by George LaPorte

To most young couples, budgeting refers to the price of groomsmen gifts and whether you will get steak or chicken for the reception dinner. However, there are some other financial issues that you will want to address as soon as you tie the knot. Some of the items on the list below might not sound like things a young couple really needs to consider yet, but they are. You're doing more than just choosing your favorite cake and the best groomsmen gifts, you are now planning the rest of your life with a partner. A savings plan, health insurance, owning property, and a will are the key areas in which a couple must develop strategies in order to secure their present and future lives together. The following descriptions of these categories will give you a start to beginning this process:

Develop Easy-Access Savings: Build short-term savings that are easily accessible - you can easily start planning this right now, figuring it into your budget of every day meals and wedding expenses like groomsmen gifts. A good game plan is to have three to six months' worth of salary as an emergency fund. Money market funds, certificates of deposit and treasury bills are all good short-term savings avenues for a newly married couple.

Consolidate Medical Insurance: Look at consolidating your medical insurance. If you both have group plans, and you are each paying part of the premiums, you might be able to save money by dropping one plan and having the other cover you under the family premium-and hey, that will be money saved for groomsmen gifts and filet mignon entrees.

Evaluate Term vs. Permanent Insurance: Your choice between term and permanent life insurance depends on your resources and your stage of life. For example, if you are young and money is so tight you're making your guys share groomsmen gifts, term insurance, usually less expensive than permanent insurance at the start of a policy, may be the best choice for short-term need. For lifelong needs, permanent insurance may be the best option as it builds cash value over time and, if adequately funded, provides long-term insurance protection.

Establish A Will As Soon As You Are Married: If you and your spouse pass away without an established will, a court or state laws will dictate how your assets will be distributed. Consider Savings Percentages: Try to save 4 to 8 percent of your gross income while you are in your 20s and then double that savings percentage as you reach your 30s and 40s. In some instances, a dual-income couple might be able to live off one spouse's salary and save the other salary. You can even start saving immediately by choosing what you splurge on - how many groomsmen gifts do you need to give, really?

Transfer Spouse's Property: If you choose to place property in your fiance's name, avoid the federal gift tax by transferring ownership after the marriage. The law allows an unlimited transfer of assets between a married couple without gift taxes, provided the spouse is a U.S. citizen.

Once you've got these bases covered, by all means, go back to shopping for groomsmen gifts and giggling about your bright future together-because now you've made sure it's secure.

George LaPorte resides in Charlotte, North Carolina and works for an insurance company.

© 1998 Marrying Man Group