As you get settled into your career path, you're likely making headway down your personal path as well. It’s an exciting and fun time, but major life changes such as marriage and childbirth also come with their own financial decisions.
Before getting married, it is important to set a budget for your wedding. Find out what family members, if any, will contribute toward the celebration cost or if you and your future spouse will pay for your own party.
Just as with other major purchases, it is important to set spending priorities and only put together the type of event you can afford. Paying off wedding bills for your first few years of marriages is no way to start a new life together.
Marriage as a financial partnership
Also before saying "I do," have a conversation with your spouse about money. How will it be handled? Who will pay bills? Will you combine all income or have some separate accounts? These are personal decisions, and no two couples are alike when it comes to handling family finances.
Marriage is also a good time to start getting serious about your savings. To prepare your family for emergencies or major events such as a job loss, try to stockpile enough savings to cover at least three months' worth of expenses.
Homes, cars and other big-ticket items
One aspect of money management, which applies even if you are not married, is how to plan for major purchases such as a home or car.
Many financing options exist for such things. Will you opt to take a loan out for the entire cost of a car, or can you save for a down payment? What type of mortgage product for a home is right for your situation? (Learn about these lending options and more in the loan products section.)
Will you have a separate savings account just for travel or other long-term goals or items? Talk with your bank about account options and how you can move money from one account to another. There are options beyond traditional savings accounts that have higher interest rates to make your money work for you.
Expanding the family
Should you decide to start a family, you'll find that baby expenses go far beyond just the basic diapers and formula.
Look into the costs of daycare and other childcare costs should both parents choose to continue working after the baby is born. If one parent wants to stay home, it is important to adjust retirement savings contributions to continue putting away enough money for both parents.
College savings are another element to consider. A 529 savings plan will help you start saving for tuition before your baby can even walk.
Plan for the worst
To protect yourself, and your growing family, it is important to make sure you have enough life insurance, auto coverage and home insurance in case of extreme emergencies. In addition to life insurance, long-term disability insurance can also protect you if you're left unable to work.
Last but not least, consult an attorney to draw up a will. This can protect you and your assets from getting caught up in legal limbo and can spell out exactly what you would like to occur in the event of your death.