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Post-Wedding To-Do’s: Tackling Employer-Provided Benefits

When you get married, so much of your lives join as one. Maybe your last name, where you live, and your finances but, this doesn’t just happen all at once. Each of these are things that will require a conversation and an action plan. Once you move in and start paying bills together, you might consider discussing other finances such as saving accounts and benefits.

When it comes to benefits, both of your employers should offer roughly the same options. You can discuss which ones to take advantage of from each other’s companies. You will be making decisions, it just makes those decisions easier when talking through them as a couple. Don’t let these discussions lead to stress and arguments. Use this article as a guide on how to take advantage of each other’s employer benefits.

Basic Benefits

Most companies should offer basic insurance benefits such as medical, dental, and vision. When you first joined the company, you probably told yourself to pick and choose which ones you would most likely need, and opted out of signing up for the others. For example, if your eyesight is perfect, you probably won’t be signing up for vision insurance. You would likely focus more on the medical insurance aspect, as health issues could pop up on any given day. You may want to consider dental insurance as well since this is a recurring visit. Once you’re married, you don’t have to sign up for all of these benefits, but it should be a time to reconsider what you should have moving forward. For example, you could go ahead and sign up for vision insurance through your company and allow your partner to take on the dental insurance through theirs.

In the wake of your wedding or another life event, there is a period, referred to as open enrollment, where you can sign up for or change your benefits. You might be wondering, how long does open enrollment last and what happens if you miss the deadline? Don’t stress, just do your research or talk to your HR department. Understanding this segment will make any potential benefit changes a lot easier. Marriage is a huge life change, and discussing your insurance and benefits could help your relationship grow stronger.

Vacation Related Benefits

First, figure out what each other’s company offers for vacation days and time off, whether that be unlimited paid time off, a strict amount of paid time off, or company-wide holidays. Then, you should discuss which ones you will be taking off together. For example, some companies will allow their employees to have the entire week of Christmas off, while others might only allow Christmas Eve and the day of Christmas. This discussion is necessary if you are each with a company that does something different. That way, you and your partner can figure out when to take off time together.

Having the same holidays and time off allows your relationship to grow without the stressors of work. You can schedule date nights and even vacations when you plan accordingly. Allow yourselves to coordinate the same days off and never stop dating each other. Your date nights and small vacations don’t have to be just dinner or a movie. For example, try something new and go on a little adventure or a scavenger hunt. Make up a new game night. There are so many new card games that are geared toward couples and relationships. Who knows, you might learn something new about each other.

Maternity and Paternity Leave

Maternity leave might sound familiar, but have you heard of paternity leave? Both fall under the category of family leave in the US and is a period of paid time off for a parent who recently had a child. Paternity leave is a similar policy for mothers, but for a father. Some companies may offer both leave options, so this is worth looking into in your company’s benefits package. Family leave usually begins a few days before childbirth and lasts for an extended period of time after the child is born. You may have heard this referred to as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA could also be used for an immediate family member, such as a grandparent if they are in need of care. This time off could be up to twelve weeks depending on your company’s benefits.

This could be very useful to a couple that recently had a baby. If both of your companies offer this time off, be strategic when it comes to deciding how to take advantage of it. This should be a conversation between you and your spouse. You both may want to be away from work at the same time to soak in all the newness that comes with having a baby. Maybe you want to discuss one partner taking off time first, and the other using their leave immediately after the first partner’s is over. This is completely up to your preferences, but could benefit you and your partner in handling this new change.

Emergency Funds

This is a topic most people don’t think about as it is usually something you make yourself. Whether it be through an app or your bank, you can create smaller saving accounts for emergencies. Some like to call this their rainy day fund. You can set up a feature within your direct deposit that’ll allow you to contribute a percentage of your paycheck to your savings automatically. If you’re using an app, you can set a goal for your emergency fund and the app will take a certain percentage out of everything you spend, or every paycheck you earn, depending on your preferences. These can be used for whatever you want, but it’s best to keep a good amount of money in a savings account for emergencies. Emergencies could include anything, such as a tire blowing out and needing to replace it. This isn’t something you can prepare for, but your emergency fund should be able to cover any issues that arise without affecting your balance in your checking or regular savings account.

Emergency funds are optional, but are worth the conversation with your partner. Whether you decide to merge your bank accounts or not, you can create these small savings accounts that build slowly over time. This will help you avoid dropping more money than you planned in a certain month over an unplanned issue.

Retirement Savings

Most companies offer some sort of retirement savings, whether that be a 401K or an individual retirement account (IRA). This isn’t something you are required to participate in, but it is highly encouraged. This is your account that should grow and will not be touched until you retire. Think of it as you are saving enough money so that come retirement, you can live your life without working. This being said, you won’t want to use your retirement savings for an emergency, which is why an emergency fund mentioned above is suggested.

When you choose to start putting a portion of your income into a retirement savings account, you have the option of what percentage you’d like to have taken out. Your company might offer to match your contributions up to a certain percentage, if that is the case, it is advised that you at least put that much in toward your retirement account to maximize your benefits. For example, one company may offer to match your contributions up to 3%. This means that if you were to only contribute 2% of your paycheck to your retirement account, they will also only be contributing that amount. If you chose to contribute the 3%, they will do the same and if you choose to contribute 5%, your company will still contribute that 3%.

Don’t let the stress of newlywed conversations take over your happiness. We hope this article helps you better understand what to discuss when it comes to the different types of company-provided benefits.