7 Ways to Profit Off Your Marriage

There are plenty of financial reasons you shouldn't get married.

You could take on your partner's debt. Your partner's poor spending habits could interfere with your goals. And if your marriage fails, you could be facing a pricey divorce.

But marrying someone solely because of their wealth and financial standing is a bit reminiscent of the Charles Dickens era. That's not to say you shouldn't take money into consideration before saying "I do." It just means you should weigh all the pros and cons — including the financial ones — before you get married.

Here's a look at some of the financial pros of getting married.

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Split the Cost of Living for More Disposable Income

Being able to combine finances is one of the major benefits of marriage. By sharing your money and accounts, you can split everyday expenses to save money on the cost of living.

"Eating for two can be cheaper than eating for one — when it comes to groceries and home cooking," said April Masini, a relationship expert and author. "Same goes for that cable bill, internet bill and rent or mortgage expenses. Most people save on housing expenses when married, in a way they don't when single and living alone. This allows for more disposable income as a married couple than as two singles living separately."

For example, you and your partner can increase your disposable income by getting a family phone plan. "That family phone plan — even for two people — is less expensive than two separate cellphone bills for the exact same people as individuals," said Masini. "And while you probably don't have to be married for this one, if you are married, you're going to save money by combining your phone plans and sharing data packages."

A great way to stretch your dollar further is to divvy up cost of living expenses by percentage. For example, if you make 70 percent of the household income, you should pay 70 percent of the bills. This helps avert an unfair burden if you were to just split the costs 50/50, which doesn't make sense if your partner's income is much lower than yours.

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Pay Less in Taxes

Doing well financially often comes at a high price in the form of heavier taxes. Worse, if you're getting married to a partner who also earns a comfortable salary, you could get hit with the marriage penalty.

The marriage penalty occurs due to the nature of U.S. tax law and tax brackets. And, it typically occurs if you marry someone with an equal income, according to a 2015 report by the Tax Foundation. A marriage bonus, on the other hand, happens when you marry someone who makes significantly more or less than you.

For example, if you and your partner have to pay more tax this year as a married couple than if you were just two single people, that would be considered a marriage penalty, according to the Tax Policy Center. But, if you and your partner pay less in tax as a married couple than if you were both single, that's a marriage bonus. And a marriage bonus means lighter overall taxes for you and your partner.

Up Next: 30 Biggest Tax Problems for Married Couples

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Earn Discounts on Insurance

Just like you can turn taxes to your advantage, you can do the same with insurance.

First, take aim at your car insurance premium, said Masini. "It's often less expensive to combine two good drivers with normal-risk cars on one car insurance policy than it is to pay for two separate policies with the exact same drivers," she said. Plus, data shows that married people are less likely to have car accidents. So, some insurance companies might give discounts for having two cars on the same policy.

But the potential insurance discounts don't end there. Combining other insurance products, such as homeowners insurance, means you could increase your chances of scoring college or professional discounts. Your probability of getting a discount increases because you and your partner bring different colleges, professions and other discounted affiliations to the table, said Masini. These combinations could mean big savings for you.

Another way to save money on insurance is to get more than one product from an insurance company. For example, if you have two cars and a house, consider getting your homeowners insurance through the same company that does your auto insurance.

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Take Advantage of Your Spouse’s Work Perks

You can reap serious financial rewards if you marry someone with excellent work benefits.

"Healthcare can be one of your big expenses if you have a bad health year, an accident or you're dependent on regular medical care for chronic illness," said Masini. "Picking up the opportunity to get free health insurance because your spouse gets it free from work is a great way to profit from marriage."

But there are also more intangible benefits your working partner can introduce. "A spouse can improve your business life and income because you're suddenly invited to those couples' events that seem out of reach, socially, as a single," said Masini. "Networking, raises and new accounts can follow."

Even if your spouse doesn't work at a typical 9-to-5 company, they might open the door to other money-saving benefits come tax time. "A spouse may use a home office, so you can deduct that from your taxes and have the benefit when you sell of owning a bigger home than you'd normally be able to afford," said Masini, adding that other perks from work, like business travel where spouses are invited, can also be a benefit.

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Achieve More Success at Work

If you want to earn more money at work, having a conscientious significant other could help. According to a 2014 study by Washington University in St. Louis, your spouse's personality can have a major impact on your success in the office.

The study's results demonstrated that people who scored highest on metrics — such as job satisfaction, salary raises and the likelihood of a promotion — also tended to have a significant other that scored high for conscientiousness in personality tests. Researchers found this to be true for men and women; it also was true for workers with partners that stay at home or work.

The researchers believe conscientious spouses display good habits, which rub off on their partners who then carry those habits into the workplace. And having a partner that helps keep your personal life running can reduce stress and keep the focus on work during the workday.

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Benefit From a Better Debt-to-Income Ratio

Debt-to-income ratio is a crucial aspect of personal finance, but what does it mean exactly? Your debt-to-income ratio is the total amount of your monthly debt payments divided by your monthly gross income.

So, for example, if your gross income per month is $5,000, but you have a monthly auto loan payment of $150 plus a $2,000 monthly mortgage payment and $350 for another loan, your debt-to-income ratio would be 50 percent: $2,500 of debt divided by $5,000 of gross income.

Why does your debt-to-income ratio matter, and why can marriage improve it? Debt-to-income ratios are key criteria for banks when they consider lending money to you. In mortgage lending, for example, banks have learned that borrowers with high debt-to-income ratios carry a greater risk of not being able to make the monthly payments.

When you marry someone, you're essentially adding another income stream. With two incomes plus little to zero debt between you and your partner, your debt-to-income ratio goes down substantially. Getting a mortgage loan still depends on a variety of other factors as well, such as your credit score. But a better debt-to-income ratio can help you and your spouse afford your dream house.

Earn More Money Back From Extra Tax Deductions

There are many tax advantages for married couples that can help earn you some money back — you just need to look for them. One of the bigger benefits of marriage involves the amount of your standard deduction.

The standard deduction the IRS allows for married couples is exactly twice as high as the deduction for single people: $12,600 for married filing jointly versus $6,300 for single filers. Plus, many couples can deduct a personal exemption for each spouse, which is $4,050 apiece for the tax year 2016.

These doubled deductions are especially beneficial for married couples where one partner doesn't work. The deductions essentially serve as a bonus for couples with one non-employed partner who wouldn't normally file a tax return.

Up Next: 10 Money Lessons for a Successful Marriage

 

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