After the Wedding: What You Need to Know to Navigate Your First Year of Marriage
Your engagement period is filled with fun wedding planning activies. Picking out a dress and reception location and planning the menu are just a few of the many decisions involved in creating a memorable celebration. Once the wedding is over and you're back from the honeymoon, you and your spouse may be ready to take a break from planning. But your first year as a married couple will entail still more decision-making, particularly if you're thinking about purchasing a home or starting a family. Here are a few tips on planning your future together, after the wedding.
Planning for a Home Purchase
Buying a new home is typically the largest single purchase of your life and often requires months or years of advanced planning. Start by setting a household budget with your partner and deciding how much you wish to save toward a down payment. A recent Forbes article on newlywed finances recommended saving 20% of your combined salaries - dedicating 10% to retirement and 10% to other savings, which can be used as a down payment or for creating an emergency fund (if you don't already have one).
Your goal for a down payment should be 20% of the home's purchase price, which will net you a better interest rate and help you avoid the need for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Once you have your down payment, the next step is to obtain a mortgage preapproval. A preapproval has become almost a necessity in today's real estate market, so if your credit isn't in the best shape, work with your spouse to cut discretionary spending and pay off debt before contacting mortgage banks.
Planning for a Family
After the wedding, your friends and relatives naturally begin to anticipate the next step in your new family's progression. Be prepared to answer questions like "When will you have kids?" If you are in fact planning for a family, think about what couple-friendly activities you'd like to do with your partner before you spend years in theme parks and playgrounds. Financial planning for kids is also important - they're not cheap! Another planning activity related to starting a family is researching neighborhoods and school districts in conjunction with your home purchase planning to make sure you're moving to an area where you will be happy raising kids.
Planning Job Transitions
When you and your partner lived separately, you may each have selected your location based on your individual job and work commute. Combining two lives and two careers into one household usually means someone gets the short end of the stick, commute-wise. If you were in a long-distance relationship prior to getting married, one or both of you will definitely need to switch jobs. Again, a connection to other post-wedding planning activities is important, as the demands of parenting often compete with the demands of a career. Even if you aren't thinking about kids, you probably want to enjoy the first year of marriage without an extra-long commute. Think about your work-life balance and where you really want it to be, especially during this unique time in your life.
Of course, with all of the other planning keeping you busy, it's easy to forget about how your insurance needs may change when you're part of a married couple. In the midst of those first few months of wedded bliss, it may be difficult to stop and think about the need for insurance, but it is an important part of planning your lives together. Proper insurance guards against life's pitfalls, such as monetary shortfalls stemming from car accidents, natural disasters like floods, or other unfortunate incidents. The first year of marriage is also a good time to begin thinking about purchasing life insurance for you and your spouse while your age and health will bring you favorable rates. An independent Trusted Choice® agent can discuss life insurance options and help guide you to the best overall policy that meets the needs of your new family.