Getting Married

IF YOU DECIDE TO marry, you’ll have a lifetime of financial decisions ahead of you. But there are some items you should probably tackle right away:

Budget the wedding. Weddings are said to cost an average $30,000. Almost half of households approaching retirement age have less than $70,000 in savings. An obvious question: Wouldn’t it make more sense to opt for the cheaper wedding and save the rest for longer-term goals?

Get to know each other financially. Find out how much you each save regularly and have set aside for retirement, and how much you each have in debt. Also learn about each other’s attitudes toward spending, credit cards and investment risk. It’s worth checking out your future in-laws and how they handle money, because there’s a good chance your future spouse has adopted many of his or her parents’ financial attitudes.

Change beneficiary designations. You will likely want to name your new spouse as the beneficiary of your life insurance and retirement accounts. You both should also get new wills drawn up.

Rethink your life insurance. You may need to take out more life insurance, especially if you’re planning to buy a home together, one of you plans to stop working or you intend to start a family.

Look for cost savings. You might save money by sharing phone plans and digital subscriptions, and by getting both of you onto whichever health plan offered by your respective employers is least expensive.

Fun fact: “Spending between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring is associated with a 1.3 times greater hazard of divorce as compared to spending between $500 and $2,000,” according to a 2014 study by two Emory University researchers. The researchers found a similar relationship between spending on the wedding itself and the chances of divorce.

Next: Same-Sex Marriage

Previous: Moving in Together

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