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The face of marriage is changing in the U.S. A recent study published by the Census Bureau revealed that marriage rates fell by three percent between 2000 and 2010. While a drop from 57 to 54 percent may seem mild, the effects have been staggering in the real estate market, a defining factor in our economy. So, why are couples waiting to get married? Analysts cite financial hardship as the main culprit. Unemployment, rising costs and credit card debt are just a few of the reasons the newly-betrothed are delaying their happiness. If you are struggling with similar issues, read on to learn some tips surrounding marriage and financial stability. While it may not feel like it, it is possible to have both.

If you are ready to get married but are worried about the costs, why not:

  • Skip the wedding (keep the reception). The average wedding cost more than $28,000 in 2012, a hefty sum for any couple. Consider putting your cash to greater use by holding a small ceremony (just family) and a large reception for friends as well. Ask your parents to host the party or find an affordable venue that doesn’t require equipment rentals or decorating (e.g., a restaurant or local garden). This strategy will allow you to celebrate on a budget and still register for gifts. It’s a win-win.
  • Prioritize the important things. Affordability isn’t the only factor in wedding postponement. Many couples are worried about the responsibilities that follow rather than the nuptials themselves. Buying a house and having children are at the top of the list. These life events are expensive, leading some to delay marriage based on anxiety of the unknown. Despite your feelings, the act of marriage doesn’t have to become a catalyst of additional change. Discuss long-term goals with your spouse before getting married. Determining the “when’s” and “how’s” will help you decide the right time to solidify your relationship.
  • Create a newlywed budget. While you’re planning for a house and kids, why not take a look at your budgetNearly 70 percent of married couples will live together before walking down the aisle, and whether or not you cohabitate before saying “I do,” it’s important to establish a budget as a married couple. Ask yourself some essential questions:

o    What is our combined net income?

o    How much can we afford to spend on housing? Utilities? Entertainment?

o    Do we overspend? Where can we afford to cut back?

o    How much have we saved? Can we afford to do more?

o    Do we have life insurance? Should we get some?

These preliminary questions will open the door to financial communication and shed light on essential spending. Don’t wait to have this conversation.

  • Learn about marital perks. Marital bliss isn’t limited to feelings of love. There are plenty of perks that can save you big bucks every year, including:

o    Taxes. The IRS provides a complete list of deductions and benefits surrounding marriage. Be sure to take advantage of all the freebies afforded in your relationship.

o    Health insurance. Does your spouse have an amazing health plan? Great! Now you can take advantage of it, too. Comprehensive coverage can easily save hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year. HIPAA laws provide a 30-day enrollment period for new spouses after the wedding. Don’t forget to make the appropriate changes in your life.

o    Accountability. A single person can spend without accountability, but it’s a different story when you share finances. Gone are the days of shopping sprees, expensive lunches with coworkers and other impulsive purchases. While it may seem like a drag, holding yourself accountable is the perfect way to mature as a couple. Talk about your financial goals and commit. The result will bring you closer together.

Posted in June 19th