Insurance policies often have limits as to when you can make changes—typically 30 days, but sometimes as little as two weeks. Make sure you go over your options beforehand, so you know what changes to make. Some great questions to ask include:
- Is it less expensive for one partner to move onto the other’s health insurance?
- Are there any children that now need health coverage?
- Which insurance plan has better coverage, or which saves money for other goals?
- Does one insurance plan have better parental leave coverage, in the event you wish to add children to your family?
While you will probably be combining things like homeowner’s or renter’s insurance naturally, another issue to consider is auto insurance. Will it save you money to combine policies? Many places offer multi-car discounts.
Life Insurance: If you and your spouse do not currently have life insurance policies, now is a great time to get them—especially if you have children! If you do have life insurance, make sure to update your beneficiaries.
Make a Will
No one wants to think about it, but in case of death of one or both partners, it is important to have a will set up. (Again, having children makes this vitally important!) Putting a will in place will make things much easier if the worst happens. Not sure how to set up a will? Check out this article about putting a will together.
Calculate Your Net Worth As a Couple
Now is the time to lay your entire financial story out on the table, if you haven’t already. The clearer you are about where you stand financially, the better off you will be long-term. List outstanding debts, any payments owed to previous spouses (such as child support), all income, investments, and all accounts (including retirement accounts). Use this as a springboard to put together your financial goals and your annual, day-to-day budget.
Outline Your Financial Goals
Money means different things to different people: security, power, or perhaps the ability to travel, start a company, or buy fun things. Talking about and agreeing on your financial goals as a couple is extremely beneficial, as it can help reduce arguing and can get you and your partner on the same page.
Decide How To Manage Your Accounts
It is no longer assumed that all couples will have joint bank accounts. However, there are some benefits to having at least one joint account. Managing household expenses can be much easier with an account that both partners can access and contribute to. If one spouse is repairing their credit score, decide how you will manage that as a couple.
Create a Budget Together
Even if you have separate accounts, a joint household budget is essential to reaching your financial goals (and maintaining peace!). Talk with your partner, and be sure to prioritize your joint financial goals in setting up your annual and monthly budgets.
Changing Your Name: If one or both partners choose to change their name, it will be important to take steps to ensure your creditors, financial institutions, and other entities are aware of the name change. This process can take time, so don’t delay. It may be helpful to make a list of all places and documents that may require official name change information, such as:
- Social Security card
- Driver's license
- Vehicle registration, lease agreements, and other documents
- Creditors (including any outstanding student loans)
- Financial institutions
- Voter registration.