Should we marry for love or for money?
I was recently asked this during a magazine interview together with a series of questions designed to better understand this topic.
1. Why do married people end up having so much more wealth than single or divorced people?
Married people can end up having more money than single people because when you are married everything is split into 2.
I currently live alone; when I moved into my place it was unfurnished so I had to buy the furniture, appliances, pay deposit, rent and a bunch of other fees, including groceries.
As a single person I had to cover all this on my own, which cuts down my savings and investments in one fell swoop, slowing down the amount of money I save in a given month, which decreases my long term investments in the future.
A married couple that earns the same amount of money would have the same expenses but 2 salaries to cover their expenses so individually they would pay 50% of what a single person pays, thus increasing their income after expenses.
This additional income can be invested and can build into quite a sizeable nest egg.
My gut feel also tells me that single people probably go out more often then married people, who have each other for company, which further cuts into their expenses.
2. From a financial point of view, what advantages are there to getting and staying married?
Tax laws in South Africa, and most other countries, favor married people.
Even though married people pay individual tax on salaries, tax payers who are married in community of property are taxed at half their rental income, dividend income and capital gains tax no matter in whose name the property is.
Again this means that tax income is divided into 2 and married people only pay half of what single individuals would pay.
According to a Pyschology Today article married men get promoted faster than single men, whereas single women get promoted faster than married women, this could be because most married women have a second shift – looking after kids and other household duties.
A single man has to cook for himself, do his own laundry, go grocery shopping etc. whereas most time a married man has someone that cooks for him, does grocery shopping etc.
What it means is that a married man gets time to focus on his career instead of doing housework.
He can networking with other business leaders after hours, which is where career and business decisions are being made. Whilst his wife holds it down at home.
The fact is, marriage often leads to a promotion for a man, which brings more money and with that more wealth for the household.
3. Should you marry for love or for money? Why?
Research has found that most marriages break up because of money. You can predict the probability of divorce by how often a couple argues about money.
Dave Ramsey says that you haven’t begun to have a relationship until you’ve discussed money with your partner.
You may love the person but if your relationship with money isn’t sound, the marriage won’t last and will actually lead to financial stress.
My argument would be to marry for love and because you have similar values and attitude towards money.
I'd argue that marriage alone doesn’t lead to financial freedom or wealth. It’s the way that the couple thinks and communicates about money that makes a marriage financially profitable.
4. In general, how do men and women differ in their attitude towards money?
Because of the work I do looking at the link between emotions and financial behaviour, people expect me to say that women are more emotional about money than men are, but to be honest I have learned that men are just as emotional about money.
LouAnn Lofton, author of “Warren Buffet Invests Like a Girl: And Why You Should, Too” argues that women make better investment decisions than men do.
My guess would be that’s because women are more in touch with their emotions that emotional intelligence helps them make better investment decisions.
Traditionally men tend to focus more on investments such as stock and real estate, whereas women tend to spend more on household expenditure, and creative savings and investments for the children.
I think the attitude I have noticed is social: men tend to be socialized to believe that money is their domain and that they can be the breadwinners so most are more comfortable negotiating salaries and talking about money.
Women on the other hand are socialized to be good an nice, so they tend to have a hard time talking about money, negotiating more money and asking for their worth.
Linda Babcock & Sara Laschever, in their book “Women Don’t Ask” argue that the reason that women don’t earn as much men is because we don’t ask for raises and we don’t ask for high salaries, we accept what we are given.
This means that women start off with a lower base for savings, retirement and investments and they have less disposable income for themselves, which leads them to take on more loans.
5. What advice would you give a couple who are financially mismatched e.g. she spends money recklessly, while he is more conservative or vice versa?
The goal is to start feeling comfortable about planning your finances together and to also make sure that you spend money on the things that matter to both of you.
So I'd advise that they communicate about money touching on the following points:
i. Talk about your individual 5 year financial goals
ii. Discuss your financial values
iii. Be honest about your feelings about money
iv. Do your quarterly budget together and review it every week at a set time
What do you think?
Should we marry for love or money?
Does money really matter in marriage?
Let me know in the comments section below.