Finding the right balance in love and money

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Money and marriage don't always mix well, no matter the size of the bank accounts.

That's why it's important, before you get into a serious relationship with someone, to discuss those long-term financial goals.

Dan Ament, Financial advisor with Morgan Stanley, spoke on KARE 11 Sunrise about some tips to get that talk started.

Have "the talk" – Tell each other where your key financial information (like checking, savings, and investment accounts, mortgages, insurance, etc.), and important non-financial information and valuables (like birth/marriage certificates, titles/deeds for house/cars, jewelry, safe deposit key, etc.) are located. It's important to understand each other's financial dreams and plans, so that you know exactly what to do in any unforeseen situation.

Meld Your Financial Responsibilities – While your chemistry may be great as a couple, take steps to make sure your finances mesh well together too. Avoid unnecessary arguments or confusion down the road by determining upfront your spending and saving habits, whether you'll open a joint checking account and if the responsibility of paying the bills will fall to one person or be handled together. The key is clear communication with one another.

Contribute to an emergency savings fund – A financial rainy day is never in the forecast, so it's important to always have some savings set aside to pay for the unexpected. How much? Calculate your monthly expenses and determine how much you would need if you unexpectedly lost a job or faced a large financial obligation.

Get life insurance – If you have someone who depends on you financially, you need life insurance. According to LIMRA International, today's average married couple has less than half the amount of life insurance coverage experts recommend. For husbands, it's just enough to replace their income for just 4.2 years and for wives for 4.9 years. Adequate life insurance coverage provides peace of mind, knowing the ones you love will be financially secure when you die.

Evaluate disability insurance – According to the LIFE Foundation, 70% of working adults say they could only afford to take off one month or less of unpaid vacation before everyday expenses would force them to return to work, but reality is, nearly one out of every three workers over the age of 30 will suffer a disability lasting three months or more at some point in their career. Your ability to work and earn an income is one of your greatest assets and must be protected to ensure added financial strain doesn't fall on your household.

Where there's a will, there's a way – If you're married, now's the time to put in place a will, which specifies how one's estate will be managed after death and designates executors, guardians and trustees. And don't forget to get a living will, too, to make sure your spouse knows whether or not you want to be kept on artificial life support. You and your spouse should also designate a power of attorney – someone authorized to manage your affairs, typically financial ones, if you're not able to handle them yourself.

Money problems cited often in divorce – Couples who reported disagreeing about finances once a week were over 30 percent more likely to divorce over time than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times per month.

You can also use a Family Records Organizer to keep everything together.


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