You almost gave up hope that you would meet Mr. Right. Or maybe it is Ms. Right. However fate struck lightning and you finally met the person that you are convinced you were meant to spend the rest of your life. At some point, reality sets in as the wedding date gets closer and it starts to dawn on your that there may be real discussions that need to be had around money and financial goals. Not something you typically discuss when you are enjoying fine dining, front row concerts, and swanky hotels on the beach.
Remember, everybody has a financial story. Especially the person that you are about to wed. It is important to peel back the artichoke to better understand your partner’s attitudes and feelings around money and planning for overall financial goals. Here are my five smart money move financial considerations for those that are getting married for the first time after 40.
- Should you get a pre-nup? This is a super tricky questions, so I’ll say it depends. I am more certain that this makes sense if your spouse is coming into the relationship with kids from a prior marriage. This way the assets stay fairly clean on paper. If neither of you have any prior baggage, you’ll need to have a frank discussion about whether it all goes into one pot or what yours is yours from before the marriage and then we will build all of our assets together going forward. This is an even more difficult conversation if you have an equity stake in a business.
- Should you rent the extra house or keep it? Often, both partners will have a home or a condominium so you will need to figure out where you are going to live. Let’s say your equity is $60,000 net in the other house. If you found that money in your bank account tomorrow, would you go buy a rental property? Will the rental property provide you with significant tax savings? Do you want to be a landlord? All great questions to be asking yourself as a couple.
- Who will pay the bills? When individuals get married later in life, they have generally built up a definite patter about how they handle their individual finances. Since both partners have likely been paying their own bills for many years, they should consider who will actually be the day to day CFO of the family finances after wedlock. This can create a much better flow and help with family financial accountability.
- How will you maintain your financial independence? One of the most important considerations in my mind is how the newlywed couple will handle maintaining their personal ‘money’ independence while also beginning to merge the overall family finances. Will you still maintain a separate credit card and checking account so you can buy your partner a birthday gift without them knowing? Will you have one centralized money market account?
- Kids, kids, kids… Since you are over the age of 40, the kid’s discussion (if there are none from a prior relationship) is a very large rock in the overall financial picture. If you have kids, will one of you lose that high paying job? Have you considered all of the free time you have had to yourself for the past 15 years and what it will mean to have kids? In addition, there are financial instruments outside of the traditional college savings plans that people over 40 should consider because they may turn 59 ½ before the kids go to college.
Getting married later in life presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. If you ask the right questions and create a mutually agreed upon plan, you’ll have much smoother sailing down the road.
Written by: Ted Jenkin
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