Page 16 THE VILLADOM TIMES I & III • June 24, 2009 Summer WEDDINGPlanner 2009 security in any economy, think about your financial future today. The good news is that taking the necessary steps to a sound financial future is not as complicated as you might think. Here are some things to discuss as a couple, as suggested by financial experts at SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Company, Inc: Determine a budget. You may have your own budget, but now you are planning income and expenses for two. If you combine your income and expenses, you will need to combine your budgets as well. Be prudent with your spending. Write down everything each of you spends per month and cut back on non-essentials. Take into account housing, food, utilities, transportation, student loans, credit card balances, car payments, taxes, and (if applicable) alimony and child support. Begin an emergency fund. An emergency fund helps ensure that you and your partner are secure should something happen, such as a job loss or serious health issue. You should agree on how much you want to save for a “rainy day.” It’s a smart idea to save between five and 10 percent of your salary in a joint savings account. To avoid the temptation to spend your savings, consider having the money automatically transferred from your checking accounts. Aim to save three to six months of living expenses. Purchase life insurance. According to a study conducted by LIMRA International, 48 million Americans do not own life insurance and believe they should or own life insurance and believe they need more. Purchasing life insurance will give you the peace of mind of knowing your loved ones will have money to help maintain their standard of living should anything happen to you. Create a plan for the future. Take the time to create a written financial plan with clear goals. The plan should include specific and realistic steps to achieve your dreams, including buying a home, starting a family, taking vacations, and retiring. Decide what additional investments you would like to make apart from your regular savings such as maximizing your 401(k) or IRA contributions. Keep track of your expenses and investments. Decide what your tax filing status will be for the year. Make sure you consider the difference between married filing separate versus joint filing, based upon your particular circumstances. Consult your tax advisor if you are unsure. Pay down debt. Credit card debt is the number one obstacle to a secure financial future, and knowing both of your credit scores is essential. You are allowed one free credit check annually with each of the major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Order reports and go through and correct any inaccuracies. This will help you both get a loan at a lower rate when it comes time to borrow money for a house, car, or other major purchase. Getting married is an opportunity to get a fresh start on your financial well being. These types of wealth-building efforts are extremely beneficial, and create a solid foundation to a long, happy marriage. (ARA) Planning for a wedding can be tough, especially when money is tight. But as you make your way through the mile-long checklist of things for the big day, make sure you think about life after the wedding. Whether this is your first or second wedding, your dream wedding or a spontaneous ceremony, the financial implications of sharing a lifetime with another person last long after the wedding vows. 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