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What Are the Financial Benefits of Marriage?

Tying the knot could benefit your wallet in myriad ways, including when you budget, file your taxes and bundle financial products like insurance.

Written by Ben Luthi / September 2, 2022

Quick Bites

  • The decision to get married is a complex one, but the financial benefits can help in the argument for tying the knot.
  • The financial benefits of marriage can impact almost every aspect of your financial plan, including taxes, retirement, budgeting, insurance and more.
  • The financial aspect of marriage is just one element to consider before deciding to get married.

Marriage is a significant commitment, and there are many different factors that go into the decision of whether or not to tie the knot with a beloved partner.

One major aspect to consider is how marriage can impact your finances. While mixing finances with a spouse can be a complex process, there are some clear benefits to doing so, at least on some level.

Understanding how getting married can impact your wallet—for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer—can help you with your decision.

7 financial benefits of marriage

Here are some of the benefits you may be able to take advantage of when getting married. Keep in mind, though, that every situation is different, and the financial benefits of marriage are just one piece of the puzzle.

1. Tax breaks

Married couples who file their tax returns jointly qualify for higher tax deductions and credits than single filers. This is beneficial because you'll also be combining your incomes on a joint tax return. And if you own a home together, the exclusion for taxes on the proceeds of the sale is doubled.[1]

"There are also substantial estate tax benefits to being married if you have amassed a large financial estate," says Matthew Grisham, principal and wealth adviser at Gebhardt Group.

On rare occasions, it may make sense for married couples to file separate returns, but doing this typically limits your tax breaks.[1] On the flip side, if both spouses are high-income earners, it could potentially increase the tax burden.[2]

2. Social Security benefits

Disability and retirement benefits offered through the Social Security Administration (SSA) don't change when you get married.[3] However, you may qualify for benefits if your spouse dies, as long as you don't remarry by age 60 (or 50 if you're disabled). If your marriage lasts at least 10 years, you can even receive benefits if you divorce before they pass.[4]

That said, marriage could potentially negatively impact Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which provides benefits to help blind, elderly and disabled individuals with little or no income.[5] The maximum benefit for an eligible couple is 75% of the combined maximum benefit for each individual if they remain single.[6]

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3. Obtaining credit

Getting married doesn't impact your credit score, and, contrary to what some may believe, you don't combine your credit reports. [7]

However, if one spouse has a better credit history than the other, it could improve the second spouse's chances of getting approved for credit if the first one cosigns their application. Additionally, you can generally include your combined household income on credit applications, which could increase the amount you’re approved by lenders borrow.[8]

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4. Insurance savings

It's a good idea to shop around for auto, homeowners and similar insurance policies after you get married. This is because married couples typically qualify for lower premiums than if they were to apply individually as single policyholders.[9]

According to insurance comparison website The Zebra, getting married can result in a 6.5% discount on your auto insurance, on average.[10]

5. Access to benefits

If your spouse has access to certain benefits that you don't, you may be able to take advantage of them for yourself.

"I am a small business owner and the health insurance plan we offer within my company for our employees is very expensive," says Grisham. "My wife, however, works for a large school district and her plan is a large self-insured plan offered directly from her school district. As her spouse, I am allowed to participate in her plan at a much lower cost than if I were to have my health insurance through my company's plan."[11]

You may also be able to take advantage of military benefits and perks from other organizations your spouse may belong to.[12-13]

6. Individual retirement account contributions

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) can provide tax benefits for those who contribute, but you have to meet certain income requirements to be able to contribute to a Roth IRA. And while there's no income limit for traditional IRAs, you can't deduct your contributions if your income is too high.[14-15]

The income limits for married couples filing joint tax returns are less than double the limit for single filers. But if one spouse has no income, the other technically benefits from a higher limit than what they'd have if they were single.[15]

What's more, a spousal IRA allows a working spouse to contribute to an IRA on behalf of their non-working spouse who earns little to no income.[14]

7. Sharing costs

While there are now two of you, not all of your costs will double. For example, instead of living separately and making two rent or mortgage payments, you'll now have just one. You can also share streaming subscriptions, take advantage of bulk grocery prices, split utilities and cut down on many other expenses that you were previously covering on your own. Your budget should have more room, not less, unless of course kids enter the picture.

Do the financial benefits make marriage worth it?

The financial benefits of marriage aren't enough on their own to decide whether tying the knot is the right decision, but they can certainly add to the argument in favor of the institution. 

There are many other factors to consider when deciding whether to get married, including love, compatibility, commitment, trust, communication, intimacy, friendship and more. As with all of these elements, it's also critical that you discuss finances with your partner to determine if you're a good match.

Also, keep in mind that while getting married can result in some financial perks, money can also be a major source of stress and contention.

"Conflict over money and finances is one of the primary reasons marriages fail. Unwinding the finances of a married couple can be a very complicated and extremely costly process," says Grisham. "Get married because you love someone and you want to spend the rest of your life loving that person."

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Article Sources
  1. "TAS Tax Tip: Got married? Here are some tax ramifications to consider and actions to take now," Taxpayer Advocate Service, Oct. 27, 2021, https://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/news/tas-tax-tip-got-married-here-are-some-tax-ramifications-to-consider-and-actions-to-take-now/.
  2. "What are marriage penalties and bonuses?" Tax Policy Center, https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/what-are-marriage-penalties-and-bonuses.
  3. "If I get married, will it affect my benefits?" SSA, July 26, 2022, https://faq.ssa.gov/en-us/Topic/article/KA-02172.
  4. "If You Are The Survivor," SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/survivors/ifyou.html.
  5. "Supplemental Security Income Home Page," SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/.
  6. "SSI Federal Payment Amounts For 2022," SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/SSI.html.
  7. "Myths vs. Facts: Marriage and Credit," Equifax, https://www.equifax.com/personal/education/life-stages/myths-vs.-facts-marriage-and-credit/.
  8. "How is a credit score calculated on a joint mortgage," Chase, https://www.chase.com/personal/mortgage/education/financing-a-home/how-credit-calculated-on-joint-mortgage.
  9. "Married," Insurance Information Institute, https://www.iii.org/article/married.
  10. "2021 The State of Auto Insurance," The Zebra, https://www.thezebra.com/state-of-insurance/auto/2021/reports/The-Zebra-State-of-Auto-Insurance-Report-2021.pdf.
  11. "Life Changes Require Health Choices...Know Your Benefit Options," U.S. Department of Labor, https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/publications/life-changes-require-health-choices.pdf.
  12. "Marriage," MilConnect, https://milconnect.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect/public/faq/Life_Events-Marriage.
  13. "Extra cards for a Club-level Membership," Sam's Club, https://help.samsclub.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/206/~/extra-cards-for-a-club-level-membership.
  14. "Retirement Topics—IRA Contribution Limits," IRS, https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-ira-contribution-limits.
  15. "2022 IRA Contribution and Deduction Limits Effect of Modified AGI on Deductible Contributions If You ARE Covered by a Retirement Plan at Work," IRS, https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/2022-ira-contribution-and-deduction-limits-effect-of-modified-agi-on-deductible-contributions-if-you-are-covered-by-a-retirement-plan-at-work.

About the Author

Ben Luthi

Ben Luthi

Ben has been writing about money since 2013. He's been on staff at NerdWallet as a credit card writer and for Student Loan Hero, where he covered student loans and other personal finance topics. Ben's work has appeared in U.S. News, The New York Times, Experian, FICO, Credit Karma, Bankrate and more

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