Get Married For The Insurance?

Little known quirk about the ACA: you can only sign up for the exchange in the calendar month after your health plan terminates. For instance, if you quit your job January 1st and your employer ends your insurance the same day, you won’t be eligible to sign up for an ACA plan until February 1st (and, no, you cannot backdate). Bonus: If you try to sign up for COBRA to cover the gap, that will invalidate your qualifying event. Which means you’re either stuck with your employer’s $900+/month unsubsidized insurance plan through COBRA or have a gap in insurance for up to 30 days.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for health exchange. Without it, it would be very difficult to get Fiancé health insurance at all due to his preexisting conditions. But this seems like a big policy oversight.

For now, our plan is to let him have a coverage gap and pay his recurring medical expenses in the gap out-of-pocket. If any emergency comes up, we can enroll him in COBRA which, unlike the ACA plan, can be backdated to his last day of work.

When I brought the issue up with my friend, she suggested to me, jokingly, “Well, you guys could just get married earlier so he can be on your work insurance!”

Which, no. But also maybe yes?

Fiancé and I have been together almost five years, living with each other around three. It’s not like getting married a few months earlier would make much of a difference to our relationship. It’d save us money, not just in health insurance premiums, but also in taxes. People get married all the time for administrative reasons: for health insurance, green cards, lower taxes, etc. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad an idea?

At the same time, there are some due diligence items I want us to go through as a couple before we get married. Getting a pre-nup in order, for one. Discussing how we’d set up our estate if one of dies, for another. Plus, all the little things from the thousand and two listicles about “What you should ask before you marry your partner?” You know, just in case we’ve missed anything. I’d rather not rush through those steps. Plus, my out-of-state family would probably be a bit dismayed if we got married and they weren’t present, even if there ends up being a wedding later.

After seeing his new health premiums, though, it sure is tempting…

Have you ever made a big relationship decision for financial reasons?

 

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Our Plan For Joint Finances

One of the things I’ve been thinking as Fiancé and I get slowly closer to our wedding date is how we’re going to handle finances as a couple. So far, we’ve kept everything separate. But once we get married, especially as we plan to have kids, it would be difficult for us to keep that sort of structure going.

And so after toying around with different models, we’ve settled on a his-hers-ours system for financial management.

Joint Money Map

The following diagram summarizes how we plan to structure our joint finances once we’re married.

Joint Finances - 2018

In this plan we max out all the retirement space available to us, including both our 401k’s and Roth IRA’s. We will each get $600/month as an “allowance” for our personal expenses. All our joint bills will be paid either via our joint checking or credit card. At the end of the month, any remainder we have will be dumped into our joint brokerage account.

Joint Versus Individual Expenses

This structure relies on differentiation between “joint” expenses and “individual” expenses.

Joint expenses are all necessary expenses that are important for us as a family unit. This includes our mortgage, insurance, taxes, car expenses, utilities, insurance, medical, phones, groceries, necessary family travel, and fitness plans. This also includes 10% of our post-tax income going toward charitable contributions like I’ve been doing solo (but instead we get to pick charities together as a family).

Individual expenses are all expenses that are for our individual benefit and fun that are not as high of priorities for us as a family unit. This includes eating out, hobbies, shopping, personal care, and solo vacation travel.

What if we get divorced?

If we get divorced, we’d each get to keep our own his/hers retirement and checking accounts. We would each then “repay” ourselves for the other assets we brought into the marriage and then split the remainder 50/50.

How would/did you structure finances with a domestic partner/spouse?