The Most Compelling Financial Reasons Never to Get Married
There are countless benefits to a solid and healthy marriage — the whole “through sickness and health” thing really is pretty great when you think about it. But those with financial stability or even those who can’t afford the slightest increase in monetary expenses might want to consider the sometimes negative correlations between marriage and money before getting hitched
Love is hardly logical, so most people don’t count the potential for financial fallout in their romantic decisions. You’re in for a tough ride if you say “I do” before reflecting on the big monetary changes that come with a holy union. In fact, when we take a look at these downsides, some would say it might be best not to get married at all. Here are the top financial reasons why it’s probably best never to get married.
1. The more expensive the ring, the shorter the marriage
Even in the beginning stages, it seems combining marriage and money is doomed. Those who receive expensive engagement rings also experience shorter marriages and higher divorce rates. On average, most Americans believe spending $2,000 on an engagement ring is sufficient. But researchers from Emory University found spouses who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on engagement rings were 1.3 times more likely to divorce than those who spent $500 to $2,000.
Next: The wedding
2. The wedding will seriously set you back
Thanks to the wedding industry’s unwavering efforts to encourage brides to spend more money on nuptials, the average wedding in the U.S. now costs $32,641 (which is also a down payment on a home or the equivalent to most people’s student debt). The same Emory study revealed “little evidence to support the validity of the wedding industry’s general message that connects expensive weddings with positive marital outcomes.” The overarching costs of the reception, honeymoon, attire, and venue is one reason why many are choosing to forgo marriage altogether.
Next: Forget paying off those student loans once you’re married.
3. Student loan payments stick around for longer
It’s becoming increasingly common for couples to wed with significant student loan debt. But paying off your student loans could prove to be easier if you remain single, especially for those on income-driven repayment plans. Higher earned income levels will increase your monthly repayment bills simply because of your spouse’s added income. Consolidating your loans as a couple becomes even harder once married as your bank options are limited, according to Student Loan Hero.
It’s seems many Americans would prefer to avoid this hardship altogether. According to The Atlantic, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling reports 37% of people wouldn’t marry someone until their debt was paid off.
Next: Say goodbye to your excellent credit.
4. You’ll have to marry their credit score
Marriage is a legal partnership that includes pooling all financial resources with your partner. If your partner has poor credit, now you do, too, regardless of your otherwise stellar history. Even though credit remains reported on an individual basis, you could still encounter difficulties when opening any type of joint account, buying a home, or borrowing for a car.
Poor credit on either side results in worse mortgage rates, refinancing options, and loans. So it makes sense that 23% of Americans reported keeping their significant credit card debt a secret from their partner, according to TD Bank’s Love and Money survey.
Next: See why money management is easier single.
5. It’s hard to align on spending and saving habits
Sure, being married means couples can “do life” with two incomes, which can make sharing the financial burden a lot easier. But if one partner’s views on saving and spending strategies differ from the other, the negatives will start to outweigh the positives.
Money management is key, and unfortunately not all couples have it. It might not be worth the risk to marry a partner and find out later your vision doesn’t add up. Arguments about money are the leading predictor of divorce. And attempting to merge your views on spending, dining out, traveling, and retirement could be more difficult for those in a binding marriage.
Next: Uncle Sam’s marriage penalty is no joke.
6. You’ll face a lesser tax burden single
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons to forgo marriage is to avoid the marriage tax penalty. Tax brackets are set up in a way that outwardly punishes dual-income filers with unforgiving income limits, meaning those who are married often have a higher tax bill than those who are single. Uncle Sam slaps bigger penalties on combined incomes, often reaching as high as 12% of a couple’s total income.
Next: Marriage taxes are especially taxing for the rich.
7. Wealthier people are hit hardest in marriage
Because of the way tax brackets work, the marriage penalty is especially steep for couples with high incomes. When both members in a marriage report high earnings, their tax return is skyrocketed into a higher bracket, meaning they pay much more in marriage penalties than both single filers and average-earning married couples.
The top bracket is particularly painful at 39.6%. According to Nolo, filers who each make $400,000 in 2016 will pay over $30,000 more in taxes than if they were single.
Next: Marriage and money and stress, oh my!
8. Marriage brings additional money stress
Money often ignites fighting in a relationship. And these fights are a lot more intense than the internal arguments you have with yourself when single. One study even found couples tend to marry their financial opposite. The mere fact that you must consider another person’s financial picture — one that might be entirely different than yours — is stressful. The money bickering and constant monitoring of each other’s habits are bound to get tiresome and shove an unnecessary wedge between you and your spouse. And as we’ll see next, the result is far from peachy.
Next: The big divorce
9. Divorce is expensive
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the debilitating effect divorce can have on your finances. Simply put: Divorce is expensive. It’s also a cost no one ever expects they’ll have to fund. The average cost of an amicable divorce is between $25,000 and $50,000, according to Kiplinger. And that’s not even counting the emotional damage incurred from separation. Is it better to stay single to avoid astronomical legal fees? Our wallets say, “Absolutely!”
Next: The “gray divorce” phenomenon
10. Divorcing later in life is even worse
Recent data from Pew shows divorce for adults age 50 and older is becoming more common, despite the decrease in frequency for younger adults. The divorce rate among older adults has actually doubled since the 1990s, earning the nickname: the gray divorce.
Unfortunately, it becomes more expensive to cut ties the longer you are together. This is because dividing acquired assets, such as homes, retirement accounts, and even child custody, takes longer to sort out. An amicable divorce is not always guaranteed, and shoveling money at a mediator is sure to put a strain on your wallet — and your psyche.
Next: Marriage can be a burden on your health care costs.
11. Health care becomes iffy
There are many factors to consider on the health front in marriage. Deductibles can change. Benefits will vary on differing plans. And depending on your health situation, what worked for you in the past might not work for your partner moving forward. If you were previously eligible for subsidies through the Affordable Care Act, there’s a good chance adding another income through marriage will disqualify you for those discounts. Even more, older couples must account for both incomes when determining their eligibility for Medicaid. And considering the cost of nursing homes these days, it could completely deplete your savings.
Next: Why it’s better to stay single when it comes to car insurance
12. Higher car insurance premiums
Drivers with a clean record should also think twice about tying the knot. Car insurance is a hefty yearly expense — one that could get complicated marrying a partner with a less than stellar record. Sure, there’s the occasional multi-car discount or cheaper insurance rates. But if you marry someone with an affinity for fancy automobiles, you can expect a higher premium overall. Your spouse’s make, model, daily mileage, and history of traffic tickets all influence whether you pay a higher or lower premium.
Next: The downsides of “what’s mine is yours”
13. There’s an increase in liability, good or bad
There are a few positives to the whole “what’s mine is yours” philosophy in marriage. But those benefits disappear once you realize you could be financially liable if your partner goes bankrupt, forgets to pay the bills on your joint account, or dies before their debts are paid. Single people often say the biggest benefit of singledom is they are responsible for no one but themselves. When it comes to money and marriage, having full control of your finances can eliminate the potential stressors many married couples often face.
Next: The consequences of splitting up
14. Property rights can get sticky
Unmarried couples who live together or buy property together — even something as insignificant as a couch or piece of artwork — are subject to zero official rules about what happens to that property if you were to part ways. But once married, your spouse has a legal right to all marital property in the same way you do. It’s for this reason divorces are often messy and expensive.
Next: Marriage and your career
15. It’s easier to focus on your career when single
If you’re still plugging away at your career hoping to surpass a few key milestones, you might consider waiting to marry. Most anyone will confess that marriage takes work. Once children come into the picture, there’s even less time to focus on yourself and your goals. Staying single gives you a bit more leeway to focus on your professional life if you so choose.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.
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