It’s been said that marriage is a team sport -- That to be successful in your union of love, it’s essential you approach your moments of joy, sadness, and challenge together, and of course, with a game plan to lead you in the right direction.
My parents who were married for 40 years always told me they considered the key ingredients to a successful marriage to be trust, communication, and a sense of humor.
- Trust: Trust in one another that no matter what, you will always be there for each other to lend support and strength.
- Communication: Keep the lines of communication open so you can freely discuss, debate, and collaborate on the hundreds, if not thousands, of different situations and decisions that will arise throughout your marriage. Yes, you will not always agree – but being able to discuss your viewpoints openly, without fear of repercussions, will strengthen your marriage.
- Humor: If used correctly, humor can make any situation lighter and even helps defuse uncomfortable situations. We can’t be serious all the time. We need laughter and levity to bring a healthy balance to all situations, including marriage.
Likewise, married couples should consider a similar “team approach” to their financial life together — one with a strong game plan, goals, and objectives. Here are the 5 must-have ingredients for making the most of a Marriage’s Financial Game Plan:
- Be prepared for the unexpected. We know life is always throwing us curve balls so we need to do as much advance planning as we possibly can — now, not later. So take the time to update your wills, prepare living wills, and establish your powers of attorney (medical, business, and durable) at the early stage of your marriage, and then revisit them every 5-10 years for updates. Having these documents in place will alleviate a huge burden in your financial life as a couple, giving you much financial peace of mind. After all, happiness doesn’t come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.
- Maximize your retirement contributions. Both spouses should strive to take full advantage of the best retirement “match” offered by their employers in their 401(k) plans. It’s free money that will grow exponentially for you in a tax-savings account. For entrepreneurs or self-employed spouses, strive to make at least an annual contribution to your Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) at the end of every calendar year. Remember that if you are over 50 years of age, you are eligible to and even more money as a “Catch up provision” to your 401(k) and IRA accounts!
- Strategize how to pay for your healthcare, if one or both of you choose to retire before the Medicare eligible age of 65. Healthcare costs continue to rise every year and there is no indication of it stopping. If you choose to retire prior to the Medicare eligible age of 65 and need to purchase your own coverage, costs could range between $500 and $1,500 per month not including deductibles on your insurance. These added expenses could significantly impact your savings and may cause you to need to delay your retirement until age 65 when Medicare starts.
- Eliminate any large debt you are carrying, such as a mortgage or student loans. Yes, it’s true! Some retirees carry student loans into retirement if they chose to go back to school later in life. One client of mine decided to enter Law school in her mid-fifties and now in her early sixties, she is saddled with the burden of student loans.
- With the help of a professional advisor, craft a “Surviving Spouse” Financial Plan to allow the surviving spouse to remain in the quality of life that they have grown accustom to living in. Have a checklist kept in a safe place so that person knows exactly what actions to take and when. The grieving process is a difficult one, but knowing what, when, and how to navigate the financial impact is essential. Check out FPA’s Survivor’s Financial Checklist for guidance.
To learn more about structuring a financial game plan for your future, contact any member of the McKinley Carter Wealth Services advisory team.