ThreeJars Daily: 5 Financial To-Dos That Can’t Wait

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5 Financial To-Dos That Can’t Wait

Sharing your life with your spouse means sharing your money, too. Check off these five to-dos to get on your way to financial bliss.

By Tara Rummell Berson

Map it out. You wouldn’t take a road trip without using a map or a GPS right? Well, it’s just as important to chart your financial course with your spouse. In addition to long-term goals like retirement, make a list of at least five things you each want to have happen financially within the next five years no matter how impossible they may sound, and then list three goals each that you want to reach in the next 90 days (getting on the same page about your finances, saving more, etc.), suggest Bill and Mary Staton, money managers and co-authors of Worry Free Family Finances. That way, you’ll both have clear ideas of what you’re working toward. If you’re feeling unsure about what your goals should be, consider seeing a certified financial planner.

Create a will. Obviously no one wants to think about doing this, but you need to ensure that your family will be provided for in the event that something happens to you and/or your spouse. Make it crystal clear who will take care of your children and what should be done with your financial assets—in writing. If you have fairly straightforward assets, check out legit sites like and for a quick and inexpensive way to draft a will. For more complicated wills, find a lawyer in your area who specializes in will and estate plans—not a general attorney—as there are varying county and state laws, advise the Statons.

Buy life insurance. Again, it’s a bit of a downer to think about what this implies, but it’s a must for your family’s future. When choosing a life insurance policy, do what you do when you search for a good doctor: Do research online and get recommendations from friends and relatives. Once you find a company you like, talk through your options. For most people, term-life insurance is a good choice, say the Statons. It provides coverage at a fixed rate of payments over a certain period of time (like 20 or 30 years).

Get on a budget. If you want to reach your goals you need to track where your money is coming and going. Take a look at your monthly bills and how much you spend on things you don’t necessarily need—like dinners out. Then see where you can cut back to save more or pay off debt. (For more on budgeting, see Create A Budget You Can Live With.). Last but not least, plan on having regular check-ins to stay on track.

Set up a debt pay-off plan. If you’re drowning in debt, it’s time to get serious about paying it off. Setting up a debt pay-down plan can help get you fiscally organized and propel you toward your money goals. Tackle your most expensive debt first. If you’re lucky enough to be paying single digit rates on any outstanding balances, you should consider doing a 50/50 pay off and retirement plan, especially is you get a contributory match at work, say the Statons. “That match is free money!”

Tara Rummell Berson is a freelance writer who lives at the Jersey Shore with her husband, two kids, and dog.


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