Romantic comedies paint marriage as the end-game of any relationship — but it’s really just the beginning, especially when it comes to your finances. In fact, love, marriage and your money have a lot to do with each other.
Once married, you and your spouse will work together to juggle your combined finances with other key responsibilities. Luckily, marriage comes with many financial benefits, although any pessimist will be quick to remind you of some of the unsavory money truths behind marriage.
But if you’re deeply in love and feeling optimistic about the future, here are eight more reasons to get married.
1. You Can Split the Cost of Living
One of the major benefits of marriage is combined finances. With a shared and therefore bigger purse, you can take advantage of savings while splitting the high cost of living.
“Eating for two can be cheaper than eating for one — when it comes to groceries and home cooking. Same goes for that cable bill, internet bill and rent or mortgage expenses,” said April Masini, a relationship expert and author. “Most people save on housing expenses when married, in a way they don’t when single and living alone (without roommates). This allows for more disposable income as a married couple than as two singles living separately.”
A great way for married couples to split living expenses is to divvy them up by percentage. For example, if you make 70 percent of the household income, you should pay 70 percent of the bills. This helps avert an unfair burden if you were to just split the costs 50/50, which doesn’t make sense if your partner’s income is much lower than yours.
2. You Might Fall Into a Lower Tax Bracket
Doing well financially often comes at a high price, in the form of heavier taxes. Worse, if you’re getting married to a partner who also earns a comfortable salary, you could get hit with the marriage penalty.
The marriage penalty occurs due to the nature of U.S. tax law and tax brackets. The annual income needed to fall in the 28 percent tax bracket is $91,151 if you’re single. However, it takes only $151,901 combined income if you’re married and filing jointly to hit the same tax rate. Many people think the married tax rate should be closer to double the amount of their single incomes to be taxed fairly.
The married tax rate, however, can also be one of the best advantages of marriage. If you marry someone with a much lower income, they could pull you down into a lower tax bracket. That means lighter overall taxes for you and your partner.
3. Your Spouse’s Finances Help Yours
“Health can improve when you marry someone who’s got a healthy eating, healthy living style that rubs off on you. Everyone knows that good health affects your finances,” said Masini. “Not just in obvious ways, like less illness, but also in those bad-health derivative ways where you impulse shop for comfort when depressed, or torpedo through pints of high-end ice cream when the world seems against you. That married-rate gym membership may be worth more than the cost of the invoice.”
Talking about finances is perhaps one of the easiest ways to spread good money habits and improve your relationship with your spouse in marriage. The recent TD Bank Love and Money survey found that couples who talked about money more often tended to be happier in their relationship.
4. You’ll Benefit From a Fully Employed Spouse
It’s terribly obvious, but marrying someone who is working full time is a financial benefit in marriage. How your partner is employed, full time versus part time, however, affects more than just your family’s income.
Couples with a husband that isn’t employed full time have a 3.3 percent chance of getting divorced in any given year, versus 2.5 percent of husbands employed full time, found a Harvard University study. That means husbands who aren’t fully employed are 32 percent, or about one-third, more likely to divorce.
Considering how expensive a divorce is, it pays to be employed full time in marriage.
5. You Can Take Advantage of Your Spouse’s Work Benefits
Your life partner can also bring the advantage of work benefits. “A spouse may use a home office so you can deduct that from your taxes and have the benefit when you sell of owning a bigger home than you’d normally be able to afford,” said Masini, adding that other perks from work, like business travel where spouses are invited, can also be a benefit.
Through careful examination, you and your partner can maximize your work benefits by choosing the best combination from each. For example, if you weren’t able to have an IRA when you filed single, you could now use your joint income to fund one, according to TurboTax.
But there are also more intangible benefits your partner can introduce. “A spouse can improve your business life and income because you’re suddenly invited to those couples events that seem out of reach, socially, as a single. Networking, raises and new accounts can follow,” said Masini.
6. You’ll Have Increased Access to Financial Resources
When you get married, you’re gaining not just a life partner, but a new social network. And from this network you can tap into new financial resources your spouse previously had access to alone.
“Marriage means you can get great in-laws and siblings and cousins on your spouse’s side,” said Masini. “These people can be babysitters, job references, advisors, partners — when you marry well, you don’t just get a spouse. You get the benefit of a spouse’s family.”
7. You Can Score Extra Tax Deductions
There are many tax advantages in marriage — you just need to look for them. One of the bigger benefits of marriage involves the amount of your standard deduction.
The standard deduction the IRS allows for married couples is exactly twice as high as the deduction for single people: $12,600 for married filing jointly versus $6,300 for single filers. Plus, most couples can deduct a personal exemption for each spouse, which is $4,050 apiece for tax year 2016.
These doubled deductions are especially beneficial for married couples where one partner doesn’t work. The deductions essentially serve as a bonus for couples with one non-employed partner who wouldn’t normally file a tax return.
8. You Can Avoid Taxes on Lump Sums of Money
If you come into some money, say $14,000 or more, you might want to stop Uncle Sam from getting his hands on it. To get around the IRS gift tax, which is on any gift worth $14,000 or more, think “The Shawshank Redemption” — give the money to your spouse.
The IRS gift tax and estate tax both affect money left to family members. But both also don’t apply to giving money to spouses, which means your gift is tax free. Plus, the gift can take the form of different valuable assets, like jewelry or stock shares.
From GoBankingRates.com: 8 financial reasons to get married