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Financial Decisions After You Say “I Do”

MoneyWise

Christian talk radio with Rob West

April 12, 2022

As we enter the wedding season, couples are making plans for the big day. But are they thinking about life when the honeymoon’s over, especially how they’ll handle their finances? We’ll talk about that today on MoneyWise. All newlyweds have their first disagreement over money at some point. It’s unavoidable. So when that happens, what should they do? HANDLING MONEY DISAGREEMENTS Here’s where Christian couples have an advantage. At the first sign of tension over money, they can take it to the Lord. When couples are at odds over money, they can kneel and pray together about their finances. They should ask God for wisdom, patience and agreement. As financial teacher and author Howard Dayton often says, It’s impossible to argue with your spouse when you’ve brought God into the process. So what difficulties might newlyweds expect? The first one they’re likely to run into is spending and what overspending can lead to: debt. There’s a temptation to overspend on furnishings for your new house or apartment. You may also be tempted to make a big purchase, like a new car with a hefty auto loan, but nothing kills the honeymoon spirit like debt. So you need to keep your spending in check as you set up a house. And the only way to do that is by working up a budget, or spending plan. It’s a critical mistake to start married life without one. PLAN YOUR SPENDING! A couple should sit down, again preferably before the wedding, and work out a budget together. They must also pledge to each other and the Lord that they’ll stick to it. You can avoid many fights over money by taking that important step. Of course, we recommend that you download the MoneyWise app to set up your spending plan. It has several ways to develop a budget and will also help you track your spending so you can easily stick with it. The next thing newlyweds should think about is life insurance. When you’re young, that’s probably the last thing on your mind. You or your spouse may not see the need for it, but that’s a mistake. You should get term life insurance with a death benefit that’s 12 to 15 times your income with a policy for each if both are working. A stay-at-home parent also needs life insurance because of the high cost of child care. The good news is, being young, life insurance is easily affordable. You’ve already worked up your budget, so you know how much you have left over for saving. You’ll want to start building up your emergency fund as quickly as possible. BUILD YOUR EMERGENCY FUND In your budget, set up a category for your emergency fund. It’s money that you set aside to cover anything from a flat tire to a temporary job loss. So it’s very important. Start with a goal of saving $1, 500. Then continue saving until you have one month’s living expenses. Eventually, you want 3 to 6 months’ worth in savings. Keep that in a separate savings account at an online bank where you don’t see it unless you’re really looking for it. THINKING LONG TERM Once your emergency fund is set aside, it’s time to start thinking long term. You want to sit down and have a discussion about the goals you share. Buying a house, helping your future children with college, and yes, even retirement. As for buying a house, you want to have 20-percent saved up for a down payment. If you’re buying a $200, 000 house, you need $40, 000 in savings. That’s a lot, but it keeps you from having to pay for private mortgage insurance, which only helps the lender not you. For your $200, 000 house, PMI could cost you nearly $150 a month. Now, you’re just starting ouT, but you still need to think about retirement. Yes, it’s a long way off, but if you start saving at least 10-percent of your income now in a qualified retirement account like a 401k or IRA, those dollars will have tremendous compounding power over the years. You don’t want to waste that opportunity. You may also want to think about helping your kids pay for college someday. The best way to do that is by opening a 529 education savings account. Money you contribute is not tax deductible, but your contributions and earnings aren’t taxed when the money is later taken out for qualified expenses. On today’s program, Rob also answers listener questions: ●How can you start investing very small amounts? ●Should you cut back on retirement investing in order to pay off your mortgage sooner? ●How do you determine when it makes sense to downsize your home? ●How can you rebuild your credit after a bankruptcy?

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