Recently married? Congratulations! Now that you’ve officially pulled off the feat of planning and preparation that is required of a modern wedding and you can call yourselves newlyweds, it’s time to start thinking about a different kind of planning. That’s financial planning, and it’s crucial to do in order to meet all those big goals you and your new spouse have for your lives together. Dealing with your finances as newlyweds can seem intimidating. But financially-savvy couples know that the most important thing you can do is to just get started. Taking some simple actions now can pay big dividends in the future. With that in mind, consider these tips on investing so your happily ever after can include financial success.
Start with the Basics
If you don’t know anything about finances or investing, recognize that you need to increase your financial literacy. Ask for help from a professional, start reading up on personal finance books, and look into educational courses on money and investments that you can take together. You don’t need to be financial experts before you start investing, but you do need to understand the fundamentals so you aren’t throwing your money around blindly. Start by reading this post on Basic Investing Terms You Should Know along with the follow up post.
Claim Free Money
The best place to start investing is with employer-sponsored retirement accounts. Retirement accounts like 401(k)s often come with a company match. And that’s free money on the table for you and your spouse. Contributing at least enough to secure the match will require you to contribute a certain amount of your base pay up to a pre-set limit and the company will match your contribution with funds of their own (i.e. your employer will match 50% of your personal contribution to your 401(k) up to 6% of your salary). This is an added perk that comes along with your salary and can help to put some extra dollars towards your retirement.
Max Out Accounts on Your Own
Once you’ve taken advantage of any employer match on your 401(k), it’s time to look at an IRA. An IRA, or individual retirement account, is an account you can open and contribute to independently of any employer. Aim to max out either a Roth IRA or traditional IRA; the maximum for 2014 on both these accounts is $5,500. And if you’re self-employed look into the retirement plans available for entrepreneurs and consider going with a SEP IRA . You can contribute 20% of your earnings to a SEP IRA if you’re a sole proprietorship. This can offer some serious self-employment tax savings, as SEPs are tax-deferred (meaning you’re not taxed until you withdraw your money).
Take Advantage of Two Salaries to Boost Your Contributions
As newlyweds, you just doubled your household income if both you and your spouse bring home a paycheck. Instead of giving in to lifestyle inflation and increasing your spending as you increase your income, establish a budget that uses just one partner’s salary for expenses. In other words, live off one salary – and try to bank the second salary to boost your investment contributions.
The couple that learns about money together stays together! Sure, it sounds a little silly, but communicating and constantly adding to your financial knowledge as a couple goes a long way. Disagreements and misunderstandings about money lead to serious marital stress. Remember that you and your new spouse are a team and you’re working together toward what you want to achieve in life. It’s up to you to secure an ideal, secure retirement for the two of you. No one else is going to take care of your financial needs in the future, so it’s important that you plan ahead and start saving now. Thanks to the power of compound interest, your 20s and 30s are your prime savings years. Don’t believe me? Check out the example below: If you start saving $200 / month from age 25 to age 65, assuming you earn 7% a year, you’ll have $524,962 at age 65. If you delay and start saving $200 / month from age 35 to age 65, assuming you earn 7% a year, you’ll have $243,995 at age 65. That’s a $280,000 difference! Even if you can’t afford to put away too much for the future right away, remember that every little bit helps! Again, the most important thing is that you just get started as soon as possible if you want to reach your idea of financial success in this life you’re building together.