Devil's Advocate 

Don’t Get Married

Email  Print Print  
Devils Advocate Logo
This is a Devil's Advocate post.

Marriage is nice in principle but when it comes down to the dollars and cents, is it really truly worth it? According to some statistics in Rebecca Mead’s new book One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding (tip of the hat to Freakonomics blog), the average cost of a wedding is $27,852. Compare that to the median income in 2005 of $46,326 (Wikipedia) and you’ll wonder where people find the cash to pay for their weddings, let alone the financial pain brought on by the government.

The Marriage Tax
Let’s say you make $60,000 and the love of your life makes $60,000 too. If you remained unmarried, your couple’s total tax owed is $22,847.50 ($11,423.75 each) not counting any deductions. If you were to get married, you would owe $22,847.50 as well; being married doesn’t hurt right? What if you made $90,000 and the love of your life made $90,000? As single filers, you’d pay a combined $38621.50 in tax. As two happily single but committed persons, you’d pay $38,621.50 ($19,310.75 each); $39,392.50 if you were married, a difference of $771. As you make more and more money, the difference becomes more acute. So, either don’t get married, or don’t make a lot of money… a fair decision for someone to have to make right?

Here are the tax tables for a reference:

Tax Rate Married Filing Jointly Single
10% $0 to $15,650 $0 to $7,825
15% $15,650 to $63,700 $7,825 to $31,850
25% $63,700 to $128,500 $31,850 to $77,100
28% $128,500 to $195,850 $77,100 to $160,850
33% $195,850 to $349,700 $160,850 to $349,700
35% $349,700 to infinity $349,700 to infinity

(full marginal tax tables)

Weddings Are Expensive
I mentioned it before but the average wedding is somewhere in the $25-$28k range, which is about a down payment on a house in most areas. While everyone loves a party and loves the celebration, the sheer expense of it all almost makes you want to elope or hit up Vegas, doesn’t it? Not only are weddings expensive, they’re often stressful as you want your wedding day to be perfect. That means the food must be good, the drink must be good, the guests must be happy, the ceremony must go off without a hitch, the rings can’t get lost, the weather can’t turn sour, the reception hall can’t lose electricity, and so on and so forth. Considering how little of that you can actually control, it makes for quite a stressful day doesn’t it? Oh, and it’ll cost you a pretty penny or two (million).

You Lose Half Your Stuff
From now on everything you earn, you only get half (and that’s the half after the tax man takes his cut, which gets bigger and bigger with every dollar). If things don’t work out, he or she gets to keep half of it if you walk away for the always popular “irreconcilable differences” excuse. Yuck!

So the moral of today’s story is: don’t get married. Oh, and I’m preparing myself for the beat down that is likely going to occur at the hands of my lovely, brilliant, special, wonderful, and most-important-person-in-my-life fiancee once she reads this… but remember, Devil’s Advocate means that most people don’t agree (including myself, especially in this case!) and I was just trying to find a way to argue the other side. I’m still getting married. I hope. 🙂

{ 43 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

Related Posts

RSS Subscribe Like this article? Get all the latest articles sent to your email for free every day. Enter your email address and click "Subscribe." Your email will only be used for this daily subscription and you can unsubscribe anytime.

43 Responses to “Don’t Get Married”

  1. broknowrchlatr says:

    Maybe you need to hunt down a Median cost for a wedding rather than an average. I had the most expensive wedding and reception of anyone I know. It came out to be about $7k for everything. Others I know did it for half that much.

    Of course, you don’t havve to file jointly if you get married.

    One issue I do see is that if you manage you finances really well and your spouse to be does not, you could end up supporting their bad habits.

  2. Rick says:

    Of course, a way to fix this problem is to get rid of this so-called marriage penalty tax.

    That said, I’d imagine the point of the marriage tax is that rich people might tend to have only one wage-earner in the family. I wonder how true this actually is — what percentage of rich people have only one wage-earner rather than two, compared with the percentage of poor people that have only one wage-earner.

  3. There is a cheap way around it, get married down south! We got married on a cruise and it set us back around $10k which included the honeymoon!

    If people are worried about sharing their pre-marriage assets, then get a pre-nup!


  4. You have me sold. Then, I was sold after my first marriage ended. I’m out….and now I have the proof as to why!


  5. Posco says:

    LOL! You forgot to mention the corollary: Marriage often leads to children, and children are expensive.

  6. Miz Smarty Pantz says:

    This post should be titled “don’t have a wedding” which is NOT the same as don’t get married. Nowhere is it written that a marriage need be through an expensive wedding. Marriage through a civil ceremony is no more expensive than the cost of the marriage license.

    As for the tax penalty, that argument is pretty lame as well since the MEDIAN income is 46K – so how many couples earn 90k + each (as in your example). And of the couples that do, is $700 per year that big of a deal to them? I doubt it.

    Lastly, you fail to mention any of the benefits, financial or otherwise of being married. Most importantly is legal protection with regards to each half of the couple.

    • jim says:

      Hi Miz Smarty Pantz, this is a devil’s advocate article which means I’m trying to argue just the one side, the “other” side, which often doesn’t get the benefit of arguments because very few people believe in it. There are plenty of benefits and I can’t wait to take advantage of them next February. 🙂

  7. Aaron says:

    Yeah, yeah. Devil’s advocate and all. Good post, but you’ve confused “wedding” with “marriage” itself, which is exactly why people blow cash on weddings in the first place – as if the quality of the wedding, size of the rock, etc., were predictors of a successful marriage.

    weddings and marriages are two separate things. Just head on down to the courthouse and grab a license, and you’re good to go.

    Oh, and you’ve gotta discount the NPV of those future costs and benefits, man! I need a discount rate! I need a discount rate!

  8. Justin says:

    About the “average cost of a wedding” statistic…Those numbers come from bridal magazines. Now, of course much of their profit comes from the advertisers who sell things to people who need stuff for their wedding. It is no wonder that the average cost is so inflated.

  9. Brenna says:

    I agree with Miz Smarty Pantz. This really is a post about not having a wedding. With your question “Is marriage really worth it?” When you marry someone, you should know the reasons why you want to marry them, not because the possible paying more in marriage tax or that you could possibly end up in a messy divorce. I married my husband because we have a strong commitment, open communication, value the relationship and support one another as well as other attributes.
    When there is a lack of communication and especially with finances and other important life issues then sure, there could be possible break down in the future if this wasn’t addressed in the beginning. If one is coming into the marriage with assets, a pre-nup would be a good idea.

  10. Lost Opportunities says:

    Miz Smarty Pantz,

    My wife and I earn almost $90K/yr each such that we had to file separately to take advantage of that $700. $700 is still as precious to us as it was back when we were in school 10 years ago. $700 still buys a lot of things. $700 is still something I’d pick up from the street if I come upon them.

    So, perhaps you meant easy spenders, not high earners, who do not appreciate $700.

    Don’t get married for the benefits (financial or otherwise). Those benefits are subject to conditions beyond your control. Get married because you want to commit yourself to the other.

  11. plonkee says:

    There are indeed few rational reasons for getting married. After all you can just live together without spending money on a wedding, not suffering the marriage tax penalty, and without the risk of losing half your stuff.

    Over here in England there isn’t a tax penalty (marriage essentially does not affect your tax status or limits) but weddings and divorces are still expensive. Unless one your is about to pop their clogs, I wouldn’t advise getting married for financial reasons.

    Allegedly, some people make major life decisions that are detrimental to their finances because they have other benefits. Whatever 😉 .

  12. Peter says:

    A sociologist discusses how marriage results in less community involvement:

  13. You forgot something SUPER important Immigration status. I got married so DH could get his green card. Tax wise not getting married was way better.

    So while it is worse for us to get married financially tax wise, it is sort of nice to have him living with me in this country. And we didn’t rush into it or anything, we just got married because it would be easier for him to find a job with a green card. We were already living together 5 years and bought a house together for 3 years. It was just a piece of paper.

  14. Josephine says:

    If you get married, do you HAVE to let the IRS know?
    I mean, what stops you from filing as 2 singles?

  15. My wife’s mother gave us the Rebecca Mead book on our wedding day. A lot of good that does! We ended up coming in 4K or so under the average – pretty sweet!

  16. riggerjack says:

    i’ve seen alot of “just go to the courthouse” arguements… i don’t think that’s really going to fly for most women.
    i’ll tell you how we did it for under 500 dollars, and loved it. i proposed on top of mt pilchuck, looking down at clouds as far as the eye could see, with mountain sticking up here and there.
    i was best man at a budget traditional wedding, and would NOT repeat that experiment. my wife is religious, i’m not, so a temple wedding was out. by the time we got down the mountain, we’d agreed to either get married back on top, or out at sand point.

    i was adamant on a few points…
    the wedding site should be hard to get to.
    it should be a place of surpassing beauty.

    we decided to go with sand point, wa. it was hours by car away, with a 3 mile hike to get there, a service at sunset, and a 3 mile hike back, in the dark. no hotels within 40 miles, so camping only.

    there a some great advantages to this plan:
    you can invite everyone, w/o worrying about costs.
    only those who “really want to” will show, nobody will feel “obligated”.
    there are great wedding photos, it hard to get a bad pic when you’re on a huge boulder surrounded by ocean on 3 sides and woods on the other.
    great stories of your wedding that won’t blend in with everyone else. guys, don’t underestimate this one. she’ll be talking about this day for the rest of her life. at picknics and barbaques women talk about weddings and we talk about cars. get her a good story. and save the $ for a cool car…
    as to an official, my 2 best friends were there, dan as best man, and greg got ordained and was the official. it was much more personal than hiring someone we didn’t know. and it gave him the opportunity to tell people that “he married his best friend’s fiance, at his request!”.
    the rings are titanium, tough, everlasting, and the most comfortable ring i’ve ever tried.

    there can be a happy medium between mega$ wedding monstrousities and a day at the courthouse. it’s all in how you approach it.

  17. Garrett Holl says:

    “Consider that the much-publicized cost of the average wedding — $28,000 — comes from a study conducted by Conde Nast Bridal Group, publisher of three wedding magazines and a web site. The study’s respondents are those who had answered an online survey, responded to a magazine promotion, or attended a bridal show. Not exactly the population of brides at large.”


  18. Anonymous says:

    Marriage is a very bad deal for guys.
    Financially it is a very bad move. shows the typical marriage at its worst; many times things over time will get this bad.
    Believe in odds, divorce rates in states like California are around 75%; this was compiled on court records.
    All I can say with odds this bad you need an exit strategy, a prenuptial is absolute must these days, get a very good lawyer, do not cheep out on this. If she bocks at this, you know she intends to take you for all you are worth when the time comes. I guarantee this! this is a must read if you are thinking about getting married.
    Remember laws concerning marriage have changed drastically, to maintain a stable relationship it is actually better not to get marred.
    Putting it simply when a woman’s marries she gets the right to take half or usually more than half of everything you own and you have to pay her to leave. After she passes 10 years, sometimes less, you pay forever. This is all scalable to your income. There are caps like 50,000 dollars a month per child for child support. I saw a woman in court fighting for more money even though she was getting the 50k max allowed per child. And the reality is most women will exercise this option when it is presented to them.
    Once she gets what she wants (married) she WILL CHANGE, I guarantee this 100%. What motive does she have to work on the marriage once she is given everything, the answer is none! Women in America are bombarded with an endless array of TV shows telling them they how much better they are than the men in there lives and men are basically crap. The reality is you are fighting an impossible battle. Don’t be fooled into thinking your girl is special, she is not, she is only human and will act on the options life presents her. If she tells I would never take all of your money, tries to convince you she will not do any of the things virtually all women do, telling you don’t need a prenuptial, I 100% guarantee she will take you for everything she can. Don’t be a fool, don’t give her the option.
    Keep this in mind before you through your life away.

    • sMARTGUY says:

      Look, marriage is about love, divorce is about money. 2/3 of all divorces are filed by women, not men. In court, women play the victim, get at least 1/2 of the assets, usually win custody of the children, get a piece of your pension… and the list goes on. My wife walked without warning because her daddy and mommy convinced her to – no infidelity, no abuse, I was a good provider, etc. – I guess she left to find herself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I have kids… but like the gentleman above (whom I agree with) if you choose to get married and your male, she will change over time and you may learn one day divorce isn’t something that happens to other people, but you.

  19. tylerure says:

    Actually, if you are married filing separately, you will pay more taxes than married filing jointly.

  20. Girl Next Door says:

    Wow, someone anonymous up there has really been burnt. I really don’t think all women are out to capture and squeeze money out of men.

    I’m a girl, and I’m not conning the man I want to marry. The reason I want to get married is actually to celebrate the joining of our families and our lives. He is my entire world. We’ve lived together for two years and haven’t ever regretted it. Our life together have given us strength and hope for the future. THAT’s what I want to celebrate with my marriage, regardless of how little or much it costs.

    As for alimony, there is a good reason for its institution, if not its current execution– any sociologist will tell you the majority of people under the poverty line in America are single moms caring for children. Though I hope this is occurring less and less as education is pushed as a priority for all genders, in the past women would often set aside college to have children for a man who already had a good job. Imagine that ten years go by, she’s had a few kids, and one day out of the blue the guy decides to start abusing her, divorce her and marry his secretary, join a cult, etc. Now she is left with three kids, no money of her own, and no education. Alimony may be a nice thing to give a woman, at least for a short period of time, if she’s spent her adult life raising a man’s children and will need time to get an education or procure a decent job in the aftermath of a divorce. Even if you don’t side with the woman in this situation, at least you could think of the kids (assuming she has custody, which is sadly often the case when a man decides he wants a new life). I’m just making a case for this convention,a nd not saying all cases are alike.

    Yes, there are women taking advantage of this system, but there are men too. Look at the men in Britney Spears’ life, for example. Is it really always that women take half a of a guys’ stuff? Don’t women buy stuff for themselves? Sure they do. Maybe it’s the other way around sometimes.

    And what motive does a woman have to work on a marriage! Well, crap! First, she has probably spent a long time figuring out if she loves this person and has decided she does, which means she’ll want to be with them just for emotional happiness. Second, no mom wants to be a single mom. She’ll probably want a husband if she has kids. Third, marriage is a promise. Perhaps you, anonymous, don’t think women have honor but many do, and we aren’t going to go back on our word at a women. I’m sure that when a woman gets married her thoughts aren’t, “God, I hope this works out. I guess if it doesn’t I’ll get all of his money.” How do explain women who marry poor musicians (like I plan to)?

    Even the author of this article thinks that while this makes some cents money-wise, there’s apparently still enough justification to go on and get engaged anyway.

    Stop being so bitter, anonymous!

    • Fingon Celebrindal says:

      Anonymous is not saying all women are money grubbing you know whats. He is saying 75% of them are and he presents the statistics to backup his claim. To make it simple for you to understand, the chances of your surviving a 4 story fall are 25%. Do you really need to jump off to know if you are among the lucky ones who survive.

      Women set aside career/education to have children for the man(Big Fat Lie!!!). Having a child is a blessing not a sacrifice stop trying to make it look like one. If a women does not want to have children she has the means not too(By the way what century are you living in, ever heard of the little thing called ‘the pill’).

      “God, I hope this works out. I guess if it doesn’t I’ll get all of his money.”(Big fat truth!!!)
      It does not matter what you were thinking hunney that’s exactly what your divorce lawyer will tell you. By the way have encountered women who took less than the court was awarding them.

  21. Girl Next Door says:

    Ha ha, “word at a women”

    *Women= whim

  22. Rodney says:

    I will never get married again because women are the down fall of all man.

  23. Mark says:

    I’ve been married nearly 10 years; my wedding cost $25, which was the price my state charged for the license. The minister, my dad, charged no fee. The venue, my mom’s living room, was free.

    Incidentally, within a couple of years we got the Bush federal tax cut, and my state nearly quadrupled the marriage license fee up to $89 as just one of many ways to offset the decline in federal funding. Which made me start realizing there’s no such thing as a tax cut: you just pay a different Tax Man.

  24. Dudesky says:

    Girl Next door: How do explain women who marry poor musicians (like I plan to)?

    Sometimes, I wish I was a poor musician, trucker, or moneyless redneck. If I was, I would love to get married. But, since I am actually stable and have money, I can’t, out of fear that emotional or financial infidenlity by my spouse would cause me to become moneyless (and have to work hard to continue to be moneyless).

    The more money (or assets) you have, the more someone wants to take. Being wealthy, or even financially stable sometimes plain sucks.

  25. Anonymous says:

    i don’t get it, whats the purpose of marraige?

Please Leave a Reply
Bargaineering Comment Policy

Previous Article: «
Next Article: »
Advertising Disclosure: Bargaineering may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website.
About | Contact Me | Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights | Terms of Use | Press
Copyright © 2016 by All rights reserved.