Getting married, buying a home, and starting a family are the goals of many Americans, but it can be difficult to know where to begin when it’s time to start planning for the future. Saving money isn’t as easy for some families as it is for others, and there are a lot of things to think about where kids and a home are concerned.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can start planning no matter what stage you’re at. Sit down with your partner and think about what you both want; write down some ideas and remember to be open to new things.
Here are some things to think about.
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Talk about your goals
It’s important to make the first step in the planning process a productive one. Sit down with your spouse and talk about where you see yourselves in five or ten years. What are your immediate goals, and what can wait until a little later down the road, such as home remodels? Do you want to start a family right away, or wait a little while? Talk through your thoughts on timing for major financial decisions and the best ways to start saving.
Look at your assets
It’s important to take a good look at your assets to figure out what your estate is worth and what sort of plans you’ll need to make in the event of your untimely death. While it’s not something most people like to think about, it’s important to be knowledgeable about what you have at your disposal and what will need to be taken care of in the future. This includes debts, any property you own, cars, and personal belongings that have value.
After this is done, consider making out a will or living trust. This is especially important if you have kids or are planning to have them. The major difference between a will and a living trust is that trusts don’t require an estate to go through a lengthy probate process.
It might seem easier said than done, but it’s imperative to start a savings account if you haven’t already. Even if you can only contribute a little every payday, open up an account and make a promise to yourself to maintain it. It’s a good idea to think about what the money will be for, and if necessary, open up a few accounts for different things. For instance, start a college fund for your children, another for emergencies, and another for long-term goals, such as buying a home.
You might also consider investing in real estate or a low-risk money market fund. While some of these investments might not yield a high return, you can build up a portfolio that will help down the road.
Make a budget
It’s important to establish a budget with your spouse so that both of you are on the same page. Take a look at your monthly expenses and compare that to what you both bring home, and talk about ways you could cut back if necessary.
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Consider joining your bank accounts
Some finance experts believe that it’s best to join your bank accounts after you’re married to provide a sense of unity and stay on top of where your finances are. It can be difficult to keep track of spending when there are multiple accounts.
Remember that planning for the future should be a joint effort, and this is a time when you and your spouse can really join together for something positive. Make an effort to be a good listener, share your ideas in a constructive way, and stay open-minded.