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The Financial “To Do” Before “I Do”

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As a bride-to-be, planning for the big day is a joyous — albeit busy — time. Before you say “I do,” there’s one more item to add to your wedding checklist: a conversation about money.

Having an open and honest conversation with your future spouse may curtail many potential concerns about money down the road. Marriage can bring changes to the way you make financial decisions, so initiating a dialogue early on can help the process go more smoothly.

Here are some to-dos to get you prepared to walk down the aisle with peace of mind about your finances:

  • Compile a net worth statement that lists what you own and what you owe
  • Prepare a monthly cash flow statement showing income and expenses, such as loan payments, utilities, housing and health care costs
  • Develop an annual budget plan that determines how much of your resources will go toward bills, savings, insurance, vacations, gifts, etc.
  • Obtain credit reports for you and your future spouse
  • Plan to update your financial statements together every year as a commitment to your marriage and your financial health

Once you have a better understanding of your finances, it’s important to discuss the cost of your upcoming wedding. As you plan, be mindful about sticking to your budget. The national average cost of a wedding climbed to $35,329 in 2016. Your wedding may cost more or less, but the price should be aligned with your financial reality.

You’ll need to consider some other decisions too. For example, will you be merging your finances or maintaining separate checking accounts? Who will be responsible for keeping up with and paying the bills? How much life insurance will you need?

Consider what your new priorities will be together. Whether these goals include buying a new house, having children and saving for college, or supporting your favorite charities, you will need a plan to reach those priorities. The right investment strategies will depend on your time frame and how you view risk. For instance, how you save and invest for short-term goals are different from how you would do so for long-term goals.

Once you’re married, you’ll need to create or update your wills and healthcare proxies, and make sure to review and update the beneficiaries on your financial assets such as individual retirement accounts, life insurance and annuities. Also, remember that organization is important, so create and maintain a family-record organizer to keep important documents, like your new marriage certificate.

The months leading up to your big day can be filled with joy, anticipation and occasionally stress. Be proactive by addressing your financial needs and keeping an open mind when it comes to the wants and desires of your future spouse.

kristen-fricks-romanKristen Fricks-Roman CFP®, CRPS®, is a financial advisor and senior vice president at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Atlanta. She can be reached at [email protected].


The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, or its affiliates. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC and its Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Individuals should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, member SIPC.

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