Can I afford to get married?
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Financial Problems in Marriage When financial times are tough, it adds to the stress we deal with on a daily basis. This section is for talking about how financial problems affect our relationships and ways to cope.

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Old 01-22-2012, 02:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Can I afford to get married?

I am currently single and am drawn to the conclusion that I do not make enough money to ever consider marriage. My current finances are:

Annual income before taxes: $55,000
Annual Income after taxes: $40,000
My annual living expenses: $15,000 (one bedroom apartment)
Annual disposable income and savings: $25,000

Every girl I have met over the past few years has extremely limited or no earning potential with a cost of living higher than mine. I've been told child care is over $10,000 annually. If I were to ever get married and have a kid and my wife could only make minimum wage at a part-time job, it would only be smart for her to stay at home to take care of a child and save the money that would have been spent on day care. Considering this, the costs of marriage are:

Income before taxes: $55,000
Income after taxes: $40,000
My annual living expenses: $15,000
Her annual living expenses: $20,000
Added annual expenses as a home buyer: $15,000
Annual costs of raising a child: $15,000
Annual disposable income and savings: -$25,000

If I get married, I will be $25,000 in the hole every year unless:

1. I increase my annual income by at least $25,000
2. She is able to earn that $25,000 plus child daycare costs

Should I be drawn to the conclusion that my annual salary is too low to ever consider marriage, or should I expect any potential wife to hold a job? Do most married men make at least $80,000 annually? From what I recall, the average annual income for a peson in Texas is $40,000. Should I reconsider my career for one with more earning potential if I ever consider getting married?

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Old 01-22-2012, 03:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

There is no right time to marry. There is also no right salary to indicate that you're ready for marriage. I read somewhere that less people are getting married because of the bad economy. You're ready to marry when you find the right person. Just don't spend a fortune or go into debt for the wedding.

Honestly, I think you make enough. When my husband and I got married, we were both unemployed and had a child on the way. He eventually found a job and I got a great financial aid package for graduate school. We lived on less than 35,000 a year for 3 years. We made scarifices but never felt deprived in any way. We were creative for childcare, went to the museums on free days, and bought a single family home. We still managed to take family trips during the holidays and have a comfortable savings account.

Now that i'm done with school and work full time, we are doing so much better financially but our lifestyle have not changed that much. Hope that helps.
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Old 01-22-2012, 04:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

Thanks for the reply. I feel more comfortable with numbers. According to my numbers, I'm putting myself in debt $25,000 per year at my current salary if I want to get married and have a kid. That means $100,000 debt in 4 years. That may very well mean having to sell our house and move into a crampt tiny apartment. Although $55,000 may be a measly salary by most people's standards, I feel I've worked too hard to live the rest of my life in poverty.

As of now, I am single and have no financial worries because of my low cost of living. If I lose my job for whatever reason, I know I have 4 years living expenses in the bank and will have no need to panic.

Will I need to say good-bye to my sense of financial security if I ever get married? Is it common for the husband to pay 100% of the finances? Do many wives hold jobs that contribute to the family finances?

Are my estimates of raising a kid wrong? Are my expectations of a wife's ZERO earning potential wrong?
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Old 01-22-2012, 04:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

Spk,

A bit more info about you could help.
How old are you? Do you have a college degree or some kind of trade school training that would lead to a career with a good possibility to your income going up significantly over time? Do you live in the USA? If not what country?

Like you I’m a lot more comfortable with numbers when it comes to issues like this.

When you are calculating what it costs to have a family, you need to consider the additional tax break for each person in your family. If you have a software program like Turbo Tax you can run different scenarios.. like how much of a tax break just a wife will make. How much of a tax break a child will make. If you earn $55K a year and have a wife and child you will pay significantly less in federal and state income taxes.

Some people will give me grief for this.. but seriously making sure that one’s family is financially fit is extremely important. You need not look for a woman who can bring in an income on her own right.

Look for a woman how earns about what you do. To me it’s important that both of you have the ability to earn enough to support the family on your own if something happens, like one of you loses your job, one of you becomes too ill to work. Even one of you takes some time off work to be a stay-at-home parent, that person can get back into the work force easily once the children are in school.

More and more couples are defining their own financial model of who they fun their own family and finances. For example it is traditional for the man to the be the bread winner. But in my family I am the breadwinner and the wife takes care of the children and home. In many families both spouses work, share child care and house work evenly. This is something that you and your wife will need to work out. And it can/will be different at different times in your marriage as the two of you go through life.
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

I don't think marriage has much to do with money.
Are you trying to put a price tag on a woman?
Just any woman, shopping around in your price range?
What if there were some woman out there who made $300K a year and decided she couldn't afford you?
I think your perspective on this is very limited.
First of all, it's based on the assumption that a woman is going to be a static line in your balance sheet. Then you're assuming that your children are going to be healthy. And that you will be able to buy a house, prior to losing it of course. And that nobody will ever run a red light and smash into your car at an intersection and leave you in a coma for a few months and then permanently disabled afterwards. Unable to speak and eating through a tube.
Also the assumption that someone would want to marry a guy who has such rigid plans.
This post has just left me with my jaw hanging open.
Please tell me this is not the way most men think about getting married? Women with ovaries have price tags on them?

I think EleGirl puts it more eloquently than me.
But really, as a woman I've had years of making 50K with barely working and 20K working my butt off at something I love...lifestyle has never taken a hit, always been there for my kids, including one who had a disability for a long while (and still has limitations).
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

I am 31 years old and have an MBA degree from a state university in finance with roughly five years professional experience. In my opinion, I have an impressive resume. Of course, when compared to hundreds of applicants in brutal competition for a job, it's not so hot. I wasn't lucky enough to graduate from high school at the age of seven and hit a home-run every day ever since. I would need a CPA license to enhance my earning potential.

Earning a CPA license would first require 60 hours in advanced accounting courses from a university. One of the more popular universities in my state is roughly $30,000 per year. Earning 60 hours would require 2 years at 15 hours per semester at $60,000 in tuition and fees. I would also have to quit my job to attend full time as the 3-hour commute every day would not be practical. Quitting my job and depleting my savings by $60,000 would be a real blow to my finances. This excludes the cost of applying for the CPA exam. Most people do not pass on the first try and require multiple attempts and consequently multiple exam fees. Obtaing a CPA license would be extremely expensive for me.

I think that if I wait for woman who has comparable earning potential as I (even at a measly 50k per year), I may be waiting for the rest of my life. Most women I meet who are in my age bracket are still living at home with their parents with no plan and not the slightest clue whatsoever regarding a future career of their own.

Whenever I meet a woman with a job, she almost always has a rock on her finger. In fact, every woman I meet who does not have serious problems in her life already has a rock on her finger. Most women I have met would have been completely dependent on me for all finances.

Basd on the prior response, it sounds like this is abnormal and that I should expect to be able to find a woman who is willing and able to make more than minimum wage.
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

I think that you may be making a few errors in your estimations. The first one I see is that you seem to be double counting a lot of living expenses. I'm assuming that you are including rent, food, utilities and car expenses in your estimation of living expenses, correct? If you are assuming that a potential spouse has higher living expenses, are you including those same items in that cost? If so, then you're including two rents, two full utilities, double groceries, etc. in that. In addition, if you're including an annual $15k additional expenses for home ownership in addition to the two rental line items, you're way overestimating. Basically it looks as though you've added in two full rents and a house payment when you would only be actually paying out one of those. Moreover, utilities wouldn't double across the board, only increase incrementally for an additional person and slightly larger space. In my house, the weeks that my husband is on call and not at home to eat, my grocery tab is about 75% of what it is when I shop for both of us. Two can't live as cheaply as one, but they can generally live for less than double the cost of one.

Your estimation for a child also looks as though you're assuming that your wife will not work, and yet the child will require full time day care. I'm guessing that the expenses for a child without day are would be about half or less what you're estimating.

I'd also point out that there are a lot of "living expenses" that are flexible. I know that if we ever had to live on just my husband's salary, there would be a huge difference in our grocery habits, grooming, clothing, etc. And frankly, a lot of them would be pretty painless changes, requiring more thought than anything else.

As far as expectations for the financial contributions of each partner go, that's highly individual. I personally don't know ANY stay at home mom's. Almost every one of my female friends earns income that significantly contributes to the household coffers. I earn about the same as my husband, and know that's not uncommon for most of my friends. Others are in professional fields that don't hold the same earning potential as their spouses, but are a long, long way from minimum wage. It's important to remember too that income isn't static. Presumably, as experience, education and seniority kick in, wages increase as well. I've been promoted or changed jobs about every 2 - 3 years and it's never been for a new job that pays less, you know?

I think it's more about finding someone that shares your values about money and homelife. If having someone stay at home with the kids is important, then you should be on the same page about spending, saving, lifestyle, etc. Regardless, those are important things to be in agreement about for a marriage, but once you start adding in kids and stuff, it becomes even more important.
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

Dude, I was earning half that when I got married (granted that was 15 years ago, but even accounting for inflation it was less). My wife made even less than I. We're both highly educated people who made the choice to enter rewarding, but not terribly well paying, career fields.

Is there something about you that makes you uniquely incapable of attracting a mate with similar earning power and potential? Why are you only dating unemployed/underemployed women?
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Homemaker_Numero_Uno View Post
I don't think marriage has much to do with money.
Are you trying to put a price tag on a woman?
Just any woman, shopping around in your price range?
What if there were some woman out there who made $300K a year and decided she couldn't afford you?
I think your perspective on this is very limited.
First of all, it's based on the assumption that a woman is going to be a static line in your balance sheet. Then you're assuming that your children are going to be healthy. And that you will be able to buy a house, prior to losing it of course. And that nobody will ever run a red light and smash into your car at an intersection and leave you in a coma for a few months and then permanently disabled afterwards. Unable to speak and eating through a tube.
Also the assumption that someone would want to marry a guy who has such rigid plans.
This post has just left me with my jaw hanging open.
Please tell me this is not the way most men think about getting married? Women with ovaries have price tags on them?

I think EleGirl puts it more eloquently than me.
But really, as a woman I've had years of making 50K with barely working and 20K working my butt off at something I love...lifestyle has never taken a hit, always been there for my kids, including one who had a disability for a long while (and still has limitations).
I just want to know if marriage means living the rest of my life in poverty. It's not that I will object to marrying the right girl even if it means living in poverty for the rest of my life, but I would like to at least know beforehand. As of right now, I'm single with no marriage plans.

How would you feel if you worked hard your entire life for a sense of financial security and then married a man with a cost of living so high and an earning potential so low that it meant you would have to move back in with your parents rather than having a place of your own with him? Not that you would object, but wouldn't you at least like to know?

I'm not putting a price tag on a woman. I just want to know if I'm a slacker who needs to reconsider his career before thinking about marriage. I want to survive, but I don't want to survive under a bridge. As of now, I'm able to pay my bills and add to savings with no problem as a bachelor. I hope to someday be a home owner.

I want to know if I have suitable finances to consider marriage or if I'll have to convince a future wife to live with me and my parents in their basement and have lunchables for dinner every night for the rest of our lives. Last time I checked, most women didn't like having lunchables for dinner. If that's the case, it's my job to get a second job or reconsider my career.

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Old 01-22-2012, 05:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

I think it might be best for you if you were single for a while longer, and instead of spending your time to get the CPA as you have a bad feeling about that, invest instead. I knew a guy who married a woman who earned measley money (according to your measures) and he took the wife's paycheck and invested it. When they had children, she stayed home with them and all fo those expenses were taken care of by the investment. It worked out wonderfully, especially since one of the children developed a psychiatric disability and the other one was gender exploratory and needed more clothes and hair salon visits and waxing than one would have expected.

I think with your savings and income you can afford some nice affairs, and there is no need to get married right now as it would be too angsty for you no matter what the woman was earning, you would worry about her getting pregnant or losing her job, and you'd scare her off before even getting down the aisle.

You might start a business and hire from abroad. Then you have an employee who you can perhaps marry, and I have seen that work out as well.
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Old 01-22-2012, 06:14 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

My husband lost his job soon after he proposed to me. It took him a year to find work and this was in 2008, when the recession hit full force.

We eloped because we could not afford a real wedding. We are finally leaving our small one bedroom apartment, after nearly four years of being here. I made those sacrifices because our love is priceless and I understood that money can come and go.

If the love and work ethic is there, couples can work together to acheive financial goals. You are reducing marriage to strictly a financial proposition.

My parents have lived in a four bedroom home and raised four children. When they met nearly forty years ago, all they could afford was a room and they had no car for years when they lived in the city we currently reside in.
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Old 01-22-2012, 06:32 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

Quote:
Originally Posted by spk14 View Post
Basd on the prior response, it sounds like this is abnormal and that I should expect to be able to find a woman who is willing and able to make more than minimum wage.
I a woman who earns 6 figures as a software engineer. I work for a fortune 100 engineering firm. About half of the engineering staff is female.. most of them young. Many of them unmarried. Their starting salary right out of college is more than 50K.

I don't know what city/state you live in, but there are a lot of well educated, well employed young women out there your age who have a problem meeting good men who actually have a good job and who want to get married.

The point is that you have to look for the women where the women are.

Where do you meet all of these women who only earn minimum wage? Where are you looking for women?
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Old 01-22-2012, 06:33 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

Quote:
Originally Posted by spk14 View Post
I am 31 years old and have an MBA degree from a state university in finance with roughly five years professional experience. In my opinion, I have an impressive resume. Of course, when compared to hundreds of applicants in brutal competition for a job, it's not so hot. I wasn't lucky enough to graduate from high school at the age of seven and hit a home-run every day ever since. I would need a CPA license to enhance my earning potential.

Earning a CPA license would first require 60 hours in advanced accounting courses from a university. One of the more popular universities in my state is roughly $30,000 per year. Earning 60 hours would require 2 years at 15 hours per semester at $60,000 in tuition and fees. I would also have to quit my job to attend full time as the 3-hour commute every day would not be practical. Quitting my job and depleting my savings by $60,000 would be a real blow to my finances. This excludes the cost of applying for the CPA exam. Most people do not pass on the first try and require multiple attempts and consequently multiple exam fees. Obtaing a CPA license would be extremely expensive for me.

I think that if I wait for woman who has comparable earning potential as I (even at a measly 50k per year), I may be waiting for the rest of my life. Most women I meet who are in my age bracket are still living at home with their parents with no plan and not the slightest clue whatsoever regarding a future career of their own.

Whenever I meet a woman with a job, she almost always has a rock on her finger. In fact, every woman I meet who does not have serious problems in her life already has a rock on her finger. Most women I have met would have been completely dependent on me for all finances.

Basd on the prior response, it sounds like this is abnormal and that I should expect to be able to find a woman who is willing and able to make more than minimum wage.
Just out of curiosity, which part of Texas are you in? I'm having a hard time picturing too many places there where you'd be 3 hours from a university. My guess is South Texas somewhere, especially if the culture lends itself to people living at home until married--just a shot in the dark though. I grew up in El Paso, so I think I get a lot of what you're saying.

Also, I don't know what area of finance you're in, but have you looked at a CFP instead of a CPA? That can be pretty lucrative and doesn't come with the additional education requirement if you already have a masters, as far as I know. Online education is also a good choice for a lot of people and I know that the business schools at the big 3 schools have quite a bit of online options. Then you could do it part-time over several years, no matter what the course was.

I got my masters and all of my certifications attending part-time, online, weekends, etc. and never left my job to do it.

It's all about looking at things with some flexibility....
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Old 01-22-2012, 06:36 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

spk, what state do you live in?
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Old 01-22-2012, 06:41 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Can I afford to get married?

There is someone here who thinks I am cold-hearted. I think this particular person is under the impression that I am already in love with a woman and ready to get married. That's not the case. I'm single. I'm just looking at my past few relationships. I could very well fall in love with a woman and not care whether we will be rich or poor as long as we are together. I did not have that feeling with my past girlfriends. Regardless of money, we just were not right for each other.

Girlfriends of my past wanted to get married, but when they brought thier finances to me, it really grabbed my attention. By this time, there were already several red flags that were scarring me completely irrelevant to finances.

In many cases, the woman had no earning potential, and in one case, a woman's living expenses were three times higher than mine. This woman already had about a dozen or so red flags in our relationship.

When you marry someone, you marry the good and the bad. If that person has huge debt or a high cost of living, that becomes both of your responsibilities. If the wife cannot handle it, it is the husband's job to take care of it.

This can be scary for someone who had to work his entire life to barely make some financial progress. It is more concerning when you have worked hard your entire life and think you might actually be ready to start thinking about buying a house in the forseeable future. If you marry a woman who drains you of your finances and savings, you can say good-bye to that house.

If you love the person, you will not mind giving up the things you want as long as you are with the person. However, I am not currently in a relationship with a possibility of marriage and have not yet met a woman who I would trade everything in the world for. Until that time comes, I will not be ready to marry.

By the way, I do not think 55k is 'measly' despite my original post. I know many people who refer to their outrageously impressive accomplishments and I have always suspected they were exaggerating. Comments in this thread support my belief.
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