Marriage is about more than love, multi-tiered cakes and happy family pictures. It's also a financial arrangement between two people. For many people, marriage helps to increase wealth and promote economic stability. The economic factors underpinning marriage are varied, but generally add up to a positive for married couples. In fact, based on research reported at Bankrate.com, the average married person has twice the wealth of a single person.
In 2012, the average wedding cost $28,400, based on a survey conducted by TheKnot.com. The honeymoon cost extra, too. While wedding costs are greatly variable and can even be eliminated by couples that choose to elope or to have a small civil ceremony, they still serve as an impediment to many couples who wait to get married until they can afford the wedding.
Economies of Scale
Once you get married, you gain significant economies of scale. If you aren't already living together, you'll move in together, reducing your housing costs. Many married couples pool purchases and services. For instance, you may be able to save money by transitioning separate cell phone accounts into a family share or by eliminating one checking account and its monthly fee. All of the little savings can add up to significant increases in disposable income.
For many couples, getting married will either have no impact on your taxes or lower them. If your combined taxable income after deductions and adjustments is $72,500, your tax brackets are exactly twice what they would be for two single people. In the event that one of you has a higher income than the other, you'll be able to pay tax at the lower-paid spouse's lower rate for at least some of your income. In addition, many other limitations are doubled so, for instance, if you sell your house, you'll be able to exclude $500,000 of gain instead of $250,000.
Having a Fallback
When things go wrong, married couples can fall back on each other. People support their spouses during periods of unemployment or while one goes back to school. Having a spouse means that sometimes he can stay home to handle the washing machine repairman while you stay at work. When you age, you can take care of each other as well. These benefits help to reduce the risk in your life on the downside and increase your ability to earn money. Ultimately, married couples lead more stable lives, on average.
- Time: The Economics of Marriage: Will “Putting A Ring On It” Cut Poverty?
- Forbes: IRS Announces 2013 Tax Rates, Standard Deduction Amounts and More
- Bankrate: Married Couples Are Richer
- The Knot: This Just In! The Average Cost of a Wedding is $28,427
- Crucial Skills: Working with an Unemployed Spouse
- A Wee Blether: Married to a Medical School Student
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.