60-Second Guide to Cashing In on Coupledom
No one is happier to see you married than your mother. But your insurance agent is pretty giddy, too.
Car insurers see stability -- and, thus, safer driving -- in matrimony, and so they reward folks who tie the knot by giving them lower premiums. Further discounts come to couples who combine auto policies with renters' or homeowners' coverage at a single company, because doing so makes you a bigger and better customer. We're serious: Call and brag to your insurance company about your new matrimonial status and ask about all the ways you can use it to cut your premiums.
But insurance isn't the only place to score some savings. Here's a one-minute rundown of the top places where twosomes can cash in:
0:60: Cherry-pick the best at-work benefits: Now that you're hitched, you have two benefits packages to choose from -- unless you work at the same place and are "that cute married couple from accounting that met by the fax machine." Closely compare benefit plans for duplication, particularly in your health-care options. See whether one of your plans offers superior benefits in areas that matter to you, whether it be supplemental life insurance or dental care for the dog. All else being equal, see whether you can save money by getting coverage on just one of your plans or whether single coverage at your separate workplaces is a better deal. Some employers offer a stipend for married workers who forgo the family coverage, for example.
0:51: Demand better bank service: No matter what banking setup you two kids choose -- a single combined account; two separate accounts; his, hers, and ours -- be sure that your bank knows you're legally bound. Accounts that are linked may qualify for lower fees or higher interest rates and usually require a minimum deposit across accounts.
0:45: Supersize your everyday savings: Sharing dishwashing duty is only part of living under a single roof. Now you get to split the cable bill, the newspaper subscription, and lawn-care charges! Also take advantage of being a bigger consumer by buying the half-gallon rather than the quart of milk, the case of wine, or the really big bag of Doritos. (Foolish aside: Don't assume bigger is cheaper. Use the per-unit price to guide your spending decisions.) As for those long-term money decisions ...
0:37: Double your long-term savings resolve: Investing for the future is an important part of cash management in coupledom. Perhaps you want to buy a home, put some puppies through college, or actually retire when you're ready to stop working. Now you've got someone to help you keep your resolve and really save for your blissful happily-ever-after.
0:30: Turn into a two-headed investing monster: To reap the deep and lasting benefits of investing as a couple, here are a few pointers:
- Set goals: List your top mid-term goals (one to three years away) and long-term goals (three or more years from now) that get you both excited to save. As best you can (our calculators can help), figure out how much money you'll need to achieve those goals. With your savings targets in place, you're ready to maximize your return on every dollar.
- Come up with a savings game plan: Now it's time to review what you two have already stashed away, both in your premarital savings and in that heart-shaped piggy bank on your dresser. Also review your respective work retirement plans and make sure you're taking advantage of whatever benefits your employers offer, such as a company match. You won't have joint IRAs, but you might consider that cash "our" money, which leads to the next important step ...
- Establish investing ground rules: Rules aren't just about not blowing Junior's college fund on the mother of all happy hours. Come up with an agreed-to dollar amount for the investment account and an assessment of each partner's risk level. The good news is that your differences of opinion -- she likes stocks, he likes bonds -- may actually improve your investment returns if you play to each other's strengths. So let the worrywart temper the daredevil's trade-happy (and fee-heavy) tendencies, and let the risk-taker inspire the overly timid investor to step slightly out of his or her comfort zone.
0:18: Celebrate growth: Relationships are a lot like the stock market: Neither is immune to rocky times, but they also reward those who stick it out over the long term.
At The Motley Fool, we're all about the buy-and-hold portfolio strategy, and even though it strays a bit from our area of expertise, we're also all for soulmates who stick together through thick and thin. It's nice to know that each approach pays ample rewards.
More money advice for twosomes: