Valentine’s Day is often associated with flowers, hearts and candy. Romantic dinners are common. Perhaps the most romantic thing a couple can do for each other is to ensure that they are on track financially. Being financially secure can enable you to do the things you want to do as a couple such as travel, buying your dream home, dining out and most importantly achieving financial independence. Here are some steps to consider in doing a couple’s financial checkup.
Have your lives changed recently?
This could entail any number of changes. Did you give birth to a child, or perhaps you adopted one? Do either of you have a new job? Did you receive an influx of money from an inheritance or perhaps a bonus from one of your jobs? Did either of you lose your job?
These are just a few of the life changes that could have either a positive or negative impact on your financial situation as a couple.
Review Your Budget and Spending
If you have established a spending budget in the past, review your current monthly spending against your budget. Are you staying within your budget or are you overspending in most months? If the latter, you need to review your spending and see what, if any, adjustments can be made.
If you do not have a budget in place, this should be a top priority for this financial review. You need a budget, and you need to monitor spending to ensure that you stay within your budget.
Review Your Financial Goals
If you have previously set financial goals as a couple, this is the time to review your progress towards those goals. These might include saving for your children’s education, saving for a down payment on your dream home, contributing to your 401(k)s at work and a host of others.
Are you on track towards your goals? Do you need to add any new goals? If you are behind on any of your goals, what can you do to get back on track?
Review Your Debt
This is a good time to review all debts. This might include a mortgage on your home or perhaps a second home you own. Do you have consumer debt? Student loan debt? You want to be sure that your debt is under control and that you have a plan to pay this debt down.
Review Your Retirement Savings
Are you both contributing to your retirement? If you have access to a 401(k) or similar workplace retirement plan, be sure that you are contributing as much as possible. Consider adding to your IRAs. If you are self-employed or have a side gig, be sure to look at funding a self-employed retirement plan such as a solo 401(k) or SEP-IRA.
Review Your Investments
How are your investments doing? Do you have an asset allocation plan in place, and do you rebalance your portfolio on a periodic basis? You should review your overall portfolio including any taxable accounts as well as investment held in a 401(k) or an IRA.
Review Your Estate Plan
Do you have an estate plan in place? At the very least you should have a will and be sure that assets such as your home are titled properly to ensure they are passed on to the desired heirs. Often this will be your spouse if you are married.
Depending upon your situation and the types of assets you own together, it is important to be sure you have a plan in place to pass these assets on to your desired heirs in the event of the death of one or both of you. Especially with minor children, you want to be sure that they are taken care of if one or both of you should die.
A big part of basic estate planning is ensuring that all beneficiary designations are up to date. This includes retirement plan accounts such as a 401(k), all IRAs, any life insurance policies and any annuities that either of you may have.
Speaking of life insurance, you will want to review any life insurance policies that are in place to ensure that you have adequate protection for each other and your family in the event that one of you dies.
Review Your Tax Situation
The beginning of the year is also time to get ready to file your taxes for the prior year. How does your tax situation look? Are you taking all deductions you might be eligible for? Are there other moves you can make to reduce your tax liability in the new year?
Be sure that you are doing all that you can to manage your tax liability this year.
Set a Date for Your Next Review
Doing a couple’s financial review is great. But only doing it once really does not help much. Be sure to make this review a regular thing. Annually might be fine; perhaps you want to look at your finances more often such as semi-annually or quarterly if needed. Figure out what works best for you.
You do not have to go at this alone. Your Wedbush financial advisor can help, just reach out to them and tell them you want help reviewing your financial situation.
Securities and Investment Advisory services offered through Wedbush Securities, Inc. Member NYSE / FINRA / SIPC.
Wedbush Securities does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal advisor.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information presented is not intended to constitute an investment recommendation for, or advice to, any specific person. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.