7 Financial Reasons NOT to Get Married


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The cost associated with getting married goes far beyond the thousand-dollar wedding gown and luxury honeymoon cruise. There’s also that thing that happens after you walk down the aisle to consider: Life.

And happily ever after fetches a higher price than ever these days, especially as the expenses of married couples seem to ebb and flow with every session of Congress.

Gail Rosen, a Certified Public Accountant, put off her own nuptials back in the ’80s for tax reasons alone.

“We waited till January 1984 because it saved us $1,200,” she says. “The 15% bracket (for couples filing jointly) wasn’t expanded back then. I figured: Let the IRS pay for our honeymoon!”

Call us pessimists, but we asked Rosen and several other experts for their advice on why you might be better off putting off the Big Day for now.

One of You Stands to Inherit a Fortune

Just keep in mind that in many states, married couples split everything they make after they tie the knot 50/50.The best way to protect yourself? Hammer out a prenuptial agreement before you head down the aisle, says David Pisarra, a family law attorney.”People in that gooey love state don’t think about what marriage really means,” he says. “By taking that two or three week period to hash out a prenuptial agreement, it can really help the relationship in the long run.”

You Still Can’t Agree on How to Handle Your Finances

Tina B. Tessina, a psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex, and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, cautions against marriage for couples who can’t make simple financial decisions together. “You can’t build a successful marriage if you’re fighting about one of the central pillars of marriage,” she says. That means if you’re throwing blows over things like a prenup, the deeds to your homes or how to protect your children in your will, you’re probably not ready for a lifetime committed to one another.

(Hint: You won’t make good roommates either.)

The ‘Marriage Penalty’ Still Exists

Rosen warns couples against the “marriage penalty” that applies to couples filing jointly. Even though Congress expanded the joint filers’ tax bracket to 30%, that still leaves out couples who collectively fall outside that range. Per Rosen:

“For example, say that each of two taxpayers has taxable income of $74,200 in 2011 (and assume double that, or taxable income of $148,400 on a join return): If married, their joint return tax would be $29,621.50. If single, each would owe $14,675, a total of $29,350.00.

The marriage penalty is $271.50.”

And You Can’t Claim as Much in Losses on Taxes

For marrieds, you can only deduct up to $3,000 for capital losses on your taxes. By filing separately, you can each claim that much, for a total of $6,000, Rosen points out.

The Tax Deduction Rate Is Lower for Married Renters

Per Rosen: “Married couples who rent out real estate can deduct up to $25,000 of loss from the activity (if their modified AGI is $100,000 or less). Each single person would get up to the same $25,000 (up to $50,000 total) and each could earn $100,000 ($200,000 total).” Also, remember that your Social Security benefits get taxed more after you’re married since your income level rises.

Divorce Doesn’t Come Cheap These Days

Depending on your state, you could owe as much as 50% of your assets in spousal support if you get divorced. Just ask Kobe Bryant how that feels. Divorce can also bang up your credit, especially if either partner finds themselves in a financial rut after losing income from an extra breadwinner.

Think about it: If one of you decides to keep the home (the new divorce demand), you’ll have to find a way to handle mortgage payments solo.

You Won’t Get as Much College Aid

“If you get married, your new spouse’s income and assets are included when they determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive,” says Joe Orsolini of College Aid Planners. ”I have a client that made this mistake (a six-figure one) this year and another that is pushing her wedding dates back based on college financial aid.”

More From LearnVest

The arguments for and against moving in with your significant other: which side wins?
Everything you need to know about taxes … if you’re married.
Is it more expensive to be single or married? Find out.

  • Lyhyd11

    I met the man of my dreasms on the place mentioned in my pic ==–TallLoving.c’0m—it gives you a chance to make your life better and open opportunities for you to meet the attractive young man and treat you AS a queen!

  • Soloceleste

    But let’s add in the rest of the costs:

    single, with child:  $150-250 per week for childcare.
    single, female (with car issues, no husband), $100-10,000 depending on severity of issue.  I can’t COUNT how many times my husband has done fantastic work on our car that would have landed me at a mechanic.  Boyfriends=unreliable
    single, male, hungry:  100-600 on average per week for fast food or restaurant style “home-cooked meals.
    single, female plus male, living in sin unrepentantly, eternal cost to soul equals= ?!

  • GV

    Have read all (I think) of current comments, most of which pertain to folks under 44. Anybody but me have some comments on why 70-somethings might cohabit (WITH a cohabitation agreement, wills, medical power of atty, etc.)? How about loss of a former/deceased spouse’s pension and/or Social Security and medical benefits!! Having been happily married to late spouse for nearly 40 years, would love the chance to repeat part of that experience but simply can’t afford to. Also not willing to not have daily experience of love in my life. Suspect there will be lots more of us as boomers age.

  • Guest

    Realistically, most of these things don’t matter in most situations.
    Let’s be honest: if tax breaks matter more to you than your relationship with your spouse, you probably shouldn’t be getting married anyway.
    Divorce is not a cost involved in staying married. If you’re planning to divorce or considering it an option, why bother getting married in the first place?
    As a financial aid professional, I can say with certainty that while getting married CAN change your financial aid eligibility, it is far more likely to help than to hurt. In many cases, the independent FAFSA filing status (vs. dependent including parents’ income) makes the student eligible for more aid, especially if one spouse is working and the other is a full time student. The effect is even greater if the married couple is supporting children.

    Clearly, not agreeing on finances is the best reason on the list to not get married. When it comes down to it, if you agree on finances and care about your relationship more than you care about money, the rest of this list virtually disappears.