Estimate Time5 min

5 financial tips for newlyweds

Key takeaways

  • Make a strong start together by setting goals, then coming up with a saving and investing plan to help you achieve those goals.
  • Getting organized can help keep you in sync on day-to-day money issues.
  • Maintaining sufficient insurance coverage and keeping an up-to-date will can provide important financial protections for your family in case of the unexpected.

In our most recent Couples & Money Study, Fidelity asked established couples their advice for newlyweds to set themselves up for financial success. Their top 2 suggestions? Avoid unmanageable amounts of debt and get an early start saving for retirement.*

Top advice from established couples to newlyweds

In addition to making smart money moves, it can be important to begin a new partnership with healthy lines of communication and a sense of joint ownership of your shared financial future.

"Don't let disagreements about spending or different attitudes about money derail your newlywed bliss," says Ann Dowd, CFP®, vice president at Fidelity. "Recognize that you are partners in financial planning, and take that partnership seriously."

Here are 5 ways newlyweds can help set their finances up for lifelong success.

1. Set goals

Spend some time thinking about your future and set some common financial goals, whether buying a home, taking the trip of a lifetime, or planning for retirement.

Next, make disciplined saving a habit. For retirement, we suggest aiming to save 15% of your income, including any employer matching contributions, in an account with tax advantages, like a 401(k) or traditional or Roth IRA. Consider setting up automatic contributions from your paycheck or automatic transfers from your bank account to your retirement savings.

Finally, think about how you can match your investments to your goals. For short-term goals—those less than 2 years away—you may want relatively stable investments, such as money market funds or even shorter-maturity CDs. For longer-term goals—like saving for retirement or college—you and your spouse might consider a mix of stocks, bonds, and short-term investments based on your risk tolerance, financial situation, and time horizon. 

Rest assured that coming up with a consistent asset allocation strategy doesn't have to be a heavy lift. If you're building a portfolio from scratch, start by brushing up your knowledge of investing basics. Or, if you're looking for a one-stop option, consider an all-in-one investing solution, whether with an all-in-one mutual fund, digitally managed account, or personalized managed account. (Learn more about managed accounts.)

Sign up for Fidelity Viewpoints weekly email for our latest insights.

2. Get organized

Much of what couples do together comes down to dollars and cents. To make the day-to-day of your finances run more smoothly, it can help to get organized. Here are some ways to do that.

You're starting a new life together. Time to get organized.

Once your financial house is in good order, try to keep it that way with regular check-ins. Consider having a regular money date to review your household's cash flow and make sure you're sticking to your budget, as well as staying on top of any other items on your financial to-do list. (For more on creating a budget, read Viewpoints on 50/15/5: an easy trick for saving and spending.)

3. Review your taxes

You may need to review your tax withholding and filing status once you're married. This can also be a chance to review your investment accounts to look for additional possible tax savings.

When your marital status changes, you must fill out a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your correct marital status and number of W-2 withholding allowances. These determine the amount withheld from your wages for federal and state income taxes.

As you're reviewing your tax situation, consider whether you're making full use of any tax-advantaged accounts available to you, like workplace savings plans, health savings accounts (HSAs), and IRAs. Earnings in tax-deferred accounts can compound faster than those in taxable accounts. And contributions to these types of accounts are made with pretax dollars, which can reduce your taxable income.

4. Protect what matters most

When you get married, it's important to review, update, and in some cases purchase different types of insurance. Here are some of the types to consider:

  • Health insurance. Check if you could save by obtaining coverage under the same plan, like if one spouse joins the other's employer-sponsored plan.
  • Life insurance. Your employer may provide you with a certain amount of life insurance coverage, but many people find they need to purchase additional coverage on their own. If you do, you'll need to decide between term insurance, which provides coverage for a specified period, and permanent insurance, which remains in effect for as long as you live. (Learn more about types of life insurance.)
  • Disability insurance. This usually covers a portion of your salary if you become disabled before retirement. Your employer may provide you with coverage, but make sure it's enough to meet your expenses. If not, consider purchasing additional disability insurance on your own.

Carrying sufficient insurance coverage can be vital to protecting your new family unit's financial security if something unexpected were to happen.

5. Create an estate plan

Even if you already have a will, you'll have to update it when you get married. Your will establishes how you'd like the assets in your estate to be distributed after your death, and dying without one can put a burden on surviving family members. You and your spouse should contact your attorney for more information, and create wills as soon as possible. Then, review them whenever there's a pivotal life event (e.g., birth, death, sale of business, sizable property purchases, etc.) to make sure they address your changing circumstances. (Read about the 3 steps to building an estate plan online or with an attorney.)

It's also crucial to review and potentially update the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts when you get married, because these designations take precedence over instructions left in a will. Always make sure to keep your beneficiary designations current.

Money discussions aren't always easy for newlyweds. But, as with any marriage issue, it's best to approach them with an open mind and as a team. The more thoughtfully you work together on money matters, the more financial harmony you'll maintain in your life together.

Start a conversation

We'll meet you where you are on your financial journey and help you get to where you want to be.

More to explore

* The 2021 Fidelity Investments Couples & Money Study analyzed retirement and financial expectations and preparedness among 1,713 couples (3,426 individuals). This survey was conducted by Ipsos using the KnowledgePanel® between March 25 and April 22, 2021 on behalf of Fidelity Investments. Respondents were at least 25 years old, married or in a long-term committed relationship, and have a minimum household income of $75,000 or at least $100,000 in investable assets.

The CFP® certification is offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. ("CFP Board"). To obtain the CFP® certification, candidates must pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification examination, pass the CFP® Board's fitness standards for candidates and registrants, agree to abide by the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, and have at least 3 years of qualifying work experience, among other requirements. The CFP Board owns the certification mark CFP®  in the U.S.

Investing involves risk, including risk of loss.

You could lose money by investing in a money market fund. An investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Before investing, always read a money market fund’s prospectus for policies specific to that fund.

In general, the bond market is volatile, and fixed income securities carry interest rate risk. (As interest rates rise, bond prices usually fall, and vice versa. This effect is usually more pronounced for longer-term securities.) Fixed income securities also carry inflation risk, liquidity risk, call risk, and credit and default risks for both issuers and counterparties. Unlike individual bonds, most bond funds do not have a maturity date, so holding them until maturity to avoid losses caused by price volatility is not possible. Any fixed income security sold or redeemed prior to maturity may be subject to loss.

Stock markets are volatile and can fluctuate significantly in response to company, industry, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments. Investing in stock involves risks, including the loss of principal.

Fidelity does not provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is general and educational in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Tax laws and regulations are complex and subject to change, which can materially impact investment results. Fidelity cannot guarantee that the information herein is accurate, complete, or timely. Fidelity makes no warranties with regard to such information or results obtained by its use, and disclaims any liability arising out of your use of, or any tax position taken in reliance on, such information. Consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific situation.

Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917