Marriage can make you better with money
Marriage is so money.
Marriage spurs some people to make smarter financial decisions, according to a survey of more than 1,000 married people by financial services firm TD Ameritrade that will be released next week.
Indeed, more than one in three people (37%) say that they started paying more attention to finances once they got married. What’s more, 30% said they started saving more money once they got married, and 10% say they started spending less money.
Of course, some of this could be that generally when you get married your household income rises — which could make it easier, for example, to save more. Data from the IRS found that taxpayers who are single claim that they have an annual adjusted gross income of about $35,000 per year, compared to married people who tend to claim between roughly $65,000 and $118,000 a year.
But that’s just one part of this. Indeed, a lot of this has to do with how marriage changes our views on money. For many, it’s the first time they really focus on things like saving to start a family or saving to retire together — so it spurs them to behave more responsibly with money, notes JJ Kinahan, the chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.
Plus, you now have another person to answer to when it comes to how you deal with money. Indeed, three in 10 married people say that the single biggest financial benefit to getting married is having moral support and assistance keeping on track financially from another person.
Having that support and assistance is key for Bethesda, MD-based journalist Kimberly Palmer and her husband, who have been married 12 years. “He loves investing in the stock market, doing research on companies, and I am better at paying the bills, doing the day-to-day finances,” Palmer, a personal finance expert for NerdWallet, says of their financial differences. But they help each other to be better with investing and day-to-day bills, respectively, she says. Palmer’s husband for example, encourages her to put more into stocks. “I would prefer the money in a safe account, but he makes the case that we will miss out on potential growth. We talk through all of that.” And she makes sure bills are paid and keeps him on track with that. “It works,” she says.
Public relations professional Emily Yeap says marriage changed her financial habits as well. “There are three main things I do differently with money after being married,” Yeap, who has been married since 2009, says. She’s more cautious about splurging on wants like new shoes or bags, makes it a point to discuss big purchases she wants to make before she makes them, and pays more attention both to investing for retirement and saving for her child’s education. “I believe these behaviors changed first and foremost because I realize the decisions I make about money after marriage don’t just affect me, but my spouse and our child,” she says.
Of course, marriage doesn’t necessarily improve your financial situation. “Marriages survive and thrive when spouses are willing to adapt to the financial habits of the partners,” says Jean Marie Dillon, a certified financial planner at Freedom Financial Counseling. Many couples don’t do this and their marriages may suffer as a result. Indeed, money fights are the No. 1 predictor of divorce.
And this shouldn’t make all you singles out there despair. You can focus on saving more and spending less without having a romantic partner (here are some great tips for singles) and you can enlist friends and family to help you stay financially on track.
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