Marriage, it seems, is becoming as rare as your average outhouse. Not a month goes by that I don’t see a news story bemoaning the fact that married couples account for fewer than half of US households, that people are waiting longer and longer to tie the knot, and that a high number of couples are undoing that knot almost as soon as they’ve tied it.
Then several media outlets this week reported on a study of 300 Americans that found working class women and men were delaying marriage due to job insecurity, low wages, and lack of resources. The verdict: marriage was fast becoming a commodity that only the rich could afford.
About that notion I say this: tommyrot.
Sure, the average wedding extravaganza might cost upwards of $25,000. Yes, the tax code does penalize some married couples. And, yes, a divorce can cost anywhere from a couple grand to a couple hundred grand.
But let’s get real. You don’t need to spend $25,000 just to get married. Your wedding can cost close to zero dollars if you skip the designer dress, cake, rental hall and other fancy particulars. The tax code actually rewards some lower income married couples. And if you stay happily married, you won’t ever have to worry about the cost of divorce.
Plus, no matter how poor you are when you tie the knot, your income and savings are more likely to increase over time if you are married than if you stay single. Indeed, research shows that the average married couple saves 10 times more money over their lifetimes than the average single couple. So two people aren’t just two times richer than one. They are ten times richer.
That’s not bad, eh?
When my grandparents met one another, neither had a nickel to their names.There was no engagement ring, and the wedding consisted of a trip to a justice of the peace. Then the two lived off the land, farmed, and raised two boys. By the time my grandmother died a few years ago, they’d been married more than 60 years and had amassed a considerable nest egg.
Their story shows that money doesn’t have to stand between two people and a happy marriage. Plus, there are plenty of financial incentives to tie the knot. Let’s count the ways. Here are seven ways getting hitched can make you rich.
7 Ways Getting Hitched Can Make You Rich 1 of 8
How does saying "I do" lead to wealth? Let's count the ways.
Utilities Are Half Price 2 of 8
When two people live under the same roof, they pay half the mortgage and half the utilities as two people who live separately.
Two People Are Better At Being Frugal Than One 3 of 8
It takes effort to grow your own vegetables, cook dinners from scratch, and fix your own leaky faucets. Two people living together are not only twice as likely to know how to cook, can, garden, change an oil filter and shingle a roof than one person living alone, they can support one another in getting such tasks done. End result: they can spend less.
Health Care Costs Plummet 4 of 8
When gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, the number of physician visits dropped. One driving factor may be the effect of marriage on physical and mental health. Past research has found that happily married people tend to be healthier than singles. (Unhappily married people don't fare quite so well, however). Married couples can also benefit shop and choose the best health insurance plans from their respective jobs.
Weekends Get Longer 5 of 8
Because you have an extra pair of hands to deal with fatiguing household tasks, you are better able to wake each Monday refreshed and ready to gun for that promotion.
Two People Are Stronger Than One 6 of 8
Knowing that you have your spouse's income as a safety net, you might be able to take important career risks to get ahead.
Two People Are Smarter Than One, Too 7 of 8
When life gets hard and you don't know which way to turn, you have a creative person to lean on, someone who just might have the advice you need to overcome your career rut.
The Sacrifices Can Be Shared 8 of 8
While one of you works two jobs, the other might be able to go back to school. Or, after the birth of a baby, one of you might work part time (or not at all) while the other puts in extra hours.
If you are single, I’m in no way implying that you should get hitched. There are plenty of benefits to staying single, too. For instance, I’m sure it’s quite nice not negotiate who gets what side of the bed as well as whose turn it is to wash the sheets. All I’m saying is this: the size of your wallet should not come between you and love.
Has your income gone up or down since marriage? Have you avoided marriage because you don’t think you’re rich enough to tie the knot? What are additional ways married couples can save? Join the conversation.
Read more of Alisa’s writing at ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com.