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Marriage and Money: How Getting Married Can Impact Your Finances
When you and your partner first became engaged, did you immediately discuss the tax implications of your decision? Chances are no — you were too busy enjoying the moment and imagining the journey you were preparing to embark on. As glorious as planning for a future and a wedding are, the reality is, nearly all dreams cost money. From paying for a dream wedding to paying taxes after you get married, the financial choices you make today could have a big impact later on down the road.
While most wedding tips focus on the fun details like the location, guest list, and food, we'd like to offer wedding tips from a different perspective — a financial one — that empower you to make big money decisions based on facts during this special time.
Marriage and money benefits
You probably didn't get engaged for the marriage tax benefits, but the good news is, there are numerous advantages from a money perspective. Many people may assume it's bad for couples (financially speaking) to get married because they end up paying more for taxes or other expenses. Sure, you now have two sources of income and only pay for one place to live, but there may be even more benefits than you realize.
Marriage can change your insurance
For starters, when you get married, it’s possible your spouse may have better healthcare benefits, which you may be able to access. Getting married is a life event and is an ideal time to take advantage of changes in health insurance, which may be cheaper than what you are currently paying.
The potential savings don't stop at healthcare premiums though. Your auto insurance could benefit too, since many married couples can earn discounts by bundling more vehicles and policies together.
Tax benefits of marriage
Now it's possible when you get married that you qualify for a lower tax bracket, often eliminating the so-called "marriage penalty tax." Before changes in tax laws, couples used to be penalized with higher tax brackets when their incomes were combined. Today, tax brackets are closer in line with what you were when you filed single so a couple may not be penalized for combining their incomes and filing jointly, which could help reduce your overall tax bill.
Ways to pay for a wedding
When you are engaged, one of the biggest financial decisions you and your partner need to make together is how to pay for your wedding. With median wedding budgets per couple easily reaching $20,000, the discussion needs to occur as quickly as possible, so you can set your budget and the strategy to pay for it.
Most people do not have access to tens of thousands of dollars to spend without any regard to where it's going. Even without a large sum at hand, there are a variety of ways to pay for a wedding. Fortunately, you can use multiple tactics to cover the costs, which include:
- Ask for money. Reaching out to family members or friends to ask for contributions is one method to help offset costs. Traditionally, a bride's family was expected to pay for the majority of expenses. Today's couples are no longer adhering to these "rules" and are getting both sides of the family involved in sharing the costs.
- Cut back on expenses. Paying for a wedding is an ideal time to review your personal budget to see where you have opportunities to cut out some expenses to allocate towards a wedding. You may decide you can forgo pricy subscriptions for a few months or eating out as much to increase wedding funds.
- Establish monthly savings or draw from savings. If your monthly budget has room to spare then set up a savings account specifically earmarked for wedding expenses. You can even set up automatic withdrawals.
- Earn extra income. With today's gig economy, there are more ways than ever to earn additional income; ideas range from food delivery drivers and rideshares, to online gigs like freelancing or consulting. You can also make money with services, such as dog walking, babysitting, or home projects.
- Use a credit card. Most wedding items can be paid for with a credit card, but this comes with its downsides. You most likely have to pay interest on these purchases and taking on more debt can harm your credit score. This could be an issue if you plan to purchase a property or vehicle soon.
- Use a personal loan. If you've exhausted all options for paying for a wedding, you may consider taking on a personal loan. Like a credit card, there are interest charges and impacts to your credit report to keep in mind, but it could be a convenient option that you can pay off over time.
Pros and cons of using a personal loan to pay for a wedding
Many brides and grooms may not initially plan on using a personal loan to pay for their wedding, and it's advice not often included in financial wedding tips. Make sure to carefully consider the pros and cons before taking on additional debt.
- Funding typically occurs quickly once approved, sometimes within a few hours depending on the lender.
- The funding you receive can be used towards a variety of expenses you may have, giving you greater flexibility for wedding planning.
- There are numerous personal loan options which means more competition. It could mean more favorable interest rates and repayment terms for you.
- There may be higher borrowing limits available to you with a personal loan, versus the borrowing limit of a credit card or family member.
- Defaulting on a personal loan payment has serious consequences to both your credit and stress levels. A tarnished credit report can prevent you from future borrowing opportunities, such as applying for another credit card, auto loan, or mortgage.
- The interest rate added to the loan means you could pay hundreds (or thousands) more than the purchase price.
- The required monthly payments could put stress on a budget and prevent spending on other important categories. If you're already struggling with monthly payments then taking on a personal loan will only make it harder.
Should I take out a personal loan for wedding expenses?
Taking out a personal loan for wedding expenses is a big decision with even bigger financial consequences. The impact to your credit score and the required monthly payment for payback may make it undesirable for you and your partner. Or, you may be comfortable with these concerns and feel it is worth it to finance your dream wedding. A personal loan can offer a quick infusion of funds and possibly a better interest rate (versus a credit card) so you can move on with your wedding plans.
The bottom line
Whatever decision you make with how to pay for your wedding, it's one that both you and your partner need to discuss thoroughly. This not only holds true for weddings, but also all financial decisions you have to make as a couple. Getting married brings on an entirely new dynamic to finances and by working together, you two can make the most of the financial advantages it offers.