Financial Checklist for Newlyweds

Getting married is exciting. Still, a legal partnership requires you to merge your life with your spouse’s in more ways than one.

You’ll need to decide how you want to manage your money together, whether or not to open joint accounts and how you plan to file your taxes, among other things.

[Read: Married Couples: Is It Better to File Taxes Jointly or Separately?]

“Newlyweds, the time is now (or ideally before you take your nuptials) to reach a common financial ground with your loved one to achieve financial confidence as a team and live the life of your dreams together,” Alissa Krasner Maizes, founder of Amplify My Wealth, said in an email.

Read on to learn more about financial steps to take after you tie the knot.

6 Money Moves To Make After Marriage

Some joint financial decisions — like if you plan to share credit cards or open joint accounts — will vary couple to couple. Follow these six steps to combine finances after marriage.

1. Update Your Tax Filing Status

Once you’re legally married, your tax filing status will change, whether you plan to file jointly or separately. The IRS recommends you update your information with your employer as soon as possible. You and your spouse can discuss whether you prefer to file as married filing jointly or married filing separately.

Married filing jointly gives you the biggest tax incentive, as it increases your standard deduction to the joint total. Married filing separately keeps the filer at the single standard deduction amount. Oftentimes, it’s best to file jointly.

However, there are instances where one filer may have a business or other scenarios that would warrant separate filing (in case the partner doesn’t want to be hit with a tax bill as well),” Raya Reaves, founder and finance coach at City Girl Savings, said in an email.

2. Change Your Beneficiaries

After marriage, your spouse becomes your next of kin, which means that your assets might pass onto them if something were to happen. However, updating your beneficiary information on your qualifying policies will help eliminate any red tape and ensure your money passes to whom you wish.

“Add each other as beneficiaries on relevant accounts such as life insurance policies and retirement plans,” Michael Collins, founder and CEO of WinCap Financial, said in an email.

3. Plan For Emergencies

Post-wedding is also a good time to update your estate plans and other emergency preparation, as macabre as it seems.

[Read: Estate Planning Tips to Keep Your Money in the Family.]

“While you build your wealth together to live the life of your dreams, estate planning is essential for less-than-ideal events. Your estate plan can give you peace of mind that your loved ones and you are OK always and that your money goes where you want it to, even when you can no longer manage your finances,” Maizes said.

“Ultimately, your estate plan should address what happens to your money, how your children are cared for should one or both of you pass and who would help with finances or health decisions if you could no longer make those decisions,” she added.

According to Collins, you should make sure any legal documents like your will or power of attorney reflect your marital status as well as any changes to your wishes for your assets. It also might be a good time to reevaluate your health, auto and life insurance plans.

4. Consider Joint Accounts

A joint bank account can be a great way to manage household money as a couple, but it isn’t the right choice for everyone.

“When you’re married, you have the option of merging all of your finances into one joint bank account. You can also keep separate, personal accounts and have a joint account for joint bills. You can also choose to keep everything separate. Look at your new situation and decide what is best for both parties,” Reaves said.

Every couple will have a different situation that works for them, depending on how much access you want to your partner’s money, how you split payments and more.

“There is no one right way to pool funds, just make sure you and your partner are on the same page,” Reaves said.

5. Make a Plan for Debt

It’s often said that when you marry someone, you marry their debt as well. While entering into a marriage doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll now work together to pay down one partner’s previous debts, it is a discussion you should have with your new spouse.

“Discuss and decide on how to handle any debt that either of you may have. This can include creating a plan to pay off debt or deciding how to allocate shared expenses,” Collins said.

This will be particularly important when agreeing to a budget for other expenses, as each spouses’ financial obligations might be different and will need to be accounted for accordingly.

[Read: How to Make a Budget — and Stick to It.]

6. Have An Open Conversation About Money Management

“Open and honest conversations about your finances, debts, assets and goals are crucial at any stage of your marriage. While these discussions may seem daunting, they are vital to aligning your finances and achieving your shared goals, removing the barriers to achieving wealth and financial confidence,” Maizes said.

Be transparent about your current financial situation and debts, money goals and your timeline for them and expectations for how you want to manage income and shared expenses with your partner.

Setting clear expectations early in the marriage can stave off conflict down the line and give you a roadmap for making financial decisions together.

Tips For Managing Money With a Partner

Money is a tough subject to discuss, even with a spouse. Though it may be uncomfortable, it’s important to be on the same page as your partner when it comes to financial planning. These tips can help you along the way.

Bring in a neutral third-party. According to Maizes, working with a professional financial planner can be a helpful for setting up your budget, estate plan and more. “While you may want to keep some things separate (out of) habit or for other reasons, let your financial advisor shed light on the pros and cons of these decisions and (hire) an attorney if necessary,” she said. This could even include a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Plus, a third party can help calmly moderate any disagreements that spring up.

Keep some funds separate. Pooling funds into joint bank accounts can simplify bill payments and spending, but it can be a good idea to keep at least a small amount of money in a separate account just for yourself. This way, in case of a split or an emergency, your funds aren’t tied up with your partner.

Address concerns early. “Admittedly, you and your spouse will not always agree on how you each prefer to spend money,” Maizes said. Money decisions are deeply personal, and can differ between partners. But the earlier you come to common ground and learn to resolve these issues, the more prepared you will be to address future problems.

Discuss income differences and how to manage them. “Income differences should be a discussion point for newlyweds. Will everything be split 50/50, regardless of income? If someone is making more, will they take on more of the expenses? Having these conversations early on will ensure everyone has a clear understanding of the financial dynamic. Things can always change in the future, just keep the lines of communication open,” Reaves said.

Don’t be afraid to adjust your plan. Finances change, and plans will need to change with them. Even if you and your spouse agreed to manage your money one way or to work toward a particular goal, you shouldn’t be afraid to switch things up and discuss these changes with your spouse.

“By taking these steps, you, as a newlywed, can lay a strong foundation for your financial future and ensure you are on the same page with your partner regarding money matters,” Maizes said.

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Financial Checklist for Newlyweds originally appeared on

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