Marriage is an amazing life milestone, but it also brings a variety of changes, both positive and negative. Before getting married, you’ve likely researched the financial questions you should ask each other, but do you know how your wedding will affect your finances once the “I dos” are said and the wedding certificate is signed? Consider the financial consequences of your nuptials and ensure you’re both prepared to handle all the big picture changes that come along with those sweet wedding day vows.
Health Insurance Concerns
If you both have employers that offer health benefits, and you both intend to remain at your positions, then you’ll need to compare the benefits programs and determine which are better for your individual medical requirements. As a general rule, it’s more cost effective to put both members of a couple under the same coverage. Talk with your human resources department to find out the window during which you can sign up your new spouse to your coverage. These windows are usually small and gone in the blink of an eye; if you miss it you’ll have to wait until the next open enrollment period to make any necessary changes.
Once you’ve taken the plunge, you’ll need to decide whether the two of you will file jointly or separately. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, so you’ll have to make an informed decision about it together. You may experience lower tax rates if filing together, but you also are on the hook for accuracy. There’s a host of facets to consider when choosing a filing status, so make sure you do your research and weigh the pros and cons against each other.
The Taxes Difference
While many believe that getting married will provide tax breaks and monetary incentives, this isn’t always the case. Depending on your tax bracket and whether or not you have comparable incomes, you might find that the two of you will owe more in income taxes. There is also something known as the marriage penalty, in which you’ll both owe tax for the year you got married even if you received a refund. There are some tax benefits to be aware of as well. From the Lifetime Learning Credit to an Adoption Expense Credit, there are certain credit and deductions that can only be claimed by couples filing jointly. If you’re having a hard time determining which tax breaks you qualify for, use the help of a tax professional from a company like www.communitytax.com.
Hopefully you’ve been diligent with a retirement plan while single, and now that you’re getting married, you’ll need to adjust your saving strategies. As you’ll need proportionally higher income in retirement now that you’re two instead of one, hopefully you’ll be receiving two incomes for saving and two employment retirement plans to utilize. If both of you work for employers offering retirement plans and 401ks, put more contributions toward the option that will provide higher payoff. If your partner’s employer matches entire contributions, it’s better to put more money towards that than yours where you receive only 50 percent matching.
Paying Off Debt
If both of you are entering your marriage with debt, you might have previously been tackling your accounts in the ways that made individual sense. Once your finances are combined, however, you may need to rethink how you handle repaying old debts on things like credit card bills and student loans. Depending on the interest levels on each account for the both of you, you may need to look toward tackling your partner’s debt first in order to pay less in interest over the long haul.
Community Property Laws
Some states have community property laws. In essence, any property, assets, or money you come into after marriage will require splitting with your partner in case of divorce. If you’re considering separating property from your marital property, you’ll need to discuss a prenuptial agreement or work with a financial advisor who can help you establish a legal separation of property from your marriage assets.
Getting married changes a host of things, but making sure you realize how it will affect both of your wallets is essential. Take these facets into consideration before your upcoming nuptials and make sure you know how a marriage certificate might change the state of your finances.
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