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Protect your financial health before you walk down the aisle


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February is the month of love and one of the most popular times for couples to get engaged. According to a recent study, 36% of respondents said Valentine’s Day is the most romantic day to propose.

The Clay Bridal Spectacular Expo is coming to the Thrasher-Horne Center on Feb. 26, so if you’re about to get married or just walked down the aisle, here are five things to do to ensure your financial health.

First, determine how you will handle finances. They say money can’t buy love and happiness, but talking about it in a marriage or beforehand goes a long way. You’ll want to discuss whether you’ll have a joint bank account and credit cards, separate accounts, or a combination of the two. It’s a personal decision, so consider the pros and cons.

It’s also a good idea to know the roles you will play. For example, will you or your partner pay the day-to-day bills? The other person may want to manage the monthly mortgage, auto expenses, or long-term investments and retirement funds. If you need help with a plan, you may want to seek the advice of a financial counselor.

Second, get insurance. You may not realize that February is also Insure Your Love Month, a time to consider protecting your loved ones if something unfortunate happens. “If you have people who depend on you – including your new spouse – chances are you need life insurance,” said Lou Colaizzo, senior vice president Erie Family Life. “While it’s hard to think about the possibility of not being there for a loved one, it’s so important to plan for.”

Colaizzo said some people might hesitate to seek out life insurance because they don’t want to get a medical exam, but that’s not always necessary. For example, Erie Insurance has a policy called ERIExpress Life, which may protect with a simple application process and no physical medical exam. Colaizzo recommends people consult with their insurance agent to find the right life insurance policy and coverage amount that’s best for them.

Third, protect your bling. Chances are you spent a lot of time and money picking out rings you’ll love and wear daily. Unfortunately, burglaries are more common than you may think. According to the FBI, there were more than 1.1 million burglaries in 2019.

Protect your wedding jewelry, and any other expensive jewelry, by adding these items to your homeowners or renter’s policy. It is advisable to have photos and documentation of the value of the ring and other valuable jewelry in the event of a theft or a loss.

Fourth, update your car insurance. Notify your agent to ensure you’re both covered to drive each other’s cars. You may also be eligible for savings, such as a multi-car discount or bundling your car insurance with homeowners and/or life insurance. Additionally, some insurance companies offer a lower rate for married couples.

Fifth, make updates to your records if you change your last name. It’s a big decision and takes a lot of work if one of you changes your name after marriage. Being patient and diligent is important as the entire process may take several months. Remember to update all the appropriate forms, including a new Social Security card, driver’s license, passport, bank accounts and credit cards, among other considerations. Additionally, notify your employer for payroll and health insurance coverage updates.

Getting married is an exciting, big life event. While you and your partner start your new life together, have an open conversation about financial considerations and double-check to make sure you’re covered to protect the life you’re building.