Going to the Chapel: How Finances Change After Marriage
When it comes to weddings and money, thoughts usually center on the cost of the tuxes, bridal accessories, and the reception. What about after the wedding and honeymoon are over? Marriage changes everything, but have you considered how it will change your finances specifically? Before walking down the aisle, it’s important to talk with your fiancé about the ways that marriage certificate will impact your wallet, credit score, and financial future. We’ve created a rundown of the financial consequences that follow saying “I do”.
Your Tax Filing Status
After getting married, you’ll have to make some decisions about your tax filing processes. Will you be filing jointly when the next tax season comes around? There are two choices to use on your tax return once you get married and there are benefits and disadvantages to both options.
- Married Filing Jointly
Filing under this distinction can provide a bevy of tax deductions and credits. Generally the tax rate is lower, and you can claim a higher standard deduction. If either of you are a student, you may qualify for education tax credits and deduct student loan interest. If you have kids, you can claim deductions for childcare expenses, and file for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Married Filing Separately
Filing under this distinction can be a great route for a couple that earn about the same amount of money, because combined incomes may seem them exceeding certain tax brackets, which can require more income taxes. If either of you has hefty tax bills, it’s also wise to file separately so as not to become responsible for their tax liability.
It’s important to look at your circumstances to determine which of these filing statuses will best benefit you and your new spouse. Keep in mind that your filing status is determined on December 31st of each year, so even if you weren’t married for the majority of the year, you still can’t file as single if you’re married by that date. If you’re still unsure which will provide the most benefit for you and your partner, seek advice from a professional tax company like Community Tax.
Changes to Your Health Insurance
Now that you’re married, you’ll have the opportunity to reconsider your employer health insurance plan. If you and your spouse are both employed by companies that offer health benefits, it’s important to determine which plan better covers your needs. It’s generally more cost-effective to have both individuals under one coverage plan. Task yourselves with speaking with your respective HR departments and find out when you can add your partner to your health coverage plan. These windows come quickly after the marriage certificate, and once the window closes, you’ll be forced to wait until the next open enrollment period.
Consider Each Other’s Debt
Whether you both enter holy matrimony with debt, or only one of you is saddled with old payments, it’s likely your approach to paying off these accounts must change. If you both owe money, whether it be due to credit card debt, back taxes, or student loans, you’ll likely need to reexamine the way you handle repayments. Depending on the varied interest levels between accounts, you may need to focus your attention on certain debts. If your spouse has worse debt, you may need to funnel your combined money into tackling their money issues first.
Retirement Savings Plans
It’s never too soon to start thinking about retirement. If you haven’t already been saving and putting money towards a specified retirement account, whether that be a 401k through your employer or an IRA with a company like Vanguard, it’s time to start. Now that you’re married, your retirement savings will now need to handle living expenses for two people instead of one. If you’re both employed and have two different retirement accounts, always focus your contributions towards the option that offers higher payoff. If you or your partner’s employer matches contributions to such accounts, it’s important to funnel your money towards that account.
Getting married is a fantastic milestone, but it comes with a bevy of financial ramifications to consider. Keep these in mind before and after you walk down the aisle and set you and your spouse up for a lifetime of financial happiness.
Photography: Anor Photography