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Photo by Amanda Whitlock Newlyweds Janette (Torres) and Matt Glupczynski of Oglesby pay their bills online together. Matt teaches history and coaches baseball at La Salle-Peru High School, and Janette is a loan officer at La Salle State Bank. The two were excited to combine their finances after their July 2012 wedding.
When Janette (Torres) and Matt Glupczynski of Oglesby returned from their honeymoon in August 2012, they couldn’t wait to begin sharing everything — including their bank accounts. Janette works as a loan officer at La Salle State Bank, so she knew the first step in that process was getting her name change documented. That can be a lengthy process, but once you have your driver’s license updated, you can head to the bank to begin merging finances. In order to combine bank accounts, both parties must be present and their identification must be up-to-date. Mike Porter, branch manager at Eureka Savings Bank in Peru, said a certified marriage license from the county clerk’s office can bridge the gap if ID cards are not current, but updating the ID gets the ball rolling more smoothly. “If the ID is updated, there’s really no question,” he said. The next step for the Glupczynskis was combining their budgets: bills, spending money and savings. “There’s a lot to go over,” Janette said, adding that she still found the process exciting. Prior to their wedding, the couple had split their bills, and Janette would write Matt a check. Now, all the money will come from one place because they will share everything. Of course, not all the changes are easy. Two people using one account can get complicated. “The main thing is when you use the debit card,” Janette said, “you’ve got to write it in the register.” That simple act maintains communication about how much money is at their disposal at any given time. The couple also figured spending money into their budget, so they each get an “allowance” every month. “I’ll like to shop sometimes,” Janette explained, “and he might want to gamble on some game.” Knowing how much they can spend on those luxuries helps keep the peace. This way she isn’t going on a shopping spree with his money and he isn’t gambling away hers. “I need to know that my money is not only my money — it’s also his money,” Janette said. “I wouldn’t like it if he was gambling all my money.” Another priority in their budget is savings. The couple would like to buy a bigger home eventually, Janette said, so they began saving for a down payment right away. They also set money aside for “extras” like vacations. “Working at a bank, I see a lot,” Janette said, “so I’m just overly cautious about finances.” Fortunately, the Glupczynskis have both made a habit of saving. “If you don’t train yourself to do it, you’re just going to go through all your money,” Janette said. Porter said it’s best to save up for a down payment if possible, but acknowledged, “It’s not easy.” The 30-year loan works for many young couples, he said, because “it reduces the payments and alleviates some of the burden on a monthly basis.” Porter also recommended couples check their credit reports early on to make sure they are correct. “It makes it a lot harder to do a lot of things if something’s wrong with your credit,” he said. If one partner’s credit is not so great, work on building it up by using store credit cards or getting a small installment personal loan from the bank. The low credit score won’t affect your bank account, but it will make a difference when you try to get a loan together. Porter said you can be smart about your credit as a couple by paying down the credit card with the highest interest first or transferring the balance to the card with the lowest rate. Another financial concern the Glupczynskis had to address was whose medical insurance policy they would use — his or hers. They even considered keeping both, but decided that would have become too expensive. In the end, they decided his plan worked better for them, since it covered vision and both Janette and her daughter need glasses or contacts. They did opt for dental insurance from both employers and chose to cover each other to keep their dental bills low. Another thing to keep in mind for couples planning for a family: look closely at the hospital coverage and short-term disability insurance that would cover maternity leave. Bart Hartauer of Hartauer Insurance inLa Salleadvised newly-married couples to obtain life insurance policies on each partner, since most couples who buy a home rely on both incomes to pay their mortgage. “To cover all their bases, the other thing they need to look into is whether they are covered for a disability,” Hartauer said. “More homes are lost due to the fact that there is not a disability policy than are lost due to a death.” Homeowner’s insurance is required when purchasing a house, but not everyone maximizes that policy. Hartauer suggested couples include a replacement cost for the contents of their home and consider adding their wedding rings to the policy. Hartauer also advised ensuring there is an “adequate” limit of liability included on the homeowner’s policy. “What people don’t realize is your liability covers you not only at home, but it can cover you other places,” he said. So down the road, if your child accidentally hits someone with a golf club at a mini-golf course ... “It’s actually your homeowner’s policy that covers that.” A base homeowner’s policy typically includes $100,000 worth of protection in liability insurance, Hartauer said, but you can generally increase that amount to $300-$500,000 by adding less than $10 to your payment. If one partner already has a home, Janette said, the couple may want to add the new spouse to the deed. “Anything you owned prior to getting married is legally yours on your own,” she said. The couple just has to sign a quit claim deed to transfer ownership so that the home is jointly owned. Janette said that typically costs about $50 in attorney’s fees. There also is a fee to the county recorder. Another option would be to set up a will that leaves your property to your spouse. “It’s nice to record it in both their names,” Janette said, “but obviously if you have a will, your spouse will get your home.” If you have the option of refinancing the home, the spouse can be added to the deed at that time. There is a little less paperwork in refinancing than in buying a home, Janette said, but the process is similar. If a couple opts to refinance, a quit claim deed still would be required to add the spouse’s name. One final piece of advice from Janette: add your spouse as your beneficiary on your life insurance, 401K and IRAs. While you’re at it, take a look at your policies and see if there is anything else you want to change. It may seem like a lot to think about, but remember what it all means: you and your spouse are partners now, in every aspect of life — even finances. “It’s all exciting,” Janette said. “It can just get a little bit overwhelming at times.” Amy Flanery is media editor at the La Salle NewsTribune.
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