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Don’t Get Married

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 [3] (tip of the hat to Freakonomics blog [4]), the average cost of a wedding is $27,852. Compare that to the median income in 2005 of $46,326 (Wikipedia [5]) 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 [6])

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. 🙂