If you got married this summer—congratulations! You’re starting a new, exciting chapter in your life. There are some important steps you should take to make sure that your financial life is on track.
But even if you’re not married, the final tip of this article will give you money advice about how to communicate with your partner the right way so you never have conflicts about finances.
Money Management for Newlyweds
Here are 7 tasks to accomplish so nothing falls through the cracks in your financial life as a couple:
Task #1: Update the Social Security Administration
After you tie the knot, don’t forget to notify all the institutions and people who need your new status and information—otherwise you’ll have some problems on your hands at tax time.
If you changed your name, your first stop should be the Social Security Administration’s web site at ssa.gov. Your new name must be linked to your Social Security number in the system. It’s easy to update your information and get a new Social Security card by filing Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card.
Task #2: Inform the Internal Revenue Service
If you moved to a new address, be sure to let the IRS know where to find you. Though fewer tax forms go out in the mail each year, missing important communication from Uncle Sam could be costly. So visit irs.gov to download and submit Form 8822, Change of Address.
Task #3: Notify the U.S. Postal Service
Remember to also notify the U.S. Postal Service if you move. You can go online and make the change at usps.com. Also, don’t forget about your driver’s license. You can search online for your state’s motor vehicle department and learn how to make a name or address change.
Task #4: Advise Your Employer
Inform the human resources or benefits department at work about any name change or address change. They need your new address to mail out your Form W-2 at the end of the year.
Additionally, your employer should update any workplace benefits you might have—such as your retirement plan or health insurance—with your new information. If you and your spouse both have health insurance at work, consider whether you could save money by having just one policy only, instead of two.
Task #5: Double Check Your Withholding
Now that you’re married, you can’t file taxes as a single person anymore. If you and your spouse both work, your combined income could bump you into a higher tax bracket. So it’s a good idea to complete a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to make sure that you don’t have too much or too little tax withheld from your pay. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator at irs.gov or ask your employer for help with the form.
Task #6: Choose the Best Tax Filing Status
Your marital status on December 31 determines how you should file taxes for that entire year. As a married person, you can choose whether to file taxes as Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately each year. Though filing jointly is generally more beneficial, figure your taxes both ways and choose the option that gives you the lowest tax liability.
Task #7: Schedule Regular Money Talks
An important part of your financial life as a couple is maintaining an open line of communication about your debt, savings, and goals. I recently spoke with money and relationship experts, Bethany and Scott Palmer—who wrote First Comes Love, Then Comes Money. In my audio interview, they shared valuable information about how couples can improve their financial lives and grow closer.
One tip is to have a regular “money huddle,” where you talk about your finances for 45-minutes once a month. The best money huddles start with the END in mind, which is an acronym for how to structure your financial discussion:
- E = Evaluate: In the first 15 minutes of your money huddle, quickly evaluate your debt and savings. Know the balances on your outstanding loans and credit cards, the interest you’re paying on each debt, and the balances in each of your savings or retirement accounts.
- N = Needs: Spend the next 15 minutes talking about one of your money needs, like new clothes, buying life insurance, or saving for a new car. Make a plan for how to accomplish each of your specific needs.
- D = Dream: Take the final 15 minutes of your discussion to acknowledge your dreams and to reconnect as a couple. Do you want to amass a cushy retirement account? Buy a vacation home? Move to a new city? Start a business. Starting a dialog about your dreams is the first step to making them a reality.
To learn much more about how couples can end money conflicts in their relationship for good, be sure to listen to my full audio interview with the Palmers at SmartMovesToGrowRich.com.