Wanna Get Rich? Get Hitched (And Stay That Way)

Aug 28

The other day my husband turned to me and said with a sigh, “Life has been too easy for us.  It can’t possibly go on like this forever.”  Pardon?  Certainly, I’d agree that Charles Dickens would have been hard-pressed to find literary inspiration from our lives, but too easy?  Memories of nauseous pregnancies, sleepless nights, colicky babies, and whining toddlers from the past eight years raced across my mind like an episode of Super Nanny.  Those days when a pot of coffee beat back my exhaustion and drops of adult conversation preserved my sanity were not recalled as vividly for my husband who escaped to a muted office cubicle every day as I was P.T. Barnum at home.  Too easy?  I didn’t think so.


He was, as it turned out, referring specifically to our family finances after reading an article on the ballooning costs of a university education which we would one day be doling out for our three future surgeons… engineers? … or, um, general arts graduates.  Suspecting that he was trying to get off the hook for starting our next renovation project, I stated he was ridiculous and stomped off in a huff.  But in reality, I knew he was right.  In our twelve years of marriage, we have always been able to fully pay our bills on time and buy whatever we need (or really, really want) without much scrimping and saving.  However, we’ve also abstained from many luxuries that are simply beyond our budgetary grasp such as hiring a much needed housecleaner, going on island vacations, and paying retail at the Gap.  Perhaps it was time to trim our spending to ensure our future savings would cover that most important of goals – one that we both equally endorsed – our children’s post-secondary education.


As with most married couples, money has been the cause of many battles, yet it has also been a catalyst for peaceful negotiation and the melding of often divergent goals.  It has, in essence, created a system of checks and balances that ensure our hard-earned dollars don’t easily escape the crease in our family wallet.  Our “I do” to wedded bliss was the first of a string of “I do’s” in the give and take of conjugal mediation – with finance being a particularly popular subject.

“Do you mind if I buy another pair of stiletto boots?”  “I do.”

“Do you think I’m crazy to ask if I can go golfing with the guys next weekend?”  “I do.”

“Do you think we should replace our old barbecue?”  “I do.”

“With a $4000 Weber?”  “I don’t.”


Perhaps the ease in our lives (remember, we’re just talking money here) has less to do with luck and more to do with the need for consensus in all our financial decisions.  Indeed, a study on how marriage impacts wealth, by Jay Zagorsky of OhioStateUniversity, indicates that couples who marry and – this is important – stay married, tend to accumulate more wealth than their single or divorced counterparts.  Married individuals experienced a 16% annual increase in wealth compared to the average single or divorced individual who scraped out an annual increase of 8% and 14%, respectively.  So, clearly my husband can expect this “easy” life to continue “till death do us part.”  However, if we should part before that, all bets are off.  According to the same survey, divorce can cripple a person’s wealth – reducing it by 77% when compared to a single person (while staying married almost doubles one’s wealth.) 


It’s a good thing I love roller coaster rides, because when I look back at the past twelve years I can‚Äôt believe all the dips, lifts, and surprise turns we‚Äôve experienced together ‚Äì some fantastic, others not so great.¬† And I can only imagine what amazing twists we will face over the next decade, but it‚Äôs good to know one thing is for certain ‚Äì our wealth will very likely keep going up.


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One comment

  1. Now, let’s move onto consumers that make $500,000 a year. No, not billionaires. Maybe, not even millionaires but. But, could you live on $500,000 a year? Needless to say you could.

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