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Puzzling Financial Ramifications of Marriage

31 August 2010 2 Comments

Statistics show that married people tend to become wealthier over the length of a lifespan.  While this makes sense (shared expenses, probably more apt to engage in financial planning), there are some puzzling ramifications of marriage for younger folks that I often hear discussed.  So, yes, married people have more money later in life, but what about right after getting married?

One of our single friends recently made the comment that it seemed like all of his friends when they get married immediately get poorer as a result.

Now, obviously this person doesn’t think they are literally getting poorer, but this was more a statement about lifestyle and spending habits after getting married.  What changes when people get married with regards to finances?

Being married myself now for almost three years, I would say there are a few factors that definitely create some changes in financial habits upon getting married:

  1. Marriage brings accountability
  2. Two people often have different ideas of what should be bought and how money should be allocated (source of tension)
  3. Marriage can often bring a sense of added responsibility and lead to planning for the future

Each of the above three factors can cause visible changes in one’s lifestyle – in addition to the normal lifestyle changes that often occur from leaving the single scene.  For example, I use to go out to bars more when I was single.  I spent more money on cocktails (and Golden Tee games).  This changed more because I didn’t go out as much anymore versus a financial decision.  Now, I use to bet on football games for fun.  I pretty much stopped that because I felt like it was not a good allocation of my family’s resources.  I still watch football while being married.

Furthermore, I think that the financial planning and responsibility aspect of marriage is definitely a major factor here and should not be overlooked.  Getting married often leads to planning for the future.  Whether it is planning for children, planning for future vacations or planning for retirement, getting married often brings a sense of joint responsibility (which is a good thing).

Setting goals typically brings a game plan.  When it comes to financial goals, financial game plans often alter spending habits and lifestyle.

So, no, people don’t get poorer as a result of getting married.  Often times, getting married brings healthy lifestyle changes that impacts finances in a positive way.  This might be part of the reason why studies show married people are wealthier over time than non-married people.


  • Angie said:

    I agree with Lisa. It would be a very prudent move to start your marriage right by aiming to be debt free. Starting with a clean slate is always sensible and advantageous. Besides, you'd have more fun spending the money you got from your wedding by buying gifts for each other, rather than using them to pay off your debts.