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Cashing In On A Happy Marriage Examing Your Financial Options And Decisions

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Now that you are officially a married couple there’s a few checks and balances you’ll need to go over.

And, a great way of keeping you finances in check (after marriage), is understanding your options.

From decisions about where to invest and how to questions and concerns about different types of accounts, your finances should be something you can both comfortable count on.

Banking On A Happy Future:
Among the first financial decisions you’re going to be faced with is choosing a mutually acceptable financial institution. A home (away from home) for your money, this personal choice can be as important as selecting the “right” home, in the “right” neighborhood, the “right vehicle” or “right” school for your children.

Determining factors should include:
· Proximity of bank to your home
· # of locations
· Availability of ATMs and 24 hour service
· ATM Charges
· Access to ATMs at other, various locations and/or different branches.
· Monthly fees if any. Are fees waived under certain conditions (i.e. specific account balance)? Can you meet the balance, and can accounts be lined to achieve the minimum?
· Is there a fee associated with writing checks?
· Are you entitled to overdraft protection?
· What are your options regarding personal as well as business accounts? What are the benefits and advantages of each?

Remember, once you’ve accounted for all these elements; be sure to invest in a bank that has the proper “credentials”. Among these, membership in the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), a government agency that ensures your accounts up to $100,000 should the financial institution fold.

Understanding Your Choices

Choosing Between Banks or Credit Unions:
Credit unions offer a more “conventional” approach to traditional banking. In fact they are financial associations jointly established by those in the same industry or organization offering customary bank services at relatively lower rates, and many don’t charge for checking and have no minimum balance.

On the flip side, credit unions generally do not have their own ATM and require higher fees for the same services. Additionally, because banks often charge independent non-bank patrons for ATM usage, many credit union customers get hit with twice the price.
Officials however say that credit unions DO have certain advantages, especially for those who frequently withdraw large sums of money and want to avoid ATM charges. But, they suggest you do further research. Additional information may be obtained through the Federal Credit Union website or by calling them directly.

Checks and Balances:
Make sure to check out “hidden” service fees and the marginal account balance necessary to waive these charges. According to banking officials, these minimum account balance requirements can range anywhere between $500 to over $2,000 and the fees associated can quickly add up. The average monthly fee is calculated at between $3 and $10 dollars, many banks charging additional fees for writing checks and conducting ATM transaction, and costing YOU up to an additional $25 a month or about $300 a year.

The best way to avoid these charges? Linking up several accounts to ensure meeting the minimum bank balance requirement. Remember to ask about special exemptions offered for direct deposit and don’t forget to look into specialty accounts such as “Basic” or “No Frills” accounts. These accounts offer modified services at lower rates and are perfect for people who rarely write checks or access ATMs.

Joint Ventures:
Having a joint (or several joint) account(s) remains a sensible option for many married couples.

While not necessary, it does afford you the luxury of allocating family funds toward family expenses.

Joint accounts add up to convenience for those couples who are both comfortable with pooling their resources or making specific (weekly, monthly) contributions, but may not provide any added benefits for relationships in which one spouse is deeply in dept or has “poor” financial habits.

Experts suggest that those couples that establish a joint account also establish a way of recording each of your expenditures.

Saving For A Rainy Day:
Savings accounts are one of the best ways to build for the future, especially since funds acquire interest. And, savings accounts offer many other features to keep you interested.
Savings accounts have no associated service fees and are readily available and easy to get to. Additionally, they can easily be joined to other accounts to help you in achieving the banks minimum bank requirement. However, savings accounts only yield a 1.5% annual interest rate, not necessarily ideal for contributing to major savings…and some financial institutions may attach an additional surcharge if you savings drops below a certain level.

Going To Market:
Money market accounts are generally high yield savings accounts….and generally a good idea for those looking to put aside larger sums of money in a shorter amount of time. Remember, this investment maintains high interest liquid assets. However, you may be limited in the number of checks you can write (usually between 5 or 6 a month) and there could be a potentially higher per check fee. Money market accounts also usually call for a higher marginal balance to establish your account and avoid additional surcharges.

Other Investment Instruments:
CDs or Certificates of Deposit are another savings instrument you may want to take note of. Not as popular as they once where, these monetary investments offer a higher interest rate than regular money market or savings accounts. However, the economic climate of the past decade has caused their rate of return to plummet. Assets are not quite as liquid and require generally between a three-month to ten-year period before they can be touched. Investing in a CD usually refers to a one-time investment that cannot be added to, or withdrawn without paying a “penalty”.

Long Island Money & Careers Articles > Cashing In On A Happy Marriage Examing Your Financial Options And Decisions

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