Spring, and more than pollen is in the air. Love, romantically-linked travel, weddings and togetherness are blossoming as post-pandemic confidence actualizes deferred plans. With any major life transition, such as marriage, birth of a child, buying a first home, merging one’s career plans with that of a spouse or partner, comprehensive life centered financial planning is integral to success and stress management.

A 2019 Real Weddings study indicated 73 percent of weddings occur between May and October. Outdoor venues with spring or fall foliage are popular. The average cost of a wedding is $33,900. Prepare early, mom and dad. The cost of our daughter’s wedding exceeded that of our first house! Honeymoons aren’t cheap, either. Roughly 70 percent of couples take a trip, at an average cost of $5,000. Starting a marriage deep in debt is not a formula for harmonious living.

Look for an uptick in gender-reveal parties soon. CDC data pegs July through October as the most popular birth months, with August the most prolific. This scribe was born in August in tune with cold weather snuggling combined with holiday romance. A late August birthday indicates December conception.

Newlyweds and young families are experiencing major financial outlays for the first time in their joint lives. Housing prices are rising as demand exceeds inventory. A Realtor friend reports that many homes are selling for list or above-list price. Per businessinsider.com, 3/18/21, rising lumber costs have increased the average cost of a new house by $24,000. While still low by historical standards, a sudden jump in the benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield has rippled through debt markets. The 30-year mortgage rate averaged 3.17 percent for the week ending March 25, with 30-year rates at the highest level since June 2020. Rising interest rates are a partial reason for a buying surge as purchasers seek to get ahead of higher debt service obligations and other costs.

Money habits developed early in life have long-term repercussions. Couples need to have heart-to-heart talks regarding budgets and investment strategies. If one person is a spender and the other a saver, conflicting money styles are a major friction point. Per a 2019 insider.com study, money problems are the fifth leading cause of divorce. Too much conflict and arguing is the third leading cause of divorce, and not being on the same page on a host of issues kills relationships.

The birth of a child may increase strains. A 6/30/2015 Washington Post article indicated, “A staggering 67 percent of couples reported a decline in relationship satisfaction after the arrival of the first baby.”

The average cost of raising a child is pegged at $233,610 to age 17, declares theknot.com. It will cost more in expensive cities and in-town neighborhoods, especially if private school is a factor, and even more in future years due to inflation. Beyond age 17, parents should consider education costs, career and vocational training.

The average age when a woman has her first child in America is approximately 28. Assume the baby arrives when she’s 28, and her partner is 31. By the time No. 1 is ready for college, she’s 46, he’s 49. Sometime around age 50, couples abruptly realize they are entering potentially high-cost years involving perhaps college, cars for each child, underwriting sports and other activities, potentially aiding aging parents or grandparents, a special needs child. Suddenly, “retirement,” whatever that is, seems ever closer. If this describes you, what’s your financial net worth? Are you on track or lagging behind relative to your envisioned future and financial independence goals?

Newlyweds have much to consider. Wills and powers of attorney for assets and healthcare are foundational to “what if?” planning. Life insurance, disability insurance, liability coverage including Umbrella Liability, and health insurance are basic to peace of mind. Some protection may come from employer plans, but for higher earners, supplemental coverage should be considered. For key breadwinners, employer group plans are capped as to benefit levels and higher earners may need supplemental coverage. The odds of disability greatly exceed the likelihood of death at younger ages.

As a general rule, keeping debt under control, eschewing costly consumer debt, is encouraged. Your goal should be a Freedom Fund, at least one year’s income in an insured money market fund to get your family through an interruption in income. Peace of mind is priceless!

August, the most popular birth month, isn’t far off. For those now pregnant, congratulations. If this is your first child, you have much to plan for. Those who are older will tell you they can’t believe how fast their baby boy or girl grew up. Welcome to the Circle of Life!

Lewis Walker, CFP®, is a financial life planning strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-3553;lewis@lewwalker.com.  Securities & advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of  SFA, otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group. He’s a Gallup Certified Clifton Strengths Coach and Certified Exit Planning Advisor.