Financial milestones for marriage

Learn to save money as a married couple by setting goals with your spouse to meet financial milestones, like repaying student loans and saving for retirement.

A newly married couple walking into their reception.

Financial strategies for married couples

As you and your spouse bring your lives together, your finances will play a key role in how you plan your shared future. The time line of your marriage can be segmented into periods in which you aim to make financial progress together. Reaching certain milestones should be part of your short- and long-term savings goals.

Here are some achievements that you can start working toward- to help set you on a secure financial path.

The first 5 years of marriage milestones

Pay off your student loans.

The average federal student loan debt balance is $37,338 while the total average balance (including private loan debt) may be as high as $40,114.1 If you’re like countless others who carry debt from your education, plan to erase yours within five years through careful budgeting and responsible spending. Shop around to see if another loan with a lower interest rate can be used to pay off your student debt.

Have an emergency fund.

In case one (or both of you) is ever laid off or is faced with unforeseen medical expenses, or unexpected home expenses come up, experts suggest having, depending on your personal financial situation, at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses set aside.2

Purchase life insurance.

It’s easy to dismiss life insurance as something you won’t need until you’re older, but buying life insurance when you’re young may end up costing you less in the long run. In the unlikely event that one of you passes, the other will need to continue without the support system you’ve established together. So, don’t wait; the average annual premium of a life insurance policy increases dramatically the older you get.

Young couple looking over paperwork.

Milestones after 5 years of marriage

Buy a home.

Real estate is an asset and an investment goal that many married couples work toward. Speak to a real estate expert in your area if buying a home is an important milestone for you and your spouse, and be realistic about when and what you can buy.

Save for your child’s education.

If you plan to have children, you should start preparing for college as early as possible. Look into your state’s 529 college savings plan to see if it offers additional tax benefits, or investigate alternatives that charge low fees. It’s cheaper to start saving for college early than it is to take out a student loan later.

Many experts suggest having at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses set aside."

Marriage milestones at 10 years and beyond

Establish your retirement fund.

Start contributing to your retirement fund as early as possible. A common guideline is to put about 15% of your income into retirement. Online calculators can help you determine how much you’ll need to live comfortably after you stop working. Learn all you can about 401(k) and IRA options, or other workplace retirement accounts. If your employer matches your contributions or supports a retirement account in other ways, take advantage of that.

Prepare and sign a will.

Ideally, this should be done early in your marriage, but it becomes more important as time goes on. By the time you’re a decade into marriage, you should have a healthcare power of attorney granted to someone, and your will should be well organized and updated regularly.

Speak to a lawyer or do some online research to figure out the best way to have a will prepared. Less than half of Americans have a will in place3, so make it a priority to organize your assets and create one for the ease and benefit of your loved ones.


Want to learn more about strategies for the future?

A New York Life financial professional can help determine what’s right for you.

1Melanie Hanson, "Student Loan Debt Statistics', April 1, 2023.
2Kevin Mercadante, ”Emergency Fund Calculator,” Money Under 30, March 16, 2021.
3“2021 Wills and Estate Planning Study”, , Feb 14, 2021.

The material is provided for general informational purposes only. Neither New York Life Insurance Company nor its agents provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal, or accounting professional before making any decisions.