My 12th wedding anniversary is sometime in the next two weeks – I seriously can’t recall the exact date, and I’m desperately (and quietly) trying to figure it out. But here’s one thing I do know and will never forget: Getting married was the best decision I ever made. And not just because I love my wife.
“Marry for love, not money,” my mother told me. But it seems most of us can marry for both if we’re smart about it. Marriage has lots of financial benefits, and only a few of them are so obvious that I knew about them as a bachelor…
1. Getting together and splitting the bills
This one is easy to guess: Everything is cheaper as a couple.
I save half on everything from the water bill to the electric bill, but especially the food bill. When I lived on my own, I had to buy more-expensive individual portions, and I had to throw out food that spoiled before I could get to it.
Unlike me, my wife had roommates. But couples eat together much more often than roomies do. And over the years, my wife and I have developed the same taste for certain foods, which means we buy more in bulk than she did living with friends.
Then there’s the tech savings. We have a family plan for our cell phone, we share a laptop and desktop computer, and it’s easier to justify the high price of cable TV when I use many of the channels she doesn’t (ESPN, Spike) and vice versa (Lifetime, Food Channel).
2. Combining the furnishings
Between the two of us, we nearly filled our first apartment with furniture we owned separately. We still chose to buy some big items (couch, bed) so we could call them our own, but everything from the TV to the kitchen table came with the marriage merger.
And yes, we did squabble over my apparent lack of taste in home furnishings, but thankfully, like most guys, I had enough neutral stuff (TV stand, office desk, recliner) that met spousal standards and saved us money.
3. Keeping (credit) score
When we got married, I had better credit than my wife, but she had a higher income. I helped her wipe out her debt – with cash and nagging – and now she has a much higher credit score than she had before we met. And we both have more cash on hand, which really helped us when it came to…
4. Buying a house for a bargain
Of course, we got a much better mortgage rate with our shiny new credit scores, but we profited in other ways too…
First, we played good cop/bad cop with the seller. (I was good cop, since my wife had bought a house before.) When I looked at houses when I was single, I was always outnumbered – the seller often had an agent there, and it was two against one.
Second, when it came time to review the fine print in that intimidating contract, we had two sets of eyes perusing it. And sure enough, my wife spotted an error that could’ve cost us $400 (basically, a hidden fee that was covered elsewhere in that God-awful document).
5. Getting the benefits of marriage
My wife works for the state, and I work for myself. Guess whose benefits we use? But even for couples I know who both work for big corporations, one always has better benefits for their specific needs. And what if both work for the same place? Often, benefits are even cheaper.
6. Living a less-taxing existence
Filing one tax return instead of two is a big deal to me and the wife, not because it saves us a lot of money – in fact, it may cost us a couple hundred bucks a year – but because it saves us time and aggravation.
7. Driving each other happy
My car insurance went down when we got married – although the wife’s was unchanged. Why me and not her? Who knows: it could have been a multiple car discount, or perhaps they just think married guys are less likely than single ones to have accidents.
8. Keeping a balance on the checks
My wife is a sucker for boots – black boots that all look the same to me. Every time Apple releases a new laptop or iPhone, I start salivating. Together, we keep our whims from winning. One dirty look from the other is usually enough to snap us back to reality and realize we shouldn’t crave what we don’t need.
9. Enjoying peace of mind
In these uncertain times, it’s nice to know that if one of us gets laid off, we have at least one check coming in. And that did indeed happen to us briefly. It’s also nice to know if one of us gets sick, the other can work and take care of them. For me, you can’t put a price on that.
10. Forging the future
Drawing up a long-term financial plan is not our idea of a fun weekend, but when you make a commitment to each other, you force yourself to do it. And this is the one big reason that I use to counter the living-together argument…
“Hey, we live together and do almost all of this same stuff, so you’re overstating the marriage advantage.”
Yeah, maybe. And I do know lots of domestic partners (both straight and gay) who use some of these same methods. But at least for me, being married just makes me a little more serious about love and money.
Still, we’re not judgmental here at Money Talks News, so check out any of the following for more details…