Skip To Content

Newlyweds’ financial guide

When you said “I do,” you committed to sharing your financial future, and that can take some getting used to. (Hint: The more you communicate, the better.)


YOU’VE FINISHED UNPACKING FROM YOUR HONEYMOON and started working your way through all those thank-you notes. But have you started talking about the role money will play in your life together? As newlyweds, you may receive plenty of advice from those around you about all sorts of nonfinancial things. Here are six tips that could help you get closer to happily-ever-after — financially.


Illustration of a man pulling his shirt aside, revealing another shirt covered in dollar amounts1. Share your deepest secrets

You’ve exchanged vows. Now trade financial statements (if you haven’t already), from income and debts down to what you spend on that daily coffee fix. Begin by tallying up what you own — and owe. Your assets should include things like your savings and retirement accounts. Your liabilities may include student debt, a car or business loan, credit card balances and possibly even a mortgage.


“When you marry someone, you may also be taking on their debts.”

—Debra Greenberg, director, Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions, Bank of America

Why is this important? “When you marry someone, you may also be taking on their debts,” says Debra Greenberg, director, Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions, Bank of America. You may be able to help pay down your partner’s debt more quickly. But even if you can’t, it’s better to know about any surprises that could have an impact on your own finances down the line (a bad credit score could become a roadblock if you apply jointly for a mortgage).


After everything’s on the table, start talking about where you hope to go from here. If one of you already owns a house, will it be right for both of you? Are either (or both) of you planning on continuing your education? Do you have enough insurance to create a financial safety net should something happen to one of you? Whose health-care and other work benefits will better serve both of you?


Illustration of man and woman eating a noodle in the shape of a dollar sign2. Embrace a budget

Figure out how you’ll manage costs, from ramen noodles to retirement. Even if you both work, you may not want to divide the bills down the middle. “If you have the higher salary, you might take full responsibility for the housing costs, and your spouse could cover the other monthly expenses. You might also contribute a larger percentage of your income to your retirement fund,” Greenberg says. “Both of you, however, should try to contribute the maximum to your retirement accounts to make sure you receive any matching benefits.”

“If you have the higher salary, you might take full responsibility for the housing costs, and your spouse could cover the other monthly expenses.”

—Debra Greenberg, director, Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions, Bank of America


When it comes to managing your daily finances, talk about what makes you both comfortable. Some newlywed couples find joint bank accounts easiest to deal with. But if you’ve been managing your money for years on your own, you may prefer to keep individual accounts — and contribute to a joint account for larger purchases.


To help you keep track of your spending, income and net worth, you could look into any number of budget-tracking apps. Merrill clients can take advantage of a service called My Financial Picture. This online program makes it easy for you to look at and monitor the assets you have individually and together. It captures all of your bank, brokerage, mortgage and loan accounts — even the value of your real estate and other assets, like artwork or jewelry — in one place.



Illustration of a man surfing a rising line chart above a lake.3. Explore your compatibility — as investors

Your attitudes about money and investing may differ in key ways — and you may need some help sorting things out as you plan for your future. Maybe you’re willing to take some chances for the potential promise of a higher return, but your spouse prefers to stick with a slow and steady approach. That’s OK — your different financial styles may even complement one another. You just need to be up front about it and think about how the investing decisions you make today could affect your financial security later.


For those who aren’t quite sure about the level of risk they’re comfortable with or what they’re investing for, Merrill offers an Investment Personality Assessment. “It’s a list of targeted questions that can help couples understand their attitudes toward money, investing and their goals,” Greenberg says.


Illustration of a man and woman diving into a pool with a tax return form4. Be mindful of your taxes

Find out how filing jointly may affect your finances. Maybe you could get away with putting off your taxes until the last minute when you were single and filing as an individual. Now that you’re married, it’s a little more complicated. Make some time in the first year of your marriage to talk with a tax professional about what to expect. It might also be a good idea to review your investment choices and find out if there are any tax-efficient steps you might consider taking.


Illustration of a woman sitting in the palm of a large hand overlooking a document 5. Update your will and other legal documents

Your dog probably shouldn’t be your primary beneficiary anymore. As premature as it might seem to newlyweds, this is a smart thing to do — and it isn’t complicated. Life can surprise you sometimes, and you want to make sure that your spouse is the one designated as the beneficiary in your will — if that seems appropriate — along with other key legal or financial documents, including insurance policies and retirement accounts. When you neglect to update this information, your assets might not go to the person you’d like them to.


Illustration of a married man and woman clinking two drinking glasses beneath a dollar sign6. Review and recommit, yearly

Nothing’s set in stone. “All the plans you make in your first year of marriage can be quickly upended by new jobs, new expenses and new babies,” Greenberg says. “From time to time, it’s healthy to take another look at your financial commitment to each other. You’ll probably want to make a few changes along the way.”


Think about making this an annual exercise. “Whether you choose to do it at the same time each year — say, the first week in September — or at certain financial milestones, like when your 401(k) or IRA balance increases by a certain amount, it’s valuable to put your heads together and review the financial state of your union.”

Merrill, its affiliates and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.


You need to answer some questions first

Then we can provide you with relevant answers.

Get started