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#1  74% of couples will have debt due to their wedding
Taking on debt to pay for a wedding can make it all too easy to run over budget. It also adds a new expense: interest charges. Yet two forms of debt, credit cards and personal loans, were among the most popular selections when respondents were asked how they were paying for their nuptials.
Only 27% said they plan to stay out of debt while paying for their wedding. The other 74% expect to take on some debt to help cover costs.

​#2 Credit cards are the second-most popular way to pay for a wedding
When it comes to the most common sources of funding, credit cards came second only to savings. Sixty-one percent of respondents said they planned to pull out the plastic to cover expenses.
Using a credit card doesn’t always mean getting into debt, however. Additional questions gave us insight into how couples plan to use their credit cards.

#3 Update Single to Joint Accounts 

Additionally, the following accounts need to be updated to reflect your spouse as the new beneficiary or transfer on death designation:
- Existing Checking/Savings Account
- Life Insurance: Employer-based and stand alone policy if you already have one
- Investments: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.
- Retirement Accounts: 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, 403(b)
- Military Benefits
- Pension: SEP / SARSEP
- Trusts
- Property, titles, and assets that might currently name someone else as the beneficiary (Example: You named a sibling to receive a benefit that your spouse should now be getting)

#4 Consolidate to Save Cash

Here are some accounts you might consider creating or consolidating now that you’re hitched:
- Open Joint Banking Account/Credit Cards: Start off by filling it with the wedding gift money...if you didn’t spend it all on the honeymoon.
- Health Insurance: Marriage qualifies as a special enrollment period so sign up as soon as you can.
- Car Insurance: Look into getting a family (a.k.a. umbrella) plan for your household; if the rates are better than what you’re currently paying for stand-alone coverage, go for it.
- Mobile Phone Plan: See “car insurance” above. If you don’t feel like moving your eyes a few inches up this page here’s the jist: If a family plan has a better rate, do it up.
- Re-Title Property Ownership Documents: This applies to homes, cars, or other titled assets (usually these pass to your spouse if something happens to you, but better safe…)
- Duplicate Accounts/Services: Do you need two Costco accounts? Two Netflix or Amazon Prime accounts? Consolidate these down so you’re not paying for the same thing twice.

#5 Emergency planning

(Wills, POA and Medical Directives)

Compared to planning a wedding, getting a Will in place is a piece of cake. If there will be babies in your future, or you already have kids, this is where you name the all-important guardian.

If you currently have a Will, update it to account for your new better half. It’s best to meet with an estate attorney to make sure everything’s done right -- most attorneys can also safely store the official, signed copy of the Will as well. As an added benefit, by hiring a professional you can take care of the next thing on this list too.

Your Power Of Attorney (POA) has power over everything involving your finances. This includes paying bills, managing bank accounts, overseeing investments, signing contracts, and filing your taxes. We recommend meeting with an estate attorney, ideally when you’re creating your Will, to make sure it’s done right.

The last thing you want to think about right now are the medical decisions you might have to make if you or your spouse gets sick or is the victim of an accident. However, it’s best to make these decisions when you’re happy and healthy.

Creating an Advance Directive, which is comprised of your Living Will and naming a Health Care Proxy, is simple and painless. Not creating one can be difficult and painful should the situation arise rest easy knowing you just took a huge burden off your family’s shoulders.

#6 Name Changes and Important Documents

We accumulate a lot of identification and official documentation throughout our lives. Now’s the time to get it all sorted and organized in case you need it to buy a house, get insurance, or do other adult things. Here’s a rundown:

Marriage Certificate
Birth Certificate
Social Security Card (or a place where you spouse can easily find your social security number)
Armed Forces ID / Discharge Papers
Citizenship Documentation
Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement
Divorce Decree (from previous marriages)
Documents related to any children you already have (example: adoption or legal guardianship papers)

Be sure to take care of all documents that require a name change.  Some examples are: Social Security Cards, Driver's licenses, passports, financial accounts, and even utility bills are extremely important.


#7 Digital Love

Sharing passcodes and passwords to the following devices and systems is extremely helpful. It can also prevent lots of headaches if one of you can never seem to remember the Wifi password:
Mobile Phone(s)
Home Security System
Along these lines, there are also a bunch of digital accounts and online services you’ll be sharing with your spouse to make sure the household runs smoothly. Here’s a quick rundown of such things:
Password Manager: If you use a password manager, and you probably should, your master password is the most important one to share.
Home Utilities: Power, cable, phone, etc.
Health / Medical: insurance provider, prescription services
Financial / Money Management: Auto-payments, budgeting
Entertainment: video, music, gaming
Food / Shopping / Delivery Services
Cloud Storage: Photos, media
Travel / Ticketing / Rewards: frequent flyer miles, reward points

#8 Growing Cash and Assets

More than half of married couples are not prepared for unexpected expenses. 32 percent of married couples are not prepared for insufficient savings. It makes sense—most people get stressed out just thinking about their own finances, let alone combined checking accounts and budgets. 

One study from the National Marriage Project found that couples who fight about finances once a week were more than 30 percent more likely to divorce that those who had fewer disputes.  It is important to create a growing and cash assets.

Dr. Shena Dixon Mason, Esq. (Mrs. Virginia 2016 and Mrs. District of Columbia 2017) and Chris Hawkins, ShowBro on Hampton Roads Show

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Business and Family Attorney Shena Mason and Mrs. Virginia andThe Capital Area Pageant Organization are here to help! 

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