nearest American National Bank location today to discover all the ways we can help you and your new spouse plan your financial future!