Are you and your partner deciding if you should marry? Tying the knot with your loved one is one of life’s greatest treasures. It’s a commitment you make to each other that defines the rest of your life.
Discussing your marriage with your partner has a few elements to the conversation. The emotional side of your plans for a family and your love for one another can sometimes eclipse other issues, such as how you intend to manage your finances.
Unfortunately, money does play a significant role in your decision to marry. If you don’t have the cash available to start your life together, then delaying marriage may be a good idea. Trying to raise a family when you’re both broke places added pressure on the relationship. Knowing that you can’t provide for your kid’s future also escalates the tension.
So, when is it a good idea to get married, and when should you consider putting things off to a later date? Let’s look at why delaying your marriage may make financial sense.
United States Marriage Statistics
Statistics show that the average age Americans get married is in an upward trend. In the 1920s, the average age for women to marry was at 21.2-years old, and 24.6-years for men. As of 2018, nearly a century later, the average age for women to marry is 27.8-years, with the average for men being 29.8-years. These statistics show that the gap between women and men is closing. Almost half of all Americans over the age of 18 are in marriage as of 2018.
There are several reasons why the average age of marriage in the US is increasing, and it’s got a lot to do with advancements in medical science allowing us to live longer, as well as the financial pressures involved with putting a ring on your partner’s finger.
Many Americans in a steady relationship are delaying marriage and choosing to live together as partners, rather than marry. Statistics show that 29-percent of American couples live with their partners in an unmarried relationship.
Weighing the Financial Pros and Cons of Marriage
Marriage has plenty of advantages and disadvantages, and weighing up the economic effects on your future together may help provide you with some perspective when making your decision to tie the knot.
Combining your incomes into one household allows you to advance your savings goals together while helping you to pay down debt at a faster rate than if you were both single. Budgeting becomes easier as you both now have a level of responsibility toward one another.
This sense of accountability created by additional responsibility reduces frivolous spending, allowing you to focus on investments in your future. Starting a family together costs money, and you’ll need to be prudent with your finances if you want your kids to go to college and graduate without any debt.
Marriage also has its advantages in keeping your expenses in check. Merging insurance policies could save you hundreds of dollars every year on the costs of health, auto, and household insurance costs.
Every new family deserves a home; it’s part of the American dream. When applying for a mortgage, the banks will have an easier time approving you because you have two income sources. Getting married also gives you a tax break, filing a joint return allows you to benefit from certain deductions and tax credits that are not available to singles or partners living together.
That’s the good financial news about getting married. However, there are a few financial drawbacks as well. If you and your partner don’t share common financial goals, and different spending habits, it may place strain on your finances and relationship. Statistics show that couples cite financial difficulties as the most common reason for filing for divorce.
Debt is also another concern for many couples that marry, and if your spouse is a spender, then the chances are that they are bringing more debt into the relationship. One partner may be prudent with budgeting and tracking expenses, while the other is whimsical with the relationship’s finances. These opposing financial views can end up placing tension on the marriage, resulting in separation or divorce.
Marriage is about starting a family. However, do both of you share the same goals of having kids? Maybe your spouse has a steady career and has no intention of leaving her job to raise kids. If one of you were to stop working, could you afford to keep your expenses going, and deal with the financial pressures of raining children?
Kids bring a new set of expenses into the relationship, and many Americans are currently struggling financially. Can you afford to raise a family and give your kids the opportunities they deserve? It’s for this reason that many married couples put off having children for the first few years of marriage. As a result, birth rates in the Western world are falling, while they continue to rise in poorer parts of the world, such as India and Africa.
Planning Your Marriage
Over the last 50-years, social structures experienced radical change. In the 70s, women stayed home and looked after the kids, while men went to work to pay the bills. Changes in gender equality and the empowerment of women over recent decades mean that more women have successful careers in their twenties and thirties, giving them greater independence in managing their finances.
It’s not uncommon to find that women are the primary earner in relationships nowadays, and there are plenty of stay-at-home dads that take care of the kinds, while mom goes off to work. Traditional roles are long gone, and today – it’s all about the dollar. Finances are now the leading factor in determining whether couples get married and if they should have children.
No-one wants to bring kids into the world, and offer them less opportunity than their parents had growing up. However, economic tensions continue to escalate in every country around the globe, and levels of poverty are rising dramatically in developed nations. Wealth inequality continues to increase, with 1-percent of the world’s population controlling nearly 60-percent of all assets.
Delaying marriage until you get your finances straightened out is now a common theme in most relationships. Paying down debt is the most prominent goal in young couples looking to get married. After that, most couples want to ensure that they have enough for a down payment on a family home before they decide to tie the knot.
While it may be a shock to many, thousands of newly-wed couples that do not have control of their finances, end up relying on their parents for financial support. Many couples also end up moving into a parent’s home to help them get ahead and recover their financial position. If the thought of moving in with your spouse’s folks so you can afford to pay the bills and pay down debt sends shivers down your spine – it should.
These types of situations lead to a loss of confidence in one of the partners and may start to sow seeds of resentment between you, that eventually lead to divorce.
When discussing marriage with your partner, it’s vital that you have a clear understanding of your current and future financial position. Going into the marriage blinded by love and hoping that you’ll figure it out later, is a recipe for disaster.
Here are a few questions you should discuss with each other before setting your wedding date.
- How much debt do you have outstanding? Both of you need to calculate your outstanding debt to the penny. This calculation includes student loans, auto, and personal loans, credit cards, and any other sources of cash outflows due at the end of every month.
- How will marriage change your debt position? Will you continue to pay down your debts?
- Will marriage yield you any financial benefits in terms of reductions on your expenses and your tax position?
- How much do you have in savings? Are you planning on keeping your savings and assets separate, or do you want to join your finances?
- What are your goals for saving and investing in the future? How do you intend to afford the costs associated with raising kids?
- Which one of you is the primary bread-winner in the family? If you have kids, who will stay home to look after them in their formative years? Do you both intend on working as the kids grow up, or will one of you be staying home to raise them?
- Do you want to pay off your debts before you get married? Are are you okay with bringing your debts into the arrangement?
- If there is a significant difference in your incomes, how will that affect your debt repayments, savings, and monthly budgeting?
Going into the marriage with your eyes wide open about your current financial position is far better than “winging it,” and waiting to take things as they come. A free and honest discussion with your partner about your current finances and future financial plans may provide insight into your relationship.
When couples begin to discuss finances, it strikes at the core of the relationship. If you are honest about your responses to the questions above, then you may find that your ideal of marriage may not make any financial sense.
Getting married for the sake of social constructs and satisfying the ideals of your parents can have a devastating effect on your relationship. If you are not in a financial position to get married, then its best to wait it out for a few years, and concentrate on sorting out your financial affairs before you tie the knot.
Student Debt – The Elephant in the Room
When Americans graduate high school, most of them go onto college to receive higher education. For decades, their family and the media have relentlessly pounded the idea that higher education is vital if you want to achieve financial success as an adult.
Unfortunately, the cost of a college degree has increased nearly four-fold over the last 25-years. As a result, students now rely on loans to finance their education, leaving them deep in debt after graduation.
Statistics show that there is more than $1.6-trillion in student loans currently outstanding. The research also shows that the average student loan debt upon graduating is $36,000. Delinquency rates on student loans are steadily increasing, with more than 12-percent of loans past 90-days due.
Many students that graduate college can’t find a job in their given field. Experts chalk this up to more students entering behavioral sciences, such as psychology, anthropology, and art – while less are entering the STEM fields, (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.)
As a result, many college graduates end up in the unemployment line, struggling to find jobs that even pay minimum wage. As a result, students entering the workforce find it challenging to reduce their student loan balances.
Before you decide to get married, it’s a wise idea to have the bulk of your student debt paid down to a manageable level. If you have outstanding student loans, then lenders are more likely to refuse your request for a mortgage application, and you may even find it challenging to find a rental apartment if your credit score is weak.
Wrapping Up – Key Takeaways
Getting married is one of the most significant life decisions a couple will ever make. Given the gravity of the situation, it’s surprising how many American couples enter this arrangement without taking the time to assess their financial position, and how it will affect their future together.
Before you make arrangements to walk down the aisle, sit down with your partner, and have an honest discussion about your finances. If you feel that you are currently struggling financially, then assess how this situation may impact your relationship if you get married.
Plan and strategize your finances, and take into account your debt and your income. Speak to each other about the role of kids in the marriage, and how that will affect your finances.
If you feel that you don’t have the resources to survive and thrive together into the future, then maybe it makes financial sense to delay your marriage for a few years until you are in a stronger position.