After the party is over and the thank you notes have been sent out, it is time to settle into your day-to-day life with your husband or wife. However, there are at least five important issues that you should discuss with each other in order to plan a better future.
- Discuss your goals. You may have done this prior to your marriage; however, sit down with your spouse, share your plans for the future, and don’t forget to write everything down. For example, do you want children? Do you want to purchase a new home? Once you have everything written down, you are ready for the next step.
- Plan how you are going to get there. If you know what you want, but don’t have a plan detailing how you are going to get it, you have little more than a pipe dream. Make your goals specific, and set a realistic timeline. For example, instead of saying that you want to purchase a house someday, say that you want you buy a house three years from now. While it may be difficult to plan for tomorrow in today’s money, you should write down the percentage of your income that would be in your comfort zone as far as a mortgage payment is concerned.
- Set up a will and power of attorney. You may be young and healthy now, but you never know what the future may hold. No one likes to think about the prospect of illness or death; unfortunately, either could happen when you least expect. Unless you would rather have the state determine the manner in which your assets are distributed, your best bet is to consult an attorney, who will be able to best advise you.
- Discuss how you will handle your money. Will you combine funds, or will you keep separate accounts? Who will be responsible for certain bills? What amount will come out of each paycheck in order to cover monthly expenses? It is best to discuss these things early on in order to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Protect your income. This is last in the list, but it is certainly not least. Life insurance is an integral part of any plan for the future. If you should pass unexpectedly, you would want to know that your husband or wife would be protected regarding expenses involved with funeral and burial. Consult an insurance professional who will be able to advise you as to what policy would suit you best and start comparing life insurance quotes to see which policy will best fit your budget.
Of course, your circumstances may differ; however, these five items are a good start for those newly married and beginning their lives together.
You can ask all the big time personal finance gurus out there – from Dave Ramsey to Suze Orman – and they’ll all tell you the same thing: lending money to family is a bad idea. It invites a plague of ethical dilemmas and amateur mistakes that statistically often stack against the lender. But what are you going to do? It’s nearly impossible to refuse to help loved ones when they need it – that’s the point of love isn’t it? With that said, lending money by taking out personal loans, without proper consideration for the law and insuring yourself against all possible outcomes, is a bad idea. In today’s tough economic times it’s hard to say no to family members and friends who might need help, so if you say yes, consider the following:
You might be mostly concerned about getting your money back in full from the borrower but you need to be mindful about making sure that the IRS doesn’t classify your loan as a gift if the amount exceeds $12,000. That’s the limit on non-taxable gift giving to one person and lenders must pay taxes on gifts in excess of that amount. The proper documentation of your loan agreement is as much about proving to the government you loaned the money as it is about ensuring proper repayment agreement.
In order to protect yourself from owing unnecessary taxes, you have to make sure you create a proper loan agreement. This means determining the interest rate, loan amount, payment period, interest, and collateral if applicable, and putting it to paper. Once both parties have signed, it can be considered valid proof of a loan in the eyes of the IRS. But you have to make sure you follow federal guidelines for interest on loans between related parties. These rates are determined based on the payback period, and can be found by visiting the IRS’s website for rates rulings.
The Paperwork Part II
Make sure you list the income, if any, earned from your loan on your Form 1040 Schedule B. That way you avoid accidentally committing tax evasion on unlisted income. They take loans between related parties as serious as they take loans between anyone else. It’s important to remember that when it comes to the IRS they simply don’t have a sense of humor about anything.
Lend money to family members at your own risk. But even if it’s shady Uncle Harry you lend your hard earned money to, it’ll be Uncle Sam who will be coming to collect his due if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Being good family isn’t always easy, but preventing the government from getting its hands in on the deal is if you know the right things to do.
Guest post by Jess