Bridal section: Financial planning

Couples should consult with a banker or other financial expert while planning for a wedding, buying a home, buying a car, planning for a baby, or looking ahead to retirement.

The wedding is over, you’re home from the honeymoon and now it’s time to settle into a new life together.

With all the planning that goes into a wedding, it can be easy to miss opportunities to talk about how to budget for a life together. But area financial planners have some tips for newlyweds as well as longtime partners on how they can make smart money decisions.

Heather Ramirez, branch manager at Farmers & Merchants Bank in Woodstock, and Sara Berry, F&M Bank retail area manager, offered the following advice for newlyweds or others planning to combine their finances:

• Make a budget. Calculate monthly bills and other financial obligations. Know what your joint income is compared to your bills. You should also estimate additional bills when you are looking to make a large purchase, such as when buying a home. Estimate not just the mortgage payment but your utilities, taxes and homeowners’ insurance.

• Set a goal for how much each month/pay period you will put into savings or another interest-bearing account.

After getting married:

• If you have a credit card, try to pay it in full each month to avoid paying interest. If you are unable to do that, pay more than the minimum payment. This will help you avoid a lot of interest fees while paying it off.

• Use the pickup app from your grocery store, which can be a game-changer for shoppers on a budget. Make a list of what you will need from the grocery store and stick to it. Ordering online will eliminate impulse buying in the store.

• Don’t forget to pay yourself. Set up a savings account where a portion of your joint income is transferred when you get paid. Have a savings account that will be a safety net for unexpected expenses.

Two big financial mistakes people make both before and after getting married are maxing out their credit cards and purchasing new vehicles, which deteriorate in value immediately after purchase and also might strain or exceed a household budget.

What to do instead:

• Return to your budget when you are thinking of adding a new monthly bill or service to make sure it doesn’t add financial strain. Keep a close eye on your bank accounts and have open communication about your finances with your significant other.

• Build a relationship with your banker and the bank where you have your joint accounts. Bankers can offer advice and talk through financial mishaps.

F&M Bank offers several types of accounts that can be individual or joint accounts including free checking with rewards, free cash-back checking and money market high-interest-bearing accounts.

They offer checking accounts with either interest or cashback each month. The interest or cash back you earn each month can be put into an interest-bearing savings account with no minimum balance requirements to help you save (qualifications apply). This account is great for people who have shared finances and those who choose to keep their finances separate.

Those planning to get married should try to enjoy the process and take their financial plans one step at a time. Consult with your banker while planning for a wedding, buying a home, buying a car, planning for a baby, or looking ahead to retirement to find the right product to help you be successful in each phase of life.

Contact Josette Keelor at