(ARA) - Your wedding is sure to be the happiest day of your life, but marriage stretches well beyond those 24 hours. Merging your lives as husband and wife starts even before you say your "I do's" and will require some effort and patience - which will be good practice for your future life together.
The technical side of getting married can be a little confusing, so seeking advice from friends and family is a good idea. However, there will be some questions that might need professional advice, so don't be afraid to consult the pros when necessary. As you start your journey through life together, keep these key tasks in mind to make sure you're well prepared.
* Discuss your finances. Having an open and honest discussion with your fiance about finances is very important, and it should include the bad with the good. Because you're getting married, you'll be with each other through thick and thin, so having a forthright conversation about money ahead of time is a good idea. If you have debt, discuss how much and how you'll pay it off, but you'll also need to talk about things like creating joint accounts, as well as how and whether you want to divide or share money. Understanding your credit portfolio and status as well as protecting against identity theft should also be part of the discussion - and credit monitoring products like the Equifax Complete(TM) Family Plan enable married couples to see alerts for each spouse's accounts when changes occur to their credit files, helping to keep track of potential impacts to their credit histories while detecting potential identity fraud.
* Prep for taxes. Married couples can file taxes jointly or separately, and you'll need to consider which approach is the best option for you. Seek the advice of a tax preparer or financial adviser who can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages and the adjustments you'll need to make for your W-2 form. Keep in mind that if you're married before December 31 of the year for which you're filing taxes, you qualify as having been married for the entire year.
* Talk about bills. As much as you can count on taxes, you can also count on bills. Whether they're monthly, quarterly or annually issued, you need to figure out who will take care of which bills and where the money will come from. Setting up autopay can lessen the bill-paying chore list. You should also make sure that both spouses' names are on the appropriate accounts. Even if you use autopay, it's important to check in on your accounts to make sure that nothing is going wrong.
* Make decisions about moving. If you're living separately prior to getting married, you'll need to decide which home you'll live in. For some couples, this might mean selling a house, while for others it might mean leaving rentals behind and looking for a home to buy. When you're discussing homes and moving, talk about how your feelings regarding moving away from your current home city, in case you're ever offered a job transfer opportunity.
* Get insurance in order. Meet with your insurance agent or agents to go over your current plans and add your spouse to them. There may be advantages to using one insurer for all of your policies, so if you are currently with different insurers, speak to each to see where you'll get the best deal. You should also explore your options for health care - one spouse's employer might offer a better plan than the other.
Taking care of these practical financial tasks might seem less than exciting compared to the thrill of your wedding day, but getting them done right is important. Since finances are a notorious source of stress, having a clear understanding with your spouse will ensure that you have a good foundation for your marriage. For more information on tools to monitor your credit and help protect against identity theft, go to www.equifax.com.