Same-Sex Wedding Planning Guide Part 1 of 2

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Get your marriage started on solid financial ground with these pre-wedding basics

Marriage means more than love and vows. All couples tying the knot should understand the financial implications of their nuptials.

Here’s our advice, whether you’re a newly engaged couple or considering the benefits of marriage over a domestic partnership, including more than 1,000 federal legal benefits, such as rights to inherit and the tax-free transfer of assets.

When it comes to financial considerations, we have some tips to help you plan your wedding, talk about money with your intended spouse and, of course, plan for that “happily ever after” that kicks in post-honeymoon. We’ve divided this advice into three because we’re bankers and bankers like phases.

Before you plan the wedding, talk the money talk.

Picking dates, touring venues and tasting cakes can be exciting, but all of those things eventually going to come down to your budget. Here’s a quick checklist of things you and your soon-to-be spouse should discuss before you start planning. Trust us, it’s all going to come up eventually. Schedule time to talk about the following topics:

Debt.

According to a July 2015 study by Pew Charitable Trusts, 80 percent of Americans have debt. And not all debt is created equal. The most common debt is a mortgage, but a 2013 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances found that 38.1 percent of Americans have credit card debt, averaging $5,700. Go through this list:

 

  • Mortgages and home equity loans
  • Credit card debt
  • Student loan debt
  • Auto loans
  • Other loans
  • Even if you don’t combine bank accounts with your spouse, the law considers their debt to be your debt and vice versa. Get your numbers, add them up and look at your debt as a whole. It’s a good time to start prioritizing what you want to pay down together, too, based on interest rates and other factors.

     

    Credit.

    Your spouse’s credit history has no immediate impact on yours, but it will come into play if and when you open joint accounts in the future, such as a mortgage account. This is a good thing to know about your partner.

    Cash flow.

    This is the easiest one, but also the one couples can be most hesitant to talk about. How much money do you make, and how much do you pay out in monthly, annual or other periodic bills? People sometimes get emotional about how much money they make, so be sure to focus on the math problem and not whether the income number is good or bad.

    Assets, expected assets and policies.

    This is the last one. Discuss your savings, your 401(k) plans and any life insurance or other policies from which your spouse might benefit. Do you or your spouse expect to inherit? Ensure you have a clear picture of your combined financial prospects.

    Read our Same-Sex Wedding Planning Guide Part 2 for tips on money matters for the actual event and life together afterwards.

    Our financial advisors can help you and your future spouse make smart decisions together. Find a U.S. Bank Financial Advisor near you.