Wedding Planning Articles
Your Future Together
...."A new beginning"
It's difficult to imagine now, but there will come a time when your wedding and reception will have been successfully completed. All of the parties will be over. You will have experienced that incredible honeymoon you've dreamed of for years. You will have even completed writing all of those personalized Thank You notes!
Once the big event becomes a memory, it will be time to begin some additional planning...planning for all aspects of your future together. You are no longer single, and that brings with it a lot of great benefits as well as some new responsibilities. How do you identify what these benefits are and how do you maximize them? How do you begin planning your future together? As in planning your wedding, it is time to get organized and educate yourself. Some of the first things you should think about as a married person are:
- Where to live? - How to manage your money? - What about income taxes?
Your First Home
Now that you are married, you likely have two incomes! While many expenses don't change with marriage, one really big one does - the cost of housing. You now only need one house between the two of you. With all of the money you will be saving by cohabitating, it might be time to think about buying a house! There are way too many benefits from home ownership to discuss in this space, but here are three biggies: 1) appreciation in value, 2) tax deductions, and 3) shelter from inflation.
If you are young and just married, buying a home may seem out of reach. However, when you take into account the new mortgage programs and the tax benefits of home ownership, you can probably afford a lot more house than you can imagine...a lot more. Plus, buying a home is one of the best investments you will ever make. When you pay rent, that money is simply gone forever. But when you pay a mortgage, that money continues working for you in multiple ways.
Set some time aside to investigate the possibilities. Interview some local realtors and loan consultants and select one of each with whom you feel you can work best. Your realtor and loan professional will help you to understand how much house you can afford. Your loan consultant can even get you pre-qualified so that you will be in a strong position when making an offer on a home.
Your realtor can recommend communities and neighborhoods that fit your style and budget. Remember that your first home will likely be a starter home and not your dream home. The important thing in the California real estate market is to get into your first house as soon as practical, rather than waiting to be able to afford your dream home.
Odds are, your savings and salary increases will never surpass home price appreciation. Resulting in your dream home forever remaining out of reach. It's wiser to buy a starter home and then use your home value appreciation to leverage yourselves into a nicer second home that more closely approximates the home of your dreams. Remember...the sooner you start down the path to homeownership, the sooner you can start accumulating equity.
Studies show that couples fight about child rearing, sex, and money. We'll leave the child rearing and sex up to you, but we can give you a hand with the money issue. You are likely accustomed to managing your own money, but now its time to merge your money, to the degree with which you are comfortable, with your spouse's money. You needn't do this all at once - It's perfectly ok to phase into it.
You may want to start off by each having a separate checking account plus one joint checking and savings account between you. Decide how much money each of you will contribute to the joint checking account (this may be the same dollar amount or it may be a percentage of your respective salaries) and which bills to pay out of the joint account.
Decide how much you want to put into the joint savings account each month and try to be consistent. If offered a 401k at work, try to contribute at least the maximum that your employer matches, as this is a great tax break plus you are saving money. These are just a couple of classic money management tips from a non-professional! The best way to learn to manage money is to consult a professional financial planner. These professionals keep up with all of the strategies to maximize your income and minimize your expenses. Most planners also offer complimentary initial consultations where you can learn much more about the services that they offer. They can provide a guide map to a financially secure future that is tailored specifically for you!
It doesn't matter if you got married on January 1st or December 31st… the IRS considers you married for the whole year. You may still file a separate income tax return; however you will be filing a separate return as a married person.
This change in marital status changes your tax burden. Is it now better to file a joint return or to each file separate returns? The definitive answer to that question is - it depends.
Tax laws can be complicated. It is advisable to consult a tax professional in preparing your returns. Particularly when you have a change in status, such as marrying. The fee that a tax preparer will charge is often offset by the money they can save you. She can also help you in tax planning to minimize your future tax burden.