There are over 2.2 million new marriages in the U.S. every year. Overall, there are approximately 62 million married couples living in the U.S., as of 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Any married couple can list multiple good reasons to engage in marital bliss, with better health, raising kids, (the “future generation”) and being part of a committed relationship at the top of the list.
But there’s another huge benefit of being married that doesn’t seem to generate a lot of buzz, but should. It’s the financial benefits of being married.
In a landmark study in 2005 that continues to be widely cited today, “Marriage and Divorces Impact on Wealth” by Jay Zagorsky, the data point to significant financial gains for married couples as measured against unmarried couples.
“Compared to being single, married people almost doubled their wealth, increasing it over 93%,” said Zagorsky.
What, specifically, are the top-tier financial benefits of getting hitched?
Read on and see what profitable perks await you if you’re heading the chapel and gonna get married.
7 Financial Advantages of Getting Married
1. Social Security Benefits
Social Security comes with some nice financial advantages to the betrothed. For example, spousal survivor benefits can pay out Social Security funds to the surviving spouse after the other spouse dies.
Additionally, spousal benefits not only can pay out after a spouse retires, but spousal benefits apply if a spouse is disabled, as well (as long as the working spouse accumulates enough time on the job to qualify for Social Security benefits – work-related or disability-related.)
Minimum marriage timetables apply to qualify for spousal benefits. You’ll require a minimum of one year into a marriage to earn work-related spousal benefits and at least nine months in marriage to qualify for disability spousal benefits.
2. Tax Related Benefits
While it does depend on a marital couple’s workplace situation, being married can also pay off on the tax front, too.
For instance, if one spouse earns a significantly bigger paycheck than the other spouse, both can benefit from the spouse with the smaller income being in a low tax bracket. That saves money when the I.R.S. comes calling, as the couple can use the one spouse’s lower tax bracket as a tax shelter, as long as they file their taxes jointly.
Married couples filing their taxes jointly largely benefit financially because, under IRS rules, they can file their taxes in a lower tax bracket than can single filers. That’s the case even if the household only has one income-earning spouse.
That’s not all. Married couples also get twice the standard deduction as opposed to single tax filers. While singletons get a $12,200 standard deduction for 2019, married couples get $24,400 as a standard deduction– that comes right off the top of a married couple’s earned income on their tax returns.
3. Estate Planning and Gifting Benefits
Married couples can also slide on taxes stemming from estate planning and charitable gifting.
On the estate planning front, gifts from one spouse to another spouse, otherwise known as the unlimited marital deduction, enables a spouse to give an unlimited amount of cash to his or her spouse, with no taxes or tax penalties involved in the transaction. In 2019, the estate tax exemption was $11.58 million.
For gift taxes, a spouse can gift his or her spouse up to $15,000 tax-free in cash or other qualified assets on an annual basis.
4. Retirement Asset Gathering Advantages
Married couples are also allowed to share retirement income, specifically by being able to inherit one another’s retirement plan accounts and in bundling retirement accounts with personal individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to jack up retirement plan assets.
That move can add years to the timetable of paying either no taxes or deferred taxes on retirement income, and thus curb the amount of money a married couple pays in retirement assets taxes when they start drawing funds from that account in retirement.
Even if only one spouse is an income earner, the other non-working spouse can open up and contribute to a spousal IRA. Single, non-working individuals don’t have that option.
5. Joint Financial Accounts
Whether it’s a basic bank checking or savings account, or a brokerage or mutual fund account, married couples can benefit in multiple ways.
For example, with a joint account, both spouses have equal legal access to the funds, which can simplify household spending, bill-paying, and financial savings. That also promotes transparency between married couples on household financial issues, and keeps any dark financial secrets out of the picture – at least as far as household banking and brokerage accounts go.
After all, the more each spouse knows about household income, the fewer surprises there are, and that can lead to a generally higher level of household happiness.
Additionally, if one spouse dies, the other gains immediate access to household financial accounts. That’s a benefit not available to non-married individuals.
6. Better Chance of Landing a Good Mortgage Deal
Married couples can turn higher combined income and a solid history of combined bill paying and higher credit into a great mortgage deal.
With marriage comes commitment, and mortgage lenders love married couples (preferably two-income couples) because the chances of them sticking together and eventually paying off the mortgage, with interest, are high than they are with single homebuyers, or non-married folks who purchase a home together.
That’s why the combined income of married couples, which qualifies the couple for a larger mortgage loan at an optimal interest rate (as long as both spouses have good credit scores) is so enticing to mortgage lenders.
7. A Leg Up on Credit Score Benefits
As long as one spouse has a sterling credit score (think 700 or higher) married couples can benefit from having both their incomes and credit history calculated into a combined credit score.
That’s due to the fact that creditors and lenders “bundle in” factors like joint debts and financial accounts into their credit-making decisions. Plus, working together, married spouses can lean on each other to improve their credit score, and boosting their financial health overall in a total “team effort.”
Even a spouse with a low credit score can benefit when a married couple, with one spouse with a robust credit score, gets a new credit card. In that scenario, the spouse with the lower credit score will see his or her score improve by riding on the coattails of the spouse with the stronger credit health.
The Takeaway on Marriage and Financial Benefits
All the major elements of a household financial checklist – like Social Security, bank accounts, retirement savings, and taxes, among other categories – tend to see marked improvement once you’re married.
And, as long as you remain married in most cases, both spouses can expect those benefits to not only endure, but get better as the years go by – leading to a happier, healthier lifestyle well into the couples golden years.