Personal Finance 

Five Money Reasons to Get Married

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Wedding BandMost people don’t marry because it makes financial sense. Most people get married because they love one another. They want to spend the rest of their lives together. They don’t necessarily analyze the financial benefits, of which there are only a handful.

In fact, getting married has only a handful of direct financial benefits (and some very significant legal ramifications) and is mostly an emotional decision. Most of us are aware of the marriage tax penalty, where the tax brackets for married filing jointly couples is less than twice that of single filers, so it’s surprising that, in these harder economic times, people are still getting married!

Fortunately, there are a few financial perks left to those who are married:

1. Combining Household Bills

The number one money perk to getting married involves consolidating two living spaces into one, hopefully, larger space. Instead of making two rent/mortgage payments, two power company bills, two utility bills, two insurance payments, and two of everything else… you make only one. It’s likely that the single, somewhat larger, payment will be smaller than making two of everything.

2. Consolidating Furniture

Along with slashing the number of bills in half, you can probably shed some of the furniture you’ve acquired these last few years. Downsizing can put a few extra dollars in your pocket as you shed the extra toaster, couch, and other pieces at garage sales and the like. It won’t be a profitable endeavor, since you’ll take a loss on each item, but you do get to reclaim some of its value.

3. Health and dental benefits

If at least one of you is employed and has medical benefits, the other will benefit from being able to join on the policy at a rate that is much lower than independent insurance. If you are both employed, you can probably go with the better/cheaper plan or be doubly insured, a technique that can save you lots of money if you use a lot of benefits. Should one of you lose your job, you won’t have to worry about insurance coverage (yet).

4. Money Partner

Regardless of how you handle your coupled finances, being married means you have a partner in life that is invested in you (just as you are to him or her). Good money habits are contagious, especially if you’re married to them! It will take some time for two different personalities to mesh into one system but over time you’ll reach a place where you’re probably better with you money.

5. Easier Taxes (Maybe)

There is one tax benefit to getting married – just a single tax return. The brackets may not be as favorable as two single filers but at least you only need to prepare one tax return, rather than two. Assuming your tax situation, after marriage, isn’t twice as complicated as it was while you were single, chances are you will save time and money (if you use an accountant) on the one return.

What are some other financial perks of getting married?

(Photo: ruddingtonphotos)

{ 41 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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41 Responses to “Five Money Reasons to Get Married”

  1. Marilyn says:

    combining household bills was a big one for us! Also I became much better with money and tacking things after I got married. My hubby was my money buddy. It was more fun to budget when you get to share your success with your best friend.

  2. cubiclegeoff says:

    You can combine household bills without getting married. Having the shared future vision I think is the main benefit.

  3. zapeta says:

    My fiancee and I already live together, so we’ve already combined bills and furniture. All we have to look forward to is the marriage tax penalty!

  4. Texas Wahoo says:

    I think a lot of these benefits assume a belief system in which single people cannot live together.

    • Jim says:

      It’s not my belief system but it seems prevalent in our society (at least in the more senior generations).

      • Texas Wahoo says:

        Sure – although I don’t know a lot of the more senior generations that are currently deciding to get married.

        This advice seems more aimed at the younger generations. Most of my friends (and I) moved in with our significant others before getting married. Personally, I think it’s somewhat reckless not to.

      • freeby50 says:

        THe only people I know who would frown on premarital cohabitation are the heavily religious octogenarian grandparents from the midwest. Everyone else I know has no problems with it and most people think its a good idea in general.

        • qixx says:

          Cohabitation that goes south is missing the legal protection of divorce. Diving stuff after a cohabitation “divorce” is much harder than married “divorce” as you don’t and usually can’t get a lawyer to fight for your share.

          Which is to say cohabitation, just like marriage, has some potential negatives to plan for before starting. Not doing it because of a possible “divorce” is just a dumb as not getting married because of a risk of divorce.

          • Pam says:

            Paying for a wedding and divorce is much more expensive than buying a new couch!

      • Shirley says:

        Here’s an opinion from a senior.
        Dating couples are on their best behavior and you don’t really know a person until you live with them for a while. Neither person actually sees the ‘whole picture’. I can no longer imagine making a commitment to spending the rest of your life with someone you know only through a dating relationship.
        Financially speaking, I feel that one person’s financial habits and beliefs are not truly known to another unless they live together for at least one year.

        I find that many seniors are changing their beliefs and attitudes about cohabitation (regardless of religious teachings) for these very reasons because a second marriage often commands much more experienced thought.

  5. freeby50 says:

    My wife and I saved a lot in taxes when we got married. So did my friend and his wife.

    Couples with largely different incomes can save money in taxes when married versus single.

    single person 1 : income $15k, tax $565
    single person 2 : income $100k, tax $19,091
    married couple : combined income $11k, tax $17,350
    savings = $2,306

    Another benefit for spouses with disparate incomes is possibly better combined social security income.

    A spouse gets to take either their own social security benefit or 50% of their spouses benefit.

    single person 1 : income $15k, SS monthly = $727
    single person 2 : income $100k, SS monthly = $2117
    married couple : joint income $11k, SS monthly = $2117 + ($727 or 50% of $2117)= $3175
    Gain = $331 / mo

  6. Amy Saves says:

    I agree that consolidating household expenses saves money. Just make sure it’s with the right person, b/c I heard divorce costs a lot of money!

    • skylog says:

      you said it amy! clearly, no one wants to go into a marriage with the thought that it will not work out, but the fact remains that 1 in 2 marriages will result in divorce. those are some horrible odds.

  7. Jon says:

    One reason not to get married: Bangin other women without all the hassle.

    • skylog says:

      ok, this has nothing to do with personal finance, nonetheless…it made my afternoon. thank you jon

  8. dave says:

    Getting married is a terrible idea. Over half of all marriages end in divorce, so you lose half your house, bank account etc. Michael jordan lost over $150 million dollars to his wife.

    You can 1. Combine Household Bills with a roommate instead of a wife. The wife may not always pay half the mortgage. Its easier to evict a roommate than the wife.

    Marriage leads to other disasters like kids. A kid costs over half a million dollars from the age of 0 until 20 years thanks to daily compounding @12%.

    • qixx says:

      Only 33% of first marriages end in divorce. So your odds are really only 1 in 3 unless you remarry. Then they jump to much greater than 50%.

      As for kids… i agree, kids are very expensive.

    • NewPerspective says:

      I’ve got 5 kids Dave, and we live nicely on a single income. They’re not as bad as you think. Besides, I’m planning on at least one of them turning out good and taking care of me in my old age. 😉

    • Strebkr says:

      Dave – “Marriage leads to other disasters like kids. A kid costs over half a million dollars from the age of 0 until 20 years thanks to daily compounding @12%.”

      I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I hardly call kids a disaster. And frugal people raise kids for WAY less then that. I’m not sure where that stat came from, but I have heard it before. I think its a nice round number that has been spun up over the years and people tend to sensationalize it.

    • Sonoma says:

      If marriage leads to disaster, I assume your parents were married. Too bad they didn’t have a crystal ball.

  9. Alex Hung says:

    It’s being practical about calculating the financial benefits that is bound to happen due to a wedding. Not many would have thought about the possible decrease in expenditure after the wedlock. Thanks for the mention.

  10. uclalien says:

    Each of these assumptions has its flaws.

    #s 1 & 2: It’s a common mistake to believe that if people are not married, they are forced to live alone. In my experience, the opposite is far more common.

    #3: Each company health plan I’ve been on is far more expensive than purchasing private insurance. It really depends on the quality of the plan your company offers.

    #4: Good money habits are contagious, but bad ones can be also.

    #5: Prior to marriage, my tax returns were pretty easy. I could fill them out by hand without much hassle. It didn’t get tough until I got married. Combining two people’s tax situation isn’t usually that straight forward.

  11. scdavid says:

    If financial factors are a significant portion of someone’s marriage decision, I would suspect that marriage is far more likely to be in the 50% that end in divorce.

  12. Ginny says:

    I am happy we got married yet I am penalized on the tax end as husband is a self-employed sales rep on commission only income so he has a complicated tax form so I file married but separate. Dumb ways I am penalized is: I could not deduct the interest on my student loan due to IRS rule and I pay a higher Income Tax rate than if we were to file together.

    • Complexity of his taxes is the reason why you MFS? Or I am misunderstanding? If he has complicated taxes and you don’t, adding your simple tax information shouldn’t incur much more expense during the preparation process. Unless it’s a very trivial difference in taxes going MFS vs. MFJ (less than $100), it may very well be worth the extra cost of tax prep to lower the tax bill.

      Just something to consider.

  13. bub says:

    It’s a proven fact that the leading cause of divorce is marriage.

  14. Leslie says:

    My husband is in the 33% tax bracket alone. I would be in the 25% bracket. Due to his income we don’t qualify for the credits mentioned in these posts. Would we be the sort of couple who would benefit from filing separately?

    • Texas Wahoo says:

      Very few people would benefit from filing separately. The tax code is written so that filing separately is not like filing as an invidual. Filing separately basically just cuts everything in half from the joint tables, and then takes away some other deductions you might otherwise get.

    • Strebkr says:

      Texas Wahoo is right. The IRS makes it very difficult to gain an edge by filing individually. 99% of the time it isn’t worth it. Sorry.

  15. Texas Wahoo says:

    Interestingly, I did my state Texas by hand this year and it appears that Virginia does away with the marriage penalty by having you calculate the taxable income for each person separately and then accounting for the difference. Therefore, if both parties were to make over the highest tax bracket, you get to subract an amount to make it as if each party got to use the same amount of the lower brackets as an individual. I wish the U.S. tax code allowed that.

  16. Travis says:

    If you can stay married, it’s a good way to build wealth. Two incomes + combining bills = $$. But if you get divorced, it will wreck you financially.

  17. Sherri says:

    Here’s something most people don’t think about when getting married (and this is the reason I will not get married again): There is something called the “Doctrine of Necessities” when means that by law you are required to provide your spouse with anything necessary for their well-being (food, clothing, medical expenses, etc). This is an old law that was put in place for non-working wifes back in the old days. What this means now is this… If your spouse racks up any debt (even if it is in their name only) while you are married, it is considered “marital debt” if it falls under the Doctrine of Necessities. Before my husband passed away he racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills (we had insurance but it didn’t pay for everything). When my husband couldn’t pay those bills and had no assets to be liquidized, guess who the collectors came after to pay them? You guessed it – ME. They sued me even after my husband had died. They could do this because BY LAW if your spouse cannot pay their medical bills YOU are obligated to pay them. If we hadn’t been married when he racked up those bills, the hospital would have written them off and no one would have had to pay them. Instead, I got sued. LESSON LEARNED.

  18. Anonymous says:

    my husband only receives ssi and has never had to file. now we are married and my income is only 17k a year. Don’t know how to file any ideas

  19. judi says:

    what if my spouse is on ss and I make 17k a year not sure how to file

  20. Jon C says:

    Depending on your company’s policy, you may not need to be married to get on your partner’s insurance. When her grad school insurance ended, my girlfriend only had to sign a form stating we were “domestic partners” to be eligible for full health and dental. Granted my company has very generous benefits package, but you should explore your company’s policy before assuming it only applies to spouses.

  21. ALS says:

    Other than benefits, you don’t have to get married to enjoy anything else on the list. To be honest, if you are both struggling to find jobs – or – have poor credit, getting married can hurt more than it can help.

  22. FedUpwithGov says:

    My husband and I have been married for over 25 years. There is no benefit to marriage. We get only financial punishment. Taxes are the worst. We both make little both self employed struggling, but combines we go up a braked where if we files separate we would not. We are thinking of getting a divorce for technical reasons, because the new health care law is another kick in the teeth for married people. Banks love married couples one goes in to dead, even without the knowledge of the other, but both are responsible. That is wrong to begin with. Don’t get married it’s a racket.

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