Money & Marriage

Q: I just got engaged and I have plenty of things to plan for: the wedding, the honeymoon, moving in with my new husband. But beyond that, we really have no financial game plan. And hearing how financial issues cause so much strife in marriages, it makes me nervous. What can we do now to prevent financial obstacles to our future happiness?

The stress that comes with all of the things you have to plan for can be significantly reduced by beginning with a simple financial plan. I highly recommend talking about it together before the wedding. There are four easy steps that I recommend couples begin with:

• Create a monthly budget together to track how much you make and spend each month as a couple. Each person gets input into what categories you include and how much to budget. Then, decide how you are going to stick to it. There are several great online resources to help.

• Establish an emergency fund for the unexpected expenses that will pop up at the worst times. This should come before any other savings plan, and should be enough to prevent small issues interrupting your long term goals.

• Secure all of the insurance policies that you may need as a couple, and review them each year to make sure that you are properly covered. These could include medical, dental, disability, life, home and auto insurance.

• Save regularly for retirement to help you reach your long term financial goals. The sooner you start, the longer you have for your money to grow.

Of course all of these steps can be done on your own as a couple, but the best thing that you can do to make sure all of your bases are covered is to talk to a financial professional when planning. Interview several advisors to find one who understands your individual situation and is willing to help you put together a financial strategy.

Steve Edwards is a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Anchorage. He has a business degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage and lives locally with his wife and two daughters.