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 VOL. 8, ISSUE 10 - OCTOBER 2015

In This Issue

Money Matters: Financial Advice for Engaged and Newly Married Couples

Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer Card

Keep Your Heating and Air Conditioning System in Shape

Consumer Feedback:
Leading Edge Pest Management

Diamond Certified Companies

Savvy Tips of the Month

Learn About Your Orthodontic Options

Five Ways to Prepare Your House for Market

Meet the Team:
Greg Louie

Diamond Certified Quick Links






Read this newsletter and previous issues at

Money Matters: Financial Advice for Engaged and Newly Married Couples

  Newlyweds shouldn’t wait to get their finances in order. Photo: Allegra’s Studio (2015)

I decided to write about this topic after talking to my recently married son and his new wife about some aspects of getting their finances in order that they hadn’t thought about. After a wedding, it’s easy to get distracted writing thank-you notes instead of doing important paperwork and planning related to your new legal status as a married couple.

The first thing that may come to mind is taxes. According to Geoffrey Kulik, a partner at Sterck Kulik O’Neill Accounting Group, Inc., a Diamond Certified firm, newlyweds have to file their taxes for the entire year as either “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.” “Because of the way the laws are written, this change of status could result in a significantly higher, or lower, combined tax bill,” he explains. “Couples—especially those with high net worth—should do a tax projection before the end of the calendar year to avoid surprises and see if there are any actions they can take to affect the outcome.” Since tax laws haven’t changed significantly, you can do your own projection this year by using what Mr. Kulik calls “ballpark information” from 2014.

Other tasks include changing your name with Social Security and getting a new driver’s license and passport (if necessary). Review each person’s health insurance policy to see if you’re better off adding a spouse to one policy or the other. With each existing insurance policy you have (life, auto, renter’s), both of you should be named. Also, it may be time to review your retirement accounts and change beneficiaries.

It’s understandable if you want to wait a while to change beneficiaries for life insurance and retirement accounts so you can make sure the marriage is going to last. “A beneficiary designation is definitely one of the most important considerations for married couples,” says financial expert Daven Sharma, principal of Davis & Company, a Diamond Certified company. “Like a freshly potted plant, a marriage needs time to grow.”

More importantly, Mr. Sharma strongly believes that couples who are serious about a long-term relationship should start discussing money matters long before their wedding day. “One thing you can do is create a balance sheet that shows what each party has in terms of assets and liabilities,” he suggests. “Be honest in disclosing what you own and owe. If one person comes with a $150,000 student loan, the other person may be surprised that this was never disclosed before the wedding, and at that point, it becomes a community debt that they both have to pay off. Lack of disclosure may create a wedge in the marriage, which can be avoided by being honest and open right away.”

You should also consider creating a realistic budget for expenses and savings, differentiating between personal and community expenses, and keeping separate bank accounts. Mr. Sharma doesn’t recommend co-mingling everything at the beginning of a relationship. When it comes to resolving financial disputes, he says many couples benefit from having a mentor. “Agree on a mentor within the family—someone who has gone through certain life cycles and can guide you through disagreements over money.”

Mr. Sharma notes that money issues cause many divorces, and most of these problems could be avoided by having a solid financial plan in place. He believes that one of the best wedding gifts parents can give their children is a consultation with an expert. “Pay for a three-hour consultation with a financial professional you know and trust,” he says. “All the couple has to do is show up, sit down with the consultant, and discuss topics like financial and estate planning.”

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Chris BjorklundChris Bjorklund
The Savvy Consumer

Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer Card

Diamond Certified® Preferred Customer Card

Have you signed up to become a Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer? Membership is always free and comes with numerous benefits, including a special member hotline, members-only access to additional tools on, a double Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee and more. Join now to get a free copy of the 2015 Fall Diamond Certified Directory Update! Visit to get started.

Keep Your Heating and Air Conditioning System in Shape

Your HVAC system will run optimally
if your attic is properly sealed.
Photo: Bayhill Heat & Air (2015)

The best way to get the most out of your heating and air conditioning system is to make sure your home is properly sealed. Cindy Faulkner, president of Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical, a Diamond Certified company, says it’s important to caulk gaps and cracks around drafty door frames and windows. “Don’t forget about your attic and crawl space. Many people miss those areas, but you can really save energy in your home by sealing them.”

Another energy-saving move is to make sure the air conditioning unit outside of your house is clear of debris. “Don’t stack anything around the air conditioner because that’s where it removes heat from your home,” says Ms. Faulkner. “It vents out, and you’ll really feel that heat on a hot day. Also, make sure to clear the venting where cool or hot air comes into your house. Don’t cover up those areas, close doors or do anything that prevents circulation.”


Kudos from Diamond Certified Consumers

I want to offer my high praise for Leading Edge Pest Management, Inc. I called to schedule a home inspection, but the inspector did not arrive on time. When I called to inquire after a while, the receptionist was extremely apologetic. Ultimately, they rescheduled for the next day and conducted the inspection for free. The inspector was very thorough and generous with his time, answered all of my questions, and subsequently provided a written report of his findings.

—K.B., Alameda County

Diamond Certified ® Only companies rated Highest in Quality earn Diamond Certified

Companies Recently Earning Diamond Certified

Williams Sanitary Service, Inc.

Brentwood – (925) 634-4855

Innovation Painting Plus

San Mateo – (650) 921-0375

El Gato Painting & Restoration, Inc.

Sunnyvale – (650) 965-3692

Grand Flooring
San Jose – (408) 441-1021

Lorenzo’s Painters
San Jose – (408) 629-0815

Thrasher Termite & Pest Control, Inc.
Los Gatos – (408) 354-9944

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