Discussing Finances An Important First Step for Newlyweds

(MS) — With wedding costs getting higher each year, much of a bride and groom's pre-wedding focus is on finances. But as any newlywed knows, the focus on finances isn't lifted once the walk down the aisle is complete and the honeymoon is over.

In fact, newlyweds face a number of financial to-do's once they've arrived home. Though some might seem obvious, due to the hectic nature of weddings it's important to review just what you have and havent done.
Changed policies? Chances are, both spouses have separate insurance policies, investment accounts, 401(k) plans, etc. Once married, it's prudent for couples to change the beneficiaries on such accounts should something happen to either person. Regardless of what each individual's assets are, it's important to make these changes as soon as possible after the wedding, when doing so is still fresh on your mind.

Examined your coverages? Couples should compare each other's insurance policies. Oftentimes, couples save money when combining policies such as automobile insurance. Check for duplicate coverage as well, so you can avoid essentially paying for the same thing twice. If you both have renter's insurance, one person can now drop it, since it's likely you'll be living together.
It's also important to reconsider health insurance plans offered by both your places of employment. Most companies offer a choice of coverages, some which are better for singles and others that benefit married couples. Also, sometimes it makes more sense for each spouse to keep their own coverage. Either way, examine both the existing policies and other options and determine what's best.
• Updated your will? Most singles don't even have a will, but it's important for married couples to have one in case of an accident. Many couples prefer their spouse have the power of attorney should they get in an accident, but unless there's a will stating that preference, that position can be challenged by family members. A will ensures your assets will go where you want them to go in case of an accident, and will make sure the person you want to handle such matters is the one who will end up handling them.

Discussed debt? While most couples have discussed longterm financial goals before walking down the aisle, even the closest of couples might be too embarrassed or ashamed to discuss their personal debt with their spouse. However, each person's financial background will impact the couple's financial future, so if you haven't discussed each other's debt already, do it soon and develop a plan for eliminating debt.

This is also a good time to bring up a budget. Due to the escalating cost of real estate, many newly married couples cannot afford to purchase a home right after they've gotten married. Since home ownership is a goal of most married couples, when discussing debt it's best to establish a mutual budget as well. Lots of couples feature one spender and one saver, but the way for both to be happy and ultimately realize financial goals is to agree upon and adjust to an established budget.

CAPTION: To avoid breaking the bank, newlyweds would be wise to sit down and discuss finances as soon as possible.