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'Yes, marry for money': A Harvard
Harvard economist Laurence Kotlikoff shares the money benefits of marrying your long-term partner — and how to make sure you don't fall victim to an expensive divorce settlement.
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‘Yes, marry for money’: A top economist shares the surprising financial benefits of marriage
Published Fri, Feb 11 20222:06 PM ESTUpdated Sat, Feb 12 202210:12 AM EST
Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Contributor
Peter Dazeley | Getty Images
Valentine’s Day is almost here, and marriage is all the rage. According to the Wedding Report, there will be some 2.5 million weddings this year — the most since 1984.
As an economist, I’m all for it: Marriage beats partnering long-term. I’m no expert on how to meet the love of your life; my goal is to make sure that you barter for a spouse or partner understanding the economic resources and financial obligations that you each bring to the table.
Yes, bartering for love sounds heartless, but it’s on full display on America’s 1,500 dating apps and websites.
Marrying for money isn’t a bad thing
I’m not claiming that money is the only deciding factor in pairing up. For most of us, love transcends money.
But we humans have the capacity to fall in love with lots of people. And there’s no shame in targeting your swooning on someone who can provide you with a higher standard of living.
Put it this way: If two people are the same in most respects, except one earns twice as much as the other, don’t flip a coin. Go for the higher earner, and yes, marry for money. You won’t be the first to play the oldest financial trick in the book.
Choosing to marry over partnering long-term may mean somewhat higher net taxes, but it comes with an array of valuable implicit insurance arrangements, which the formality and legality of marriage help enforce.
Marriage can mean important Social Security benefits
On top of short-term financial benefits of marrying, like the implicit joining of resources, there are long-term benefits, as well.
First, after just nine months, you’re eligible to collect future widow(er) Social Security benefits. Plus, after one year of marriage, you and your spouse are eligible to collect future spousal benefits. And if you stay married for 10 years, you’re eligible for divorced spousal and divorced widow(er) benefits.
But, to be clear, with the way Social Security’s benefits formulas work, the spousal benefit will be useful only to spouses who earn very little in absolute terms and also earn a lot less than their marital partner.
The widow(er) benefit, on the other hand, can be of tremendous value to the lower-earning spouse (or divorced person), provided the higher-earning spouse (or ex-spouse) dies first.
Get married, but always assume you’ll get divorced
Marriage can also benefit your long-term standard of living, albeit to a highly imperfect and uncertain extent, if you’re awarded alimony in divorce.
An estimated 41% of all first marriages will end in divorce or separation, according to data from California-based law firm Wilkinson & Finkbeiner. Some 60% of second marriages go south, while 73% of third marriages will start with “forever” and end with “sayonara.”
Yet, we all marry convinced we’ll make it. Economists call this phenomenon “irrational expectations” — when people collectively believe in something they know is collectively false.
But wishful thinking about marriage comes at an awful price. Many marriages end in exorbitantly costly divorce war, with children forced to take sides and family ties shredded forever.
Maybe it’s time to reset our idea of marriage from a lifetime partnership to a temporary arrangement that should be celebrated for lasting as long as it does, not lamented for coming apart.
Put a prenup on it
Take the case of hypothetical Sally, who wants her spouse-to-be, Sam, to stay home with the kids while she pursues her lifetime dream of being a contractor. Sally is a go-getter. Her plan is to borrow $1 million, construct and sell a dream house, and use it to showcase her talents.
The problem, from Sam’s perspective, is that fulfilling Sally’s dream means giving up his career. Plus, if they split and the house sells for $500,000, Sam will get stuck with $250,000 in “their” debt.
Moreover, Sally wants to live in Texas, which is far less generous in providing alimony than, say, Massachusetts. So, if Sally’s career takes off, but she takes off with the tile subcontractor, Sam will reap precious little from his investment.
If Sally and Sam marry without resolving this potential conflict, Sam may get cold feet and file for divorce before he co-signs the construction loan. But what if they sign a prenup that assigns, upon divorce, all construction debts to Sally, but provides Sam half the profits if Sally’s company succeeds for, say, 20 years?
This lets Sally take her shot while protecting Sam.
Despite the clear benefit of prenups, not signing one is a huge mistake that many people make. Whatever financial concerns would be addressed in a prenup will inevitably arise once you get married.
It’s far better to negotiate in advance how things will be settled than have one party feel they have, in getting married, lost bargaining power in making financial decisions that could damage them in the context of divorce.
Should we marry for love or for money?
Answer (1 of 103): If you're happy with money, marry for money by all means. It only means there's a good chance you'll have to keep up the illusion of loving someone, and putting a dent in your self-respect for the rest of your life. Then again, if you marry on an empty stomach, you'll suffer f...
Should we marry for love or for money?
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Sort Rahul Ganguly
, Understands the value of earning and spending.
Answered 7 years ago · Author has 411 answers and 915.9K answer views
If you're happy with money, marry for money by all means. It only means there's a good chance you'll have to keep up the illusion of loving someone, and putting a dent in your self-respect for the rest of your life.
Then again, if you marry on an empty stomach, you'll suffer from malnutrition.
The best thing is building a career for yourself and gaining financial freedom and self-respect. Marriage then will become incidental, and then you'll be able to actually afford marrying for love.
You have two choices. A man whom you love and is very rich, another man whom you love even more but is poor. Who would you choose and why?
Which is more important, marrying for money or love?
Which would you prefer to marry, a rich guy but you are not in love with him or a poor guy to whom you really loved but no financially assurance?
If given just the two choices, would you marry for money or for love?
Why do some people marry for money, status, success, and not for love?
David (son of) Elohym
, former Currently Retired Teacher at Compton Unified School District (1994-2002)
Answered 1 year ago · Author has 8.6K answers and 3M answer views
Originally Answered: Should you marry for money or love?
As a man, my advice for men is to NOT get married. Love is in the mind and doesn’t last. Sex usually stops after a year or two. Money is constantly drained from you and usually you never have enough.
Women should marry for money because love is a mirage that disappears when you get to the oasis.
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, Happily married for 24 years and going strong!
Answered 5 years ago · Author has 1.8K answers and 11.7M answer views
When I first went out on a date with her, I had $60 and a car. We fell in love and we're more in love today than when we first married 24 years ago.
“True love” sounds corny as hell….but it's real, the realist thing I know, and there is no amount of money that could tear me away from her.
If you are wise, you'll marry for love, because when the years grow long and the days grow short and cold, money might warm your skin, but it can't warm your heart or your soul.
Marry for love and only for love. I don't want you to find out the hard way what happens when you marry for money.
, I believe in love stories! :D
Answered 6 years ago · Author has 805 answers and 3.1M answer views
What would I (you) do with a house but with having no one at home what reason would make me come home from work?
Why would I do dining at a 7 star if I can't share what I feel with the person dining with me?
Why would I dress up with Gucci and Armani if I can't dress up a smile or share laughter which comes from the heart only with loved ones.
I will choose to be with my loved ones even if it means staying under a shack, humble meal and simple clothes. I'd suggest you to too. :)
Even Master card says..."there are some things money can't buy" :P
Marry the person you love and you'll find all the happ
Should you marry for love or money if you have to choose? Does money make marriage easier?
How should I cope with the tough choice between marrying a poor man I love, or an affluent and clever man I am ok with?
Is it better to marry someone rich for security or marry someone poor for love?
There are two guys who love me. One is poor and the other one is rich. The poor guy tries to make me smile and happy all the time with little efforts he makes. The rich one also loves me as equally but doesn't show much. Which is perfect for me?
Is it better to marry for money and hope to fall in love, or to marry for love and hope for money?
, former Film/TV scriptwriter
Answered 3 years ago · Author has 9.5K answers and 28M answer views
When you say ‘We’, do you mean you and me?’
I don’t even know you, and I would never marry anyone who would ask such a question
Please don’t contact me again through Quora
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Originally Answered: Which would you marry for, love or money?
Do Americans marry for love or money? Finally, an answer
A recent study by Merrill Lynch looks at our relationship with finance and romance.
Home Personal Finance Love & Money
Love & Money
Love & Money Do Americans marry for love or money? Finally, an answer
Published: Feb. 14, 2019 at 6:01 p.m. ET
A recent study by Merrill Lynch looks at our relationship with finance and romance
Generation Z is the only cohort in a Merrill Edge survey to choose love over money.
FIRST LOOK INTERNATIONAL/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION
BAC -1.41% DJIA -0.33% SPX -0.13% FB +1.32% IAC -0.83%Love & Money is a new MarketWatch series looking at how issues surrounding money impact our relationships with significant others, friends and family.
Does the size of your partner’s bank account matter?
People are more realistic than romantic by the time they wed, Abby Rodman, a psychotherapist in Boston, told MarketWatch. “We’re living in a time when people are waiting longer to get married,” she said. “Today, both genders are closing in on 30 by the time they tie the knot. If they’ve already experienced a long-term, ‘head over heels’ relationship before marriage, they’ve also learned that those crazy in love feelings do subside over time.” She described this as a “somber maturity.”
Research supports her theory. Some 56% of Americans say they want a partner who provides financial security more than “head over heels” love (44%), a recent survey released by Merrill Edge, an online discount brokerage and division of Bank of America Merrill Lynch BAC, -1.41%, found. This sentiment is held in almost equal measure by both men and women (54% and 57%). Generation Z (born between 1996 and 2010) is the only cohort to choose love (54%) over money.
“‘Both genders are closing in on 30 by the time they tie the knot. If they’ve already experienced a long-term, ‘head over heels’ relationship before marriage, they’ve also learned that those crazy in love feelings do subside over time.’”
— —Abby Rodman, a psychotherapist in Boston
The reason for choosing money over love? Aron Levine, head of Consumer Banking and Merrill Edge, blamed “a lack of financial planning.” Merrill Edge polled more than 1,000 people aged 18 to 40 with investable assets between $20,000 and $250,000. For this purpose, investable assets was defined as the value of all cash, savings, mutual funds, CDs, IRAs, stocks, bonds and all other types of investments such as a 401(k), 403(b), and Roth IRA, but excluding a primary home and other real estate investments.
And even though they want partners with a certain socioeconomic status or someone who made some smart bets on the Dow Jones Industrial Index DJIA, -0.33% or S&P 500 SPX, -0.13%, the respondents said they remained coy about their own finances. They ranked nearly all major relationship milestones — including meeting their prospective in-laws, being intimate, traveling together and discussing politics — ahead of discussing their finances. They said they postpone the “money talk” with their significant others, especially when the topic is debt (60%), salary (57%), investments (55%) and spending habits (51%).
Priorities may change with a second wedding
Such attitudes may also depend on whether it’s wedding No. 1, 2 or 3. “I am a hopeless romantic,” said Randy Kessler, who wrote the book, “Divorce: Protect Yourself, Your Kids, and Your Future,” and also practices family law in Atlanta, Ga. “I still think people marry more for romance than for finance. However, for a second or third marriage, people may be looking for financial security after their divorce left them with a sense of severe financial insecurity.”
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis reportedly said, ”The first time you marry for love, the second for money and the third for companionship.” In 2019, that third try could involve a college sweetheart who re-appeared on Facebook FB, +1.32%. After the death of President Kennedy, “Jackie’s next step was to think about her children, including their financial security,” said Fran Walfish, author of “The Self-Aware Parent” and a Beverly Hills psychotherapist. “Marriage doesn’t hold the same lifelong commitment that it did in prior generations,” she said.Don’t miss:This is how much credit-card debt makes you undatable
This is not the first study to find that love, marriage and socioeconomic status go hand-in-hand. A recent analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center, found that, among adults ages 25 and older, 65% with a four-year college degree were married, compared with 55% of those with some college education and 50% among those with no education beyond high school. “Twenty-five years earlier, the marriage rate was above 60% for each of these groups,” it said.
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“‘I am a hopeless romantic. I still think people marry more for romance than for finance. However, for a second or third marriage, people may be looking for financial security after their divorce left them with a sense of severe financial insecurity.’”