Money and Marriage: The Ultimate Checklist for Newlywed Finances - marriage finances

The Ultimate Checklist for Newlywed Finances

•  3 minute read

Most couples relax about to-do lists after their honeymoon. But the money to-dos after the “I do” are critical for the continued health of your marriage.

The cake had been devoured, our vows had been read, and we had spent a glorious week in Maui on our honeymoon. On the flight back from Hawaii, we were halfway across the Pacific Ocean and well on our way to our Southern California home when I turned to my wife and said, “Now that the wedding is done, we don’t have any more to-do lists!”

Three weeks passed after I gleefully exclaimed that my time with those lists had come to an end. Even though I never resurrected our wedding Google doc, that list was replaced by another one: newlywed finances.

When my better half and I decided to get married, we knew that we were committing to a life together. But because we had already been a couple for five years and had a solid money system in place, I doubted that our finances would change much after the wedding. According to the government, though, there’s a big difference between being committed to each other in your hearts and committed to each other on a legal document. Here are the exact financial steps we’ve taken since we said “I do” and how much each of them has cost:

  1. Getting health insurance
  2. Buying car insurance
  3. Changing our names
  4. Purchasing life insurance

Further Reading: “Newlywed Finances 101: Budget, Discuss, and . . . Budget!”

1. Health Insurance

Cost: $0

Savings: $150 per month

Being able to use a spouse’s health insurance coverage through an employer is a perk of marriage that many couples look forward to. We were no exception.

Prior to our marriage, my spouse was insured through an HMO plan purchased directly through the provider. Because my employer provides generous health benefits, we decided to combine our health insurance and have us both on my employer’s plan.

Human resources needed to see our marriage certificate, and I was required to fill out a short form about my spouse. After that, the health insurance payments began to be deducted from my paycheck, and we were officially on the same plan. Adding my spouse to my health insurance cost a total of zero dollars, and it saves us nearly $150 each month because the new plan is more affordable than my spouse’s previous one.

2. Car Insurance

Cost: $0

Savings: $0

Another perk of being married is sharing car insurance and having both spouses insured to drive.

Luckily, my insurance company already covered both of us on the same policy. The only requirement was that we live together. We’ve been cohabitating for over three years, and sharing car insurance costs for quite some time.

However, if you’re a newlywed and aren’t on the same car insurance plan as your partner, reach out to your insurance company and request a quote.

It’s often cheaper to be on the same plan, but that isn’t always the case. If your spouse drives a car that’s more expensive than yours or drives significantly more for work, it might make financial sense to keep your insurance separate.

Further Reading: “How to Get the Best Car Insurance Deal”

3. Name Changes

Cost: $280

Savings: $0

After many long conversations, my spouse and I both decided to change our last names. Unfortunately, the price of a new passport isn’t cheap: $110. Combined with a $30 fee for a new driver’s license, I quickly realized that we’d be paying a grand total of $280 for the privilege of new last names. We didn’t let it deter us, but it did put a dent in the cash we received as wedding gifts!

4. Life Insurance

Cost: $30 per month

Savings: $0

I’ve been on the fence about buying life insurance for the past few years. Even though it feels morbid to think about, I don’t want my spouse or family to have to worry about funeral expenses if something were to happen to me. It’s not the most romantic conversation to have, but I knew it needed to be done when discussing newlywed finances.

I poured two glasses of wine and we sat down to discuss the only thing more depressing than the thought of breaking up: dying. I may or may not have shed a few tears at the prospect of possibly losing my spouse. But after my eyes were dry, I realized that we had reached an agreement: We wanted to buy term life insurance.

Because we’re both in our mid-twenties, we figured that a 15-year term was more than enough and we could reevaluate once we had children. I was able to secure a 15-year term policy for $15 per month per person through the same company that handles my car insurance.

Further Reading: “Should I Get Life Insurance?”

A Final Thought on Newlywed Finances

It turns out that our newlywed finances to-do list rivaled the one from our wedding. Even though it isn’t always fun, having these conversations with my new spouse and realizing that we’re on the same page is a gift.