There are two common ways to marry. You can marry your equal or you can marry rich. In my opinion, marrying your equal is better than marrying rich.
There's just something to be said about starting from nothing and getting wealthy together. It's harder to appreciate sudden wealth, especially if you didn't earn it. Further, it is extremely gratifying to go through struggle and build significant wealth together.
At 45, I'm starting to see more relationships fall apart than begin. But for those that are still lasting, the one constant seems to be that each partner is fairly equal in accomplishment. And that accomplishment isn’t limited to money.
People with similar levels of accomplishment tend to be of similar age, income, education, wealth, and/or experience.
Among the many reasons why people break up, a lack of respect might be reason #1 followed by resentment as a close #2.
Let's say you're more accomplished than your partner. You may start to feel you're losing respect for them if you catch them lounging around too often instead of hustling to get to a top level in something, anything.
If you're the partner who is lounging around, you may start resenting your partner for being so demanding, especially if they are much older than you. Why be so successful if you can't enjoy the benefits? You start rationalizing to yourself.
The physical passion only burns for so long until substance takes over. Over time, it's also easy to take each other for granted.
Marrying Rich Sounds Nice In Theory
As someone who wanted to be rich growing up, I never considered marrying rich. Naively, it never occurred to me that I could marry into a rich family or marry a rich partner to make life easier.
Instead, I just wanted to spend time with an attractive best friend for the rest of my life. There was no strategy on my part.
But if I was clearly told the pros and cons of marrying rich, I may have been less idealistic and more calculated on whom I partnered with.
Instead of locking down an attractive best friend as a life partner, why not lock down a rich and attractive best friend instead! After all, rich people need love too.
Alas, given I'm content with my choice, let me reflect on the good and bad of marrying rich to help those of you who still have a chance or are thinking of splitting.
To get started, check out this fascinating chart below showing the relative likelihood of divorce by income. It looks like the more money you make, the less likely you are to get a divorce.
Pros Of Marrying Rich
1) You leapfrog a generation of struggle.
Tremendous wealth can be created in one lifetime. But building tremendous wealth takes intense work and serendipity. Since we only have one life to live, it's logical to marry rich at a younger age and relax rather than work extremely hard to try and get rich at a later age.
Not only will you be able to live a longer life of luxury, marrying rich could help pull the rest of your family up the socioeconomic ladder as well. Families tend to support each other.
2) You have a greater chance of getting ahead.
For those of you who have the pride and self-motivation to make something of yourself, having a rich spouse opens plenty of doors. Your rich spouse will have more connections to help you along in your career than the average person.
Rich people tend to have more power to make things happen than non-rich people. If your rich spouse or spouse's rich family can't directly help you, they can introduce you to someone who can. The network of the rich is an enormous asset.
3) Only the best lifestyle.
Your rich spouse won't want to lower their standard of living to your level if you are of average wealth. Instead, they will bring you up to their level. See the movie Crazy Rich Asians as a reference.
Instead of slumming it in 2-star hotels off the main strip, you'll be staying at a 5-star hotel right along the ocean. Forget about taking economy class like the rest of us. You'll go first class or maybe even fly private. Your house, food, cars, clothes and leisurely activity will all be of higher quality than what you could have afforded.
Related read: How To Pay For A First Class Airline Ticket Without Feeling Remorse
4) An easier time for your kids.
If you're thoughtful, then you realize one of the best reasons to marry rich is less for you, but more for your future kids.
We all know that in 20 years, college tuition will become even more unaffordable. Wouldn't it be nice to write a $100,000 a year college tuition check without pain? You wouldn't even have to think about contributing to a 529 plan.
If you marry rich, your future kids can take all the after school programs they want. They get to be exposed to every single music, sport, and art activity in order to find their true passion. Instead of reading about the pyramids of Egypt, your family can fly to Cairo and check them out in person.
Further, how great is it to know that even if your kids can't hack it academically, they'll still be able to do anything they want due to a sizable trust fund? If you marry really rich, your family can legally buy your kid's way into a prestigious university.
From an evolutionary perspective, marrying rich helps increase the chances that your bloodline will survive for generations.
5) A way to prove your naysayers wrong.
Somewhere along your life, you will have encountered some doubters. Maybe you weren't a great student and your peers voted you as the person most likely to end up living in mom's basement. Or maybe your unsupportive parents disapproved of your previous relationships or areas of interests.
Whatever the case may be, by marrying rich, you immediately prove all your naysayers wrong. Society looks up to rich people, up to a point. Even though you didn't create your fortune, you're set for life as your naysayers might have to work their whole lives just to achieve a fraction of your new wealth.
Related: The Marriage Penalty Tax Has Been Abolished!
The Cons Of Marrying Rich
Now that we've discussed some of the pros of marrying rich, let's go through some of the cons.
1) You may never feel like you're good enough.
The larger the wealth gap between you and your rich spouse, the larger you might feel like a slave to your spouse's wealth. Given your lifestyle is paid for by your spouse, you've got to hold your tongue about many things for fear of looking spoiled and ungrateful. However, the more you hold your tongue about things that bother you, the more resentment will build.
I've made the case that if a rich person truly loves their spouse, they will make them financially independent as well. This means helping them create their own wealth so they feel just as free.
2) Higher expectations for everything.
Marrying into wealth may mean that you have to hold yourself in a different way. In-laws and friends may raise the bar in which they judge you compared to when you weren't rich.
If you don't look amazing and don't have incredible talents elsewhere (academics, art, music, athletics, etc), then people may think you're just not good enough for your spouse. If you're not fit given your ability to afford the healthiest foods and best trainers, they may think you're lazy.
Further, rich people are expected to publicly donate to as many charities as possible. You'll be constantly hit up for funds even if you don't believe in the cause. If you don't contribute you may be viewed as cheap, even if you have your own projects you care passionately about that aren't public.
One person I know married into a billion dollar fortune. He escaped to the Amalfi Coast for one year with his whole family because he was sick of being pressured to donate and attend all these public functions.
Judgement about how you spend your money is constant when you're rich. One commenter in my post, President Biden Wants To Raise Your Taxes If You Make More Than $400,000, wrote,
If a couple is earning $400K and only giving $3K for charity, I have to wonder why they’re working so hard.
To this commenter, paying six figures in taxes and making money to save for retirement and pay for their children weren't valid reasons for working hard.
3) People may think you're a greedy gold digger.
The more dissimilar you are in age, looks, and academic accomplishment, the more people will think you married for money instead of love. It doesn't matter how much you truly love your partner, suspicions will always be there.
When Amal Alamuddin got married at 38, nobody thought she was a gold digger for marrying 55-year-old George Clooney. The reason is because Amal is an accomplished barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specializing in international law and human rights.
Therefore, if you don't want to be viewed as a greedy gold digger, you must be successful enough to hold your own. If a couple truly loves each other, they'd make each other financially independent, not dependent.
4) The paradox of choice.
The more money you have, the more choices you get to make. The more choices you get to make, the higher the chance you might make a wrong one.
There's something to be said for only being able to afford one humble home. You'll never have to deal with PITA tenants because you can't afford to buy rental properties.
There's something to be said about only being able to buy several types of potato chips. Instead, there are literally 50 different types of potato chips at the supermarket now.
We were all set to send our son to a great language immersion program. We were happy and excited.
Then, an impossible-to-get-into preschool notified us and said they had a spot for us. Then we had to go through the process of evaluating whether to upend our expectations and forfeit the enrollment deposit. Unnecessary stress!
Psychologists David Myers and Robert Lane independently concluded the current abundance of choice often leads to depression and feelings of loneliness.
Americans are paying for increased affluence and freedom with a substantial decrease in the quality and quantity of community. Life may be easier and happier if there's only one way to go.
Related: The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Married Couple
5) You might make your children miserable.
For a moment, let's forget about the higher expectations society places on someone marrying rich. The expectations placed on rich kids could be so great that it could break them.
Imagine growing up as a rich kid where your parents are CEOs, successful entrepreneurs, Nobel-winning scientists, Olympic athletes, and so forth. It is highly unlikely you will ever come close to matching your parents' success.
As a result, you might grow up always feeling not good enough since your baseline is so high. In Confessions Of A Spoiled Rich Kid, Samurai Marco discusses how he bounced around in his 30s and 40s without much direction. He couldn't match his tech entrepreneur father's success, so he became a vagabond.
Besides family pressure, you'll also face tremendous competitive pressure from other rich kids who get into the best schools and get the best jobs. Yet, what if you go to Harvard and end up a nobody?
If you're constantly surrounded by success, you ironically might become the most miserable person in the world.
The Best Case Scenario For Marrying
If you're lucky enough to find someone you truly love who so happens to be rich, then wonderful! This tends to happen among already rich families who send their kids to the same expensive schools. This also tends to happen if you find love working at a high-paying company.
However, for most people, we know this combination of finding a person you love who so happens to be rich is rare.
Instead, the best case scenario may be if you both start off with very little and build your fortune together.
Imagine if you met your sweetheart in high school or college. You'd get to go through all the struggles of trying to get good grades, a respectable internship, and a job that doesn't suck your soul, together.
Then in your 20s, you'd get to experience stabs in the back, micromanagers, layoffs, office politics and all sorts of other terrible things that make relationships stronger. Then if you're lucky, one or both of you will hit your stride, make a lot of money, and freely share your good fortune.
Money becomes less of a stressor when you experience the different stages of personal finance together. Once money is out of the way, you'll have more time to work on strengthening your relationship.
Be Careful Getting Too Rich And Successful
If you want your marriage to last, perhaps it's also best not to get too rich. There may come a point where you have so much money that you don't care if your wealth gets cut in half.
With so much wealth you may not try as hard to be on your best behavior. You might also not try as hard to compromise and make things work with your long-time spouse.
The same thing goes for getting too famous. Your fame might over-inflate your ego as you start thinking everybody loves you when they really just want something you can give them. This adoration may lead you to do questionable things, like hang out with Jeff Epstein on his private jet to go to his private island.
They say getting rich simply magnifies who you really are. However, when you have a lot of temptation due to your fame and vast resources, it may be hard to always do the right thing.
You Just Never Know How Your Marriage Will End Up
Of course we can't always choose our life partners. Sometimes we'll have to marry a resume instead for practical purposes.
We must accept that marrying rich isn't a panacea. If it was, rich and famous people wouldn't get divorced all the time.
Today's examples are Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. There will surely be more examples of rich people getting divorced tomorrow.
The fabulous life gets old after a while. The one enduring trait that makes a relationship last is mutual admiration and respect.
Therefore, if you're able to marry rich, then it's best to continue working on being highly accomplished at something. Not only is being great at something good for your own self-esteem, it's also good for your marriage.
Some things I've noticed about accomplished spouses who marry rich include:
- Still work at a job, which can seem amazing if the family is incredibly wealthy
- Open their own business
- Start and manage a family foundation for giving
- Regularly compete at high-level athletic competitions
- Master a musical instrument and hold concerts
- Hold art shows of their own work
- Be an extremely involved full-time parent who volunteers a lot at school
Finally, let's agree that marriage isn't the ultimate goal, happiness is.
If you're not happy, then by all means get a divorce. The last thing you want to do is look back at a loveless marriage when you could have found happiness with someone else.
Related posts about marriage:
How To Stop Being Taken For Granted By Your Spouse Once You're Rich
How To Convince Your Spouse To Work Longer So You Can Retire Earlier
Financial DEpendence Is The Worst: Why Each Spouse Needs Their Own Bank Account
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140 thoughts on “Marrying Your Equal Is Better Than Marrying Rich”
I married for love, it took me a LONG time to find the right person but it was worth it. I sifted through gold diggers and families that thought I didn’t have anything. I lived simply with rented rooms, older cars and lived like a college student.
My spouse didn’t have much financially but I helped them build their portfolio to a decent 8 figures and counting in the past few years.
I’m in the 10 figures range.
And we still live simply.
Personally, I grew up poor and worked my way up. I’m not wealthy yet, but certainly at least upper middle class. Consequently, I have a lot of mixed feelings on these kind of things, because I’ve seen it from both ends – to an extent. Either way, if you’re getting married I suggest doing it out of love, and when you have mutual respect, goals, and values. If they come with wealth, I’m sure that’s a nice bonus!
In response to the comment about not donating enough – donating your time & money is all well and good, but I understand the desire to put family first. Also, $400,000 is a lot in my area, but its value is considerably lower in larger cities. A household making that much can still have issues based on the cost of living, how many dependents they have, and if there are any extenuating circumstances (like medical issues). Putting everyone who makes above some arbitrary dollar amount into the same category is a bit lazy. Besides, what people do with their money is their own business – if they want to leave it to their family, let them.
Most women nowadays as it is are real gold diggers to begin with, since they just like going with men much older than they really are that have the very big bank accounts. Unlike the old days when most women were very poor and didn’t have much at all , which now they want everything they can get. Very high maintenance women everywhere these days that are also, very greedy, selfish, spoiled, picky, narcissists, and very money hungry more than ever before. That is why it is very hard for many of us single men trying to meet a good woman that will just love us for who we really are, which back in the old days most women were the very complete opposite of today.
Shut up and go back to the olden days if you want to, don’t drag any innocent lady with you
This is often where equality between men and women are overlooked. If a woman is a domestic violence survivor, there is often sympathy for the woman. If the same were to happen to a man and the woman is the abuser, the man will be laughed at or people will not take it as seriously.
People have a negative experience all the time with the opposite sex. It’s about how you deal with the feelings and experience that come with it after and not repeat the cycle. A lot of people will probably need to read books from the Angry Therapist, John Kim, like Single On Purpose or It’s Not Me, It’s You.
Reminds me of the Johnny Depp case.
Love this! I especially enjoyed the part about how “Money becomes less of a stressor when you experience the different stages of personal finance together.” My wife and I met in college and married shortly after graduating and I enjoy the grind of coming together to build our own financial journey and do feel it strengthens our marriage (despite the money arguments).
Happy and stable family life is worth more than any amount of money one could obtain either through work or marriage. Peace of mind, contentment and a partner for life for me is what makes life worth living. Building something together (not only financially) has been incredibly satisfying over the years.
I also love your potato chip analogy. We shop at Aldi alot (not sure they have them in California) and they usually only have one or two options per product vs 50. We love Aldi for the prices, but the simplicity of choice is something we have grown to love. And sometimes simplicity of choice in life can be good too (as long as these are in the right areas)
There is definitely something to be said regarding living a simple life. All my rich friends have very complicated lives. Some have hired house managers to manage all the people that work from them personally.
I can’t wait to give away a bunch of stuff once the Salvation Army opens. I want to declutter and simplify after accumulating too much stuff during the pandemic!
Sam, this post hits the spot. I just worked from 9am to 1am just now and wondered why I didn’t marry rich when I had chances in my 20s. Haha. Instead, I’m dealing with corporate politics, micro managers, toxic work cultures. Is it too late to marry rich in my 30s? :)
Never too late Ceci! :)
As someone in your 30s, you’re still a spring chicken!
And wow… what type of work do you do? That’s a long day! Hope at least you’re making some big bucks.
I work in tech, in a blend of business and somewhat technical role.
I guess I need to spend less time working and more time on baiting a big, rich fish! :)
I enjoyed your comment! The easiest way to land the big fish is by spending more time at the gym and getting ripped. In my experience, wealthy men seem to care about their health and appearance. If you’re serious about your lifts you will be beating them off with a stick- or maybe a barbell- haha! Best of luck.
I think part of the fun is working together to save, invest and build the life you both want regardless of the starting point. I wouldn’t necessarily seek or avoid a partner with a wealthy family, but in either scenario you have a starting point and can work towards building something greater. I hate to admit it – but what would worry me more is a partner with a lot of debt like student loans. I had student loans that I paid off but they weren’t as big as others. I know people from family’s with plenty of money that went to expensive undergraduate school, pursued their masters or law degree, etc. and are drowning in debt.
Interesting. All this is to say… Money plays a HUGE part in a marriage. Whether it causes a happy marriage or a divorce. I think the stat was something like half of all divorces happen cause of money.
What I think is important is not so much how much money someone has, but shared values about money. Having a partner who has similar financial values, savings goals, etc is very beneficial. People who tend to fight about money typically have financial stress obviously, but also differing viewpoints on how money gets spent and saved. Or one person cares about taking care of the couple’s financial health and the other doesn’t.
Aligning as many personal finance interests and values makes a huge difference in marital happiness and longevity. As does mutual respect, some shared interests, and most definitely friendship.
100% agree! I make less than half of what my spouse makes but I’m the one that maxes out my 401k and the kids’ 529 plans. We invest and now file taxes separately because he’s a spender and I’m a saver, which has led to challenges in the past, but after years of friction, I think we’re in a good place. He provides a significantly better lifestyle than I could on my own, and I make enough to save for the things that are important to me. I envy the folks who agree on all of the big things in marriage, but people and marriages are complicated. The thing on here that I disagree with is this quote, “If you’re not happy, then by all means get a divorce. The last thing you want to do is look back at a loveless marriage when you could have found happiness with someone else.” I would just add a caveat that if you’re not happy and have kids, try and then try harder to find a way to become happy, as an individual, a couple and a family. The idea that you can walk away and find happiness in a second relationship when you have shared child(ren) with another person is a bit naïve, but to those who managed to do just that with little casualties, good for you!
I chose a middle class guy over a rich guy simply because he was funnier and was making me happy. Will I regret this decision later on in life when we have a family if we get financial problems? Also since rich guy was also a good man. But whom I chose was better a companion for me. Will it all change in the future when we have problems?
Future may or may not change. Assurance of cannot be given in both the cases.
Marrying someone equal may be risk free.
But in the case where your spouse is of a different status, it is advisable to marry such person only when u are willfully ready to face the odds.
Because in general u have to sacrifice something to get something.
Think, analysis, plan for future financial problem, take advise from a well wisher, take advise from a person who knows all three of u or two of u and then decide.
Once decided, stay strong in the decision. Remember always something will be better than other.
no man in earth can get a better one if he is never going to satisfy with what he has
You have to ask a soothsayer…
Most women nowadays are real Gold Diggers to begin with, since they will only marry for money which makes them real total losers altogether now. Today most women will only want the very best and will never settle for less, now that they have so many very high unrealistic expectations today. And to think how much different women were back in the past when they were the very complete opposite of today, which most women were at that time.
Women were indeed very different – oppressed, having arranged marriages, treated like second hand people. It’s normal for everyone to pursue what they think is best for them and, in this capitalist world, money play a big role.
Then there are many of us single guys that have no wife and family today that we really would have wanted since for us being single and alone is the worst of all. And if women had really been like the past which many of us guys definitely would have been married already, since women in those days were very easy to meet. Today unfortunately most women prefer very rich guys, since they like to be treated like queens which they’re just users and complete losers altogether the way i look at it. That is why love was very real back in the old days, just like our family members had it. Both men and women in those days didn’t have much at all, and had to struggle just to make ends meat as well. Today it is most of the women that have their greed and selfishness everywhere now that have caused this very big mess in the first place, and back then most men and women accepted one another for who they were since that was the way it was in those days. Most women nowadays are very horrible with no manners and personality at all either when it comes to most of us men, and they just have very severe mental problems which a great deal of these women are Bi Polar anyway.
Sorry buddy, this is the dating free market. Not a communist utopia that Jordan Peterson wants where each loser is assigned a wife.
Had a few rough relationships?
Wow The Known Truth, for you to say “most women are gold diggers and losers” tells me what kind of crap mindset you have. Are you married? If so, I hope your wife leaves you. And for the record, I dated 2 different men who were very affluent and I broke things off with both of them when I realized we didn’t mesh well. I could have stayed with either one and never worked again, traveled the world, etc. Instead I ended up marrying a man of my equal (financially) and we have been happily married for 15 years.
Everyone who is happily married is very lucky. I have had many boyfriends of varying economic means.
I always worked and have never made a fortune of money. I rent my own apartment and pay my own bills. Sometimes I find the men around here only want women with great economic means – so they will not be saddled with responsibilities.
You never know which way the tide will turn. I am at a later stage in life now. It would only make sense for me to marry a man of greater economic means than myself. I can just about cover my own ticket.
If he’s up in age and does not have strong economic means, both of us will end up in the poorhouse, probably unhappy.
Financially well off man or no man for me at this point. It’s a myth that only women want wealthy spouses. Men prefer that as well, I find men of modest economic means will not ask me out. I am not a gold digger.
Maybe I’m just not a very good catch, not lovable or simply haven’t found my person yet. Not altogether out of the question seeing as half the people seemed to be divorced who seemed to feel they had found their person.
I remain hopeful and open to all possible eventualities, including remaining single. Not too keen on that, but will be elated if love comes my way.
Everyone sees my comment I want you to see in my words there are very wealthy people and have a lot of opportunities, but there is no person directs this person and there are people in his mind hundreds of ideas I am them that you are wealthy Put a comment and I am serious
I need help actually I fell in love with a girl online and we shared a 2 day relationship but we broke up and became friends after that but this time I again asked about love and she said that she loved me but it all got over and said that she is getting married at a very young age to forget about me and she thinks that I would have never married her though she is extremely rich now should I propose her for marriage or not and I’m not so rich afterall but she is simply mad for me and she even tried to jump off the roof for me but will getting married to her would be a wise decision or should I drop the idea.
Most women nowadays are real gold diggers as it is, since they just love sleeping around with much older men with the very big bank accounts. Real total low life losers those women are to begin with.
I would grow a lot of resentment for my wife if she was a house wife or if she was making less than 40,000 a year. I make 115k a year and my wife makes 60k so I’m quite happy with her and out marriage. But in an ideal would it would be great to be with someone that was more financially equal.
The issue if that you must know what you want in a spouse. I know a few friends that have housewives or wives that make very very little money. One guy is 100% happy because he feels a sense of pride for providing for his family and he love the fact that he holds all the power in the relationship. The other guy just feels a lot of resentment because he is busting his ass every day to finance his own dream of retirement. But his wife is living that dream for him on his dime. I know I would feel like that second guy if I had a wife like that. It don’t not matter how hot she is or how good she is it me.
I never be able to marry someone rich (if that was the only reason I’m doing so). I would always feel inferior to them during the relationship, like I’m not contributing as an equal partner and instead being “carried”. It’s far too risky for me as well. As a woman and “the one who doesn’t make as much”, I would probably have to put my career on hold to raise children or stay at home and if the relationship doesn’t work out… what then?
Besides, I like the idea of building our wealth together… starting from the bottom together. I am enjoying the journey getting there. I’m sure I wouldn’t enjoy it as much or feel accomplished if the glamorous lifestyle just happened to me compliments of my partner.
It is true that marrying into wealth sounds like you hit the jackpot, but it does come with cons! The pros and cons you talk about are all something to consider when you marry someone who is financially richer than you! If you can find someone who is has more money than you but doesn’t cause a stress in your relationship then you are one lucky person! I would definitely categorize that into #relationshipgoals haha! This was such a great article, thanks for sharing!
I’ve seriously dated three women. The first two were obsessed with money. Number 1 wanted to “take care” of and control me with her greater resources. Number 2 was angry that I did not earn more and showed me remarkable disrespect while I was taking care of her financially. The woman I’m dating now (and hope to marry) has a similar economic background and trajectory. I’m working hard to earn more so that I can take care of some of her families’ money issues. She does not expect this. I just want to be able to take some of her worries away from her when they just deal with money.
I’m an avid reader of your blog. I first started reading after a mentor who is also a personal finance enthusiast told me about your blog. I’ve been reading it and putting your advice into practice. Thanks to your advice and philosophy, I’ve been saving more than 50% of my income, maxing out on 401k, Roth, and after tax 401k, investing in multiple investment properties with my parents. I use Personal Capital to monitor my net worth, and I invested in Realty and Prosper. And I work for one of the big tech companies here in the bay area that provides free food, gym membership, and laundry that allowed me to save more money. Basically, I read your articles and simply try to emulate your practices: save aggressively and invest aggressively.
I love this article about marriage and finance. I just recently broken up with my girlfriend, who is white. She has a certain lifestyle which is different from mine: I like to save money, perhaps a little too much. Growing up as an Asian immigrant, finding love and being in the relationship do not come as natural to me as doing well in school and saving money. I wonder what your take is on this. I recently read Aziz’s book Modern Romance and watched his show Master of None. I recently saw some relatives and friends who got divorced and took tremendous financial hit as a result – it’s so sad because they saved and worked so hard all their lives. My Asian parents just want me to get marriage and give them grandchildren. Relationship, love, and marriage have enormous impact on finance – whether is wedding cost, raising a kid, and combining finance. I know this is not a relationship/marriage blog but I wonder What are your thoughts on all these? Would love to see more articles like this one!
Speaking from experiences, your life will be a lot easier if you married / date someone who see finance, raising kids and marriage 80% eye to eye. I am the same age as Sam, married 12 years with a 6 months old son. Our biggest frictions are our views on managing the family finance and the number of kids to have. I am a saver and want at least 1 kid whereas he is a spender and prefers to be childless. However, he did make a huge effort to listen to the wife, along the way screaming and 12 years later thanking the wife for the decent nest egg and giving him a son (his buddy). Lol. Max. out his 401k every year, built 2 years of emergency fund, brought a primary house in expensive Boston, a rental house in CT and his dream lake house in Maine. All of sudden, his parents and siblings are asking him for finanancial advices. Lol
I really hope he still doesn’t prefer to be childless after birthing your 6 month old son! Congrats!
It’s great that you helped him be more financially disciplined. Marriage is definitely all about team work!
Thanks. We compromised, he gets his lake house and I get a kid. Fortunately, he enjoys fatherhood and can’t wait to teach the little guy everything he knows. In fact, he took 1 month of paternity leave and bond with the little guy while I went back to work. Kids do teaches us unconditional love, renew purposes in life, responsibilities, certain fulfillments and look at life challenges differently.
Very good perspective. I got married at 18… we went to college together as newly weds… both of us broke. A few years later we were both working career jobs and saving 40-50% of our combine income. Ten years later we are still saving 40% of our income and we have been investing all of that money into various assets all along the way and always reinvesting the profits. This is how you supercharge wealth building!
How about crossing the cultural, moral, or religious divide? I’ve also heard a lot of people say that you should marry someone who has the same cultural, morals and religion, in order to have a higher “success” rate at long term marriage. This may be true for the average person, but maybe the average person is not like you or me.
As a highly educated, who lived my 20’s as an elitest going to only the most selective educational programs and career environments, I prized finding someone I felt was different enough from me that I didn’t try measure against.
I valued difference not better.
In the end, I married someone from a different culture, with similar morals but different religious beliefs. While it may have been more difficult to get through certain life issues and challenges, it has certainly made me a better person. More tolerant, open minded, able to look at different sides and appreciate why people believe them, even when I don’t.
I guess I believe crossing the financial “class” lines is the same… “If you want an easy marriage, marry yourself. If you want a better half, find someone who makes you better.”
Makes sense to me!
I’ve never heard of someone saying “lived my 20s as an ELITEST..” can you elaborate on that? Are you saying there was a time you only wanted to be with people who were from your socioeconomic background?
While I understand the rationale here, I would have to disagree. When I married my wife, I was making twice as much as her, and this multiple differential has only grown as she quit her job a year after our child was born, while I continued to move up the career ladder. When she recently re-joined the workforce as a teacher, the multiple of my income to hers went up to 10! In all this time, we have managed to live by the rules we set early on, so this has not created any additional friction. We get into a marriage for reasons other than money so we cannot let money define the marriage later when convenient to one partner. Whether your partner makes similar income or not, they are your equal and should be treated as such. Our rules that work are here in case you are interested: tenfactorialrocks.com/rules-that-work/
Well it’s b/c she gave you something greater than any money can ever buy, and that’s a child. And the job of a mother is the most important job any person can ever have.
So as far as I’m concerned, you’ve got to catch up!
No Sam, That doesn’t make up for the premise of the article. Whether a Mrs. gives a child or not (in my case, it was her choice to be a SAHM), your partner should be treated as your equal. Income similarity as a criterion between partners can cheapen the marriage to a commercial equation. Focusing on it reinforces money/earning power as the defining parameter in the relationship. It is helpful to have money rules within a marriage to keep the relationship smooth, but these rules should apply to both partners regardless of how much one earns. That’s an important point I cover in my article.
Since money is the number one reason why couples split, marrying your equal does seems like the way to go. If both are independent and have similar earning potential, the relationship is more balanced. Also helps if they are both aligned in terms of financial goals. It’s insanely difficult to row a boat if two people are rowing in opposite directions.
I agree. It’s so much easier when both are on board as far financial goals. The saying that “opposites attract” doesn’t apply forever in a relationship. I’m lucky that I didn’t marry a spender. It made selling the FIRE goal so much easier.
I’m fortunate that I’ve found someone to marry (on the second try) equal to me. We share the same goals and passion for similar things in life. We love the simple moments and cherish family, friends and our time. As a plus we almost had the same net worth prior to marriage. It feels to great to be at the same level and be able to enjoy milestones with the same intensity. Best of all, she enjoys all of my jokes and sense of humor. This might sound cliché but I truly married my best friend.
I met my wife in college and we build our lives from zero. I think that’s the best way to go. We have so much shared history that our relationship is strong. She is better in a lot of things, but I’m better than her with a few things too. We compliment each other well. Hopefully, we don’t change too much over the next 40 years.
Marrying rich sounds nice, but I don’t know… I probably feel inferior if my wife’s family is much richer than mine.
We met in college as well, started with ZERO and have built a great life 2 kids, though college on us (grad school on them). We’re both engineers, I took the management track, she’s a high school math teacher (and a good one!). We share everything, and are tracking to exit the RACE in about 3 yrs. We both came from middle class families, grew up in South Florida. I can not imagine a different life. Perhaps the only thing we’d have done differently is start saving a little earlier! I have told my 2 kids that one of the most important decisions you will make if your life is who you marry or spend the rest of your life with!
I guess I got lucky. I married rich and beautiful. I work hard and have asked her family for nothing. We live upper middle class and the gifts from her parents provided a cushion enough for me to feel confident in negotiating better paying jobs.
My wife doesnt work at all and stays home with the kids. Its not a bad life. Her family helps us when we make major purchases but we are not living large by any means. I dont feel any of the pressure you mentioned earlier. Not to say there isnt expectations but I just dont let it bother me.
Congrats! Do you not feel more pressure the more gifts you accept from her parents? What do you think the dollar amount of those gifts have amounted to so far?
I know a lot of guys, perhaps just due to pride, will refuse large gifts from the in-laws because they want to be seen as the sole providers.
No pressure because they have given the same or more to their other kids. I understand the pride thing, but I grew up poor and was always behind. I worked all through high school and college and had to borrow to pay for college.
If someone wants to give me a boost I’ll gladly accept! I just dont see a problem with parents wanting to help their kids and spouses out. Hopefully I will do the same for my kids.
What they did for all their kids is bought a house and car. I would guess that their gifts to us have been about 500k, not much for them but helped us tremendously. I dont sense in them that it comes with strings or an attitude of disdain toward me as a provider. They did this for all their kids plus more in some cases.
Of course the understanding is that we will stay married but our shared religious convictions also expect as much.
Wow, $500,000 is a sweet gift! I’m envious, but also not surprised if you’ve read my post, “A Massive Generational Wealth Transfer Is Why Everything Will Be OK“.
It’s interesting you say that you don’t feel bad because all her siblings got the same benefits. It is good your in-laws are giving now to help while they are living. Otherwise, what’s the point after they are dead? Definitely no satisfaction that way!
Related: No Wonder Why Millennials Don’t Give A Damn About Money
My wife is smarter, has a better personality, is better looking, and has more energy. She is more well-liked by our friends. I happened to get more education than her and get involved in a high-paying industry. So I kind of feel bad for her that she is stuck with me but figure she sees me in a similar light as I see her (I hope!) I am extremely lucky and figure that I am wealthy due to this relationship rather than my net worth. Sam – your window never passes!
Don’t hope, make sure of it! Time to up the game I say.
My window has already passed because I found my one a long time ago :)
It sounds cliche but I want my children to be happy and love with whoever they marry. I know that money is one of the number one stresses in a marriage. So while it would be nice if they were both financially set before they got married and were equals I’m not going to hold my breath.
For my wife and I think the most important thing that we did is going through pre-marital class on money before we got married. This allowed us to have frank discussions on what we actually valued and where we saw our careers. While I know that things can change this allowed us to have a vision of expectations and allowed us to work towards something together.
The “attractive best friend” bit really struck out at me. I’ve never heard anyone who says they want to marry their best friend add a qualifier next to that phrase. Huh.
Glad you learned something new then Tara! The difference between a best friend and a spouse/partner is physical intimacy.
As a married person for the past two years, I’ll keep that in mind!
Interesting article. I thought I married “up”. She wasn’t rich, but she was beautiful, and we had so many things in common. We struggled through school and the first (very poor) years together until our careers took off. we were immensely happy for a very long time, had two sons, had a great time. Then, after maybe 25 years she started spending way too much on almost everything. I would talk to her about it, we struggled to pay it off, but the behavior continued. Then one day she confessed to an affair with a client who was quite well-off. Now she’s gone (happily), I have my emotional and financial life back together, and I’m married to a wonderful lady who understands life balance and all the fun it brings. We’ll be retiring together.
Hi Jeff, sorry about your first wife, but AWESOME you found another soulmate 25+ years later! That’s pretty rare no?
Great stuff. I hope you write an article about the spouses’ family some day! I outearn my husband nearly double, but he’s no slouch professionally or personally. Both of us have worked our asses off and carefully planned to get where we are. The issue is his aging parents – they lost all their money some time ago, and have been begging from him the past 15 years (even taking from his student loans). He has a soft heart and doesn’t want to see them suffer, but the money diverted to them could be going to savings or investments or future children. Having to alter our careful plans and work even harder to include supporting deadbeat family members is hard to swallow.
Hi Doris, do you not like your in-laws? How did they lose everything 15 years ago? Hard to punish people for a loss since they already lost.
I’m sure to talk A LOT about family finances in 2017 and beyond. Not to worry!
My in-laws are not wealthy, but it makes me VERY HAPPY to help them financially. An extra $5,000 doesn’t help me live any better, but it does for them due to credit card debt, etc. But I’m not allowed to give much.
Looking forward to 2017!
What do you mean by you’re not allowed to give much?
My in-laws bet the farm on a business venture and lost, and have made some subsequent poor decisions. Since then my FIL refuses to work and spends his time inventing the next great thing, while my MIL works two jobs to try and make ends meet. My FIL is constantly asking my husband to “lend” him money for his new business idea or fancy equipment he ‘needs’, and will emotionally bully him when he refuses. My MIL is much more fiscally sensible but her husband won’t let her have any separate accounts. I think I would resent it less if there were concrete goals (like paying down debt or an investment property) instead of throwing money down a hole.
I mean, whenever I try to give more, I’m asked not to.
At least your in-laws are not trying to scam you guys. Can’t fault the FIL for trying and taking risks!
It’s easy to contemplate about having riches you don’t have to work for. But the reality is that all people have problems. I really believe marriage is about finding the right person–money is a secondary consideration.
My wife and I come from similar middle class background, we look at everything from a “we” perspective and don’t keep score against each other. Our finances are 100% shared and I like building our future/finances together vs the idea of marrying into it. I feel like it would steal part of your identity regardless if the perceptions are true or not.
How about just don’t get married at all. Just live together and have children as long as you can find a woman who’ll agree with this arrangement.
Most people divorce due to betrayal and growing apart. People grow apart regardless of whether they were equal or not in ambition and accomplishment. Betrayal occurs, because most men, but particularly ambitious men, even if they truly love their wife, are never happy with just being with one woman. Men are biologically hard wired to have a wandering eye and look for something new. Many girlfriends and wives who understand this will actually be happier. I know many so called “family men” who completely stray once they’re on their own during business trips compared to women who’ll cheat on their spouses.
I’m biologically wired to laze around and eat a lot.
People should just understand that and they’ll be happier when I disappoint their expectations or take things without paying.
Yes, I’m fine with not getting married, especially if there is a marriage tax penalty involved.
I know many friends who are 40+ and unmarried b/c they know they can’t commit. They are well to do and have a lot of options.
A rise in options has ironically made people lonelier and less happy over the years.
Just as many women cheat on their spouses, but you don’t know about it because we’re good at keeping secrets.
I believe this 100%.
I do believe women cheat way more often than men think, but I don’t believe it’s anywhere near the rate as men. Women maybe good at keeping secrets, but men tend to brag about any women they bed, so your secrets aren’t as safe as you think. I’ll believe both genders cheat at the same rate when I see human trafficking of men and red light districts of consisting of male prostitutes reach equivalent levels as women.
I would like to point out that marriage has been transformed from a promise between a man and a woman. Now it is more akin to signing up for a mortgage. Both are just as profitable to get out from under after a few years!
Another great article!! As a male I recently married (2 years) a women who has significantly higher net worth then I did. We both have good paying jobs and our income is almost equal, but due to an inheritance and the death of her first spouse she has a much higher net worth. This has never been a issue in our relationship because I agreed to a pre-nup, and we have had a ton of open and honest conversations about money. It probably also helps that my net worth is above average for my age, and I don’t need her money to retire. On the question of how to stop the constant barrage of requests for donations my wife and I have told no one our net worth, and try to hide our financial situation as much as possible.
Hiding your wealth and not posting on social media about your $4.6 million ring like Kim Kardashian will lower the risk of people asking you for donations and potential robbery for sure.
Be rich, act poor!
Related: Practice Stealth Wealth To Live A Happier Life
Good businessman tends to be a good decision maker, and a rational one. I will worry about the people who in marriage only look for looks/youthfulness and their finance 10 years down the road.
Investment on a depreciating asset in one of the most important life choices sounds like a terrible move and a disaster waiting to happen. All the ladies who are looking to marry into rich without much selling point, if I were you, I’d be concerned about the guy’s decision making ability and stay as far away as possible from people who are not level-headed, lol.
For any man or women who is self-made through being intelligent, hardworking, and disciplinary, I have a hard time imagining s/he will take the decision of marriage so lightly and marry someone who is not a good match, in skill sets, capability or achievements.
A good businessman, or really a good decision maker who are in control of their own finance and life, tend to be very rational in all aspects of life; a bad one even if they are rich at the moment, not so much. I will worry about those who only look for the looks/youthfulness and their finance 10 years down the road. An awful investment choice on a depreciating asset IMO.
“The fabulous life gets old after a while. The one enduring trait that makes a relationship last is mutual admiration and respect.” – Nice line and very insightful. Mutual admiration and respect is really the secret of a successful marriage. And you can respect and admire someone’s effort and hard work on their path to success, so it’s more about their journey than the destination. You admire the person working hard to become rich, rather than someone who got money handed to him or who won the lottery.
An interesting conversation, certainly. I can make a guess, but I wonder what the wealth profile looks like of those “marry rich” couples after a divorce. Not the mega rich, but someone making $180,000 a year in an average city with average cost of living.
Alas, I was not in the best case scenario — although I’m not married yet, haven’t dropped the ball and chain on the foot yet! — I do sometimes wonder about what life would be like had I married/dated up. It’s tough on a single income in this world.
The most important thing about marriage and money is that both parties are compatible in their beliefs and behaviors. If one wants to earn all the money and the other wants to spend it all, and they’re both happy with it – great!
If they both are equal and want early retirement – great also.
The problems come when you have unstated expectations about your partner, and you then get upset when they don’t live up to your expectations.
This is why having the money conversation is the most important step in getting married without going broke (whether wallet broke or heart broke…)
I also believe compatibility in beliefs and behaviours can make a marriage but then I’m not married and don’t know if it is true.
I think you are right Sam, marrying someone from a similar financial background and situation is a big plus. My wife and I are both engineers raised by immigrant families from different countries and met at our Fortune 50 employer.
Plus, she’s hot, so that helps! ;)
Having the right financial mindset with your spouse is so important. One thing I struggled with growing up was my high school girlfriend came from a much wealthier family. And I always felt inadequate – which just fueled me to work much harder at school & work!
Thank you for writing this article and all the others you have written. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with this article in total because divorce is a much more complex topic than just the numbers, resentment, not feeling good enough, and the other items you mentioned. Yes, it is true the earlier you marry and share similar struggles helps keep the marriage going. However, I think the biggest challenges to marriage are the station WIIFM and low self esteem. For those that don’t know, WIIFM is “Whats In It For Me”. Now, people forget the commitments they made, they don’t understand the what it means to get married, and our society does not lift a single finger to help make relationships work (I’m exaggerating here. there are exceptions). Every relationship fails when people do not think about the other person and how to fulfill their needs. When you have two people who are more concerned about the other persons needs over themselves, that is when marriages flourish. And people just don’t get it.
To my second point. We are in a society with people who have low self esteem and they do nothing to correct it. They are in denial that they have it a lot of the time. I’m in a marriage now where we both have low self esteem issues. The only thing that sucks is my wife won’t acknowledge it and won’t go work on it. Suffice it to say, I’m working to correct it.it takes time and I’m committed to making it work. The low self esteem issues will hinder the relationship when one person is feeling the way you described above wth not feeling good enough or people have expectations of you. Things like that go away when you have high self esteem. You are able to include people in your life with different beliefs.. you are able to communicate what you are doing with your money without the need to explain that you are not being greedy., you are saving for the most important people in your life.. your children.. or you are going to donate when you die and not until then. Or whatever the case may be.
Now, if you have people in your relationship that are judging you based on looks or anything like that, I argue you haven’t made enough of an impact in someone’s life that makes them see you are a great catch. I’m not saying go out of your way to do Thalia. I’m saying, as you live your life, be the type of person you were meant to be that looks to improve the lives of people around you as you see fit. If there is a rotten apple in the bunch, don’t let it spoil all the other apples in your day. Move on. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Id love to have a discussion about this in more detail. But I have a job to go do. Hope this helps.
Thanks for sharing Dan. Are there ways you can go out of your way to help BOOST her self-esteem? Perhaps remind her how lovely she is, tell her how proud you are of her work, her family, or optimism, or any other wonderful traits she might have?
Sometimes, a woman just want to hear nice words of encourage to feel secure about herself and her relationship.
My wife and I are both professionals but I have the better pedigree, both in terms of schools and career. Earlier in our careers, I earned 250k and my wife earned 70k (less than a third of my income). Now, a few years later, my income has climbed a little to about 310k and my wife earns much more at about 150k (still about half my current income). I have read that earning twice as much as your spouse makes you unequals but I have also read that dissapaits after a certain income level. I have friends at work who are married to peers and earn a combined 620k rather than my more modest 460k and can, therefore, afford a nicer lifestyle. I think my wife will continue to earn more but will probably never earn as much as me, especially if my income continues to increase, and I resent that a little because I see what I could have if she earned more and that is important to me. What are your thoughts?
What is it exactly that you can’t afford with an annual income of $460,000? You “kind of resent” your wife for not keeping you in the race for over $600,000. Seriously?
There is a big difference between 460k and 600k or more and she only started making more recently (in a market like LA or NY, 460k is middle class at best). The gap was even wider before. Does our pay gap qualify as being unequals?
$460k does not make you middle class…yes, I understand parts of America are very expensive. My wife and I make $220k/year in San Francisco and we’re comfortable.
Like Barb said, if you “kind of resent” your wife and yet she has increased her salary from $70k to $150k, you probably have a bigger issue.
SF is about 2x as expensive as America. Median HH income is 55k. Double for inflation and you get to $110k. At $460k, you are at the very least upper middle class and realistically lower upper class in SF.
I definitely don’t feel like I am upper class. I live in a nondescript house, drive economy cars and eat home most nights. I have been hard at work for 10 years and been frugal all along the way and my net worth has slowly climbed to $1.6 mm, which is nothing crazy (about 90% of which is home equity and retirement savings). I hardly think this makes me rich, especially given what I have read on this blog. It was a long road.
Rightly or wrongly, typically your class (lower class, middle class, upper class and all of the variations inbetween) refers to your income, not your wealth (rich, poor, etc). How old are you? At $1.6 million in net worth, if you are under 35, you are in the top 1% of net worth in the US (and that includes inherited wealth). If 35-39, you’d be in the top 3% of net worth’s and top 5% between 40-49, so its safe to say to the average American you would indeed be rich – or at least fairly close to it – especially when combined with a top 1% annual income (and top 5% HH income in San Fran). (Also consider $1.6 million net worth without ever contributing another penny will be worth over $10 million in 30 years at 7% market returns)
Buddy… you are Upper Class. I don’t care where in the world you are at, you make more money annually than 98% of the country…. At 460k, even in SF, you are still living an extremely comfortable life. I assume your early 30s, and if your “only” 1.6 mm net worth your in the upper echelons in your age group.
This appears to be a reoccuring trend on this blog (which I enjoy reading for some of the more common sense advise). That most people here would be considered ULTRA wealthy to most of the US population. But don’t realize how fortunate they are, or how condescending they sound… Probably not how people wanted to come across, but that’s how this midwest middle class family man hears it.
Instead of resenting her for “only making $150,000” why do you try and make $160,000 more to match your fabulous friends making $620,000 combined? Do you have this upside? Or do you fear you will then resent your wife even more?
An alternative is to just make less. Go from $310,000 to $200,000 and enjoy life more b/c of more free time. I cut my income down by 80% in 2012 and felt happier due to more freedom. Once the basics are met, what else do you really need?
It’s amazing how far astray my post has gotten from my initial intent, which was to see if folks thought I fit FS’s example of a “couple of unequals” or if, because we both earn a decent income, there was a diminishing marginal effect as both incomes rise. I never got an answer on that point.
To redlbj01’s point, yes, we are both 33 and it’s important to understand that this is a personal finance blog. By definition, people who are like minded and care about personal finance issues, namely growing their net worth, are going to be the types of people who read this blog (and, to an even larger extent, comment on the posts). I believe FS wrote a post a while back explaining the difference between absolute wealth and comparative wealth, which is an important distinction. In my part of the country, friends who didn’t study very hard or go to the best colleges (e.g., people who got jobs in IT, nursing, retail banking, relationship management, lower level sales jobs, etc.) are all earning between $130,000 to $200,000. Most of these folks married their equals and both continue to work after having a child. Therefore, they have household incomes of $260,000 to $400,000. This is also sort of necessary because a decent house is over $1 mm. The more ambitious, intelligent and motivated among us became investment bankers, lawyers, doctors, hedge fund professionals, etc. and, at this stage of our careers, earn $300,000 to $600,000, so the dual income couples who are equals earn $600,000 to $1.2 mm per household. A smaller minority of couples, like me, combine a higher income earner and more modest income earner, resulting in an income somewhere in the middle. I had a conversation with someone yesterday that I will share to drive the point home. She is 31 years old, went to a mediocre state university and has worked 9-5 her whole career and has kind of just gone through the motions at her company without any sort of notable accomplishment and she earns $200,000 per year. She scoffed at someone she was telling me about who married one of her husband’s friends because she earns $130,000 per year in her late 30s. She couldn’t understand how someone could earn so little as a professional after so many years in the workforce. It’s tough when you straddle two worlds, I guess.
To FS’s point, there is no way or need for me to lower my income, especially not in a way that would improve my quality of life. My wife and I both have a good work/life balance and don’t work long hours or have much stress at work. Our lives are pretty good in that regard. I have read the posts on average net worths for above average person but I feel like it’s important to look at these issues more regionally than using such large sample sizes. As we all look at retirement and other financial goals and what it will cost us to live the types of lifestyles we envision as we get older, I think it’s more appropriate to look at the numbers for folks in similar professional and geographical areas. I have a net worth of $1.6 mm, about 45% of which is in home equity and another 45% in retirement savings, with the balance in cash and a personal brokerage account. Given my thoughts of thinking about these issues against my cohort, I don’t know exactly where this puts me. I tend to think that, given I live in a high cost part of the country and around mostly professional people, I don’t think I am exactly killing it.
Also, I wanted to post a separate reply under redlbj01’s post but there wasn’t a button, so here goes: I do not feel like I am “upper class” or “ultra wealthy” as you described me and the other folks who read FS. I am sensitive to the fact that a guy who earns $50,000-$75,000 per year and is trying to support a family may find some of the posts on this blog (including mine) offensive or delusional but that person made different choices and probably isn’t reading this site anyway. You said yourself that you live in the midwest. You can probably buy a home in Ohio or Wisconsin for $200,000. That is not possible by me. Plus, real estate taxes are very high, along with many other costs. I think $300-400K per household puts you squarely in the middle in my part of the country.
Trying to Get ahead –
After reading your posts I feel compelled to offer some advice. You are clearly unhappy. Definitely talk it out with your spouse. You don’t want this to turn into something bigger than it already is, and potentially ruin a family. As for not feeling like you are ahead I can definitely see that living in LA. I have traveled there quite extensively for work, and I can’t imagine living there despite wanting to when I was a fresh grad. Granted I come from the Midwest. Ask yourself why you live there? Is it for the job? For kids? For the location and weather? For the culture?
Once you figure that out you might be able to find other answers. If it were me I’d sell the second house, the main house, and everything else and move to another awesome location at a fraction of your current cost. There are tons of great places to live. You could literally walk away from work for the rest of your life at your current net worth if you learn to control spending. Unless you feel the need to live an opulent lifestyle then yes you’ll be forever chained. Unchain yourself from the expectations you need to live a certain life, and more importantly the expectations of others that mean absolutely nothing! In LA that’s much harder to escape.
If you need to make a lot of money to buy all the things you want then this will be tougher. But you could seriously move somewhere cheaper, and with the excess funds live off the passive income. You might even be able to invest in your own business or pursue other adventures you never thought possible. Run some numbers and see what’s feasible. But most importantly FOCUS ON WHAT TRULY MAKES YOU HAPPY. By doing that you might even find less money goes further than you could imagine.
How would you feel about some geo-arbitrage for your retirement? Coming from a pinnacle of expensive areas you can seriously cash out by moving North or East.
(Many of my older peers in California law enforcement are flocking to Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming and purchasing mansions once their middle class California money turns into FU money elsewhere.)
One cannot deny how you feel. It is the truth.
What are some of the things you could have if you guys made $160,000 more together? List them out! I think it would help.
I believe that if you make more and the spread widens, your little resentment towards her will grow, especially if you start having to work longer hours. Hence, it’s best to have a conversation about your feelings. So long as one partner is doing their very best, that’s all you can ask.
But back to my thesis of marrying an equal… it’s better, but income is only ONE variable of determining relative equality.
Related: Scraping By On $500,000 A Year
Financial Samurai, I know it’s more important what I think I would do with the extra money given that we are talking about my life, but what do you think people do with the extra money? For me, it’s probably mainly the accelerator of hitting certain targets and financial independence earlier. I also carry some mortgage debt that I wouldn’t mind paying down if I had an extra $160,000 per year laying around (or $110,000 after taxes). I have also learned that my priorities have evolved over time so, in a way, I am saving for the unknown wants of my future self. For example, I recently bought a second home that obviously required money and I wouldn’t have anticipated this a few years ago. Who knows what my future holds? I appreciate that you get where I am coming from though. I just don’t feel like I live an opulent lifestyle and I don’t have tons of money laying around. If this is “upper class,” I feel for people readers like Rob and redlbj01 above think are average.
If spouses thought what can I do for my partner? rather than what your partner can do for you, IMO the divorce rate would be far lower, and marriage satisfaction would be far greater.
This might sound harsh, but I will ask you anyway: if your wife would have an accident tomorrow and find herself incapacitated for life and thus would not be able to earn anything, what exactly would you do?
Would you see her as a rock dragging you to the bottom?
Would you leave her?
Because if the answer is yes, then that says a lot about the state of your marriage.
Now reverse the question. If you would lose your ability to make money tomorrow, due to misfortune, would you consider your wife entitled to drop you like a hot potato? Should she spend her life working for both of you or should she cut her losses and try again?
No, don’t take into account accident coverage, if you have any. Should your wife value you purely for your earnings? If not, why?
Part of the mariage vows are “For better or for worse, for richer of for poorer”. Those words are not there by mistake, they are the bedrock of a marriage contract.
You should keep in mind your “standards” are defined by the people you hang with. When you pull into a parking lot in a Cadillac, but all the other cars are Bentleys, it kind of takes the fun out of driving the Cadillac and is a whole different feeling than driving the Cadillac into a lot full of economy cars. One of my best friends earns about my salary as does his wife. Their ability to purchase and do things outstrips ours significantly. When I hang with him, I do feel similar envy as you describe, they are able to do things I wish I could do or have things I wish I could have. For example I tell him I got a “used” beater car for one of my kids for high school, he buys his kid a new, top of the line, SUV. I mention we are going to be saving for 18 months to afford a cruise to celebrate a special wedding anniversary, he says that’s a great idea, and the next week he and his wife are booked for a cruise in three months for their anniversary. He is my friend, and I wish and want him to do well, but sometimes I’m stabbed to the hilt with the dagger of envy. But that is MY problem, not his, not my wife’s, not my kids, but MINE.
I don’t feel this envy when I’m with coworkers who have less than me, or friends and family who aren’t as financially well off. No, I feel this when I think about those who have more who I routinely interact with, like you do with your better earning worker pals who mock your wife’s comparatively meager pay. This is the KEEPING UP WITH JONES’ effect, and you have to recognize it and fight it because like believing the grass is always greener, you feel things would only be “better” if something were different, but that leads to resentment and that poisons the things you do have because you look at your Cadillac and instead of being happy with it you’re mad it isn’t a Bentley. But we aren’t even talking about cars, we’re talking about your spouse. As written, it seems you are embarrassed that your spouse isn’t earning what you think she should, that it is her fault you can’t have a “Bentley” life and are stuck with the “Cadillac” life.
I know, from personal experience, it can be easier said than done, but you really need to stop the comparison to others or dreaming of unrealistic goals while thinking “if only she…” and start enjoying what you do have and what the two of you can create. Obviously keep on moving forward, just enjoy what you have as well. Best wishes.
Well said. Couldn’t agree more.
Related: How To Live Like The 1% Without Being In The 1%
But what about marrying into a rich family?? In that scenario, the spouse wouldn’t necessarily be rich, but the family would be. Would love to see pros and cons for that scenario.
By extension, you and your spouse will be rich. A rich family, but underachieving spouse I think is a DANGEROUS situation to be in. The spouse from the rich family will have all these insecurities to try and prove him or herself that they can make it on their own.
Being able to never live up to your parents is a terrible way to live. Know any rich kids that didn’t turn out quite well? Hmmm.
I am engaged to a man who makes 2-3x’s my 140k income.
If anything murders our relationship, I believe it will our differential views in the value of money. I save, he doesn’t. He spends, I don’t. I love the simple and clean life, he brings home unnecessary burden by way of clutter. I come from a middle class family, he comes from a family with millions of dollars. I cannot understand his wasteful conduct and he cannot understand why I cannot live a little.
I think I just lost some of my optimism writing all of that out.
I’d say…run….you don’t sound happy already….
To me this is world view differences and experiences and expectations. If, and this could be a big if, but if his family has a trust and he doesn’t have to worry about his future earnings then he doesn’t need to save for retirement. If his connections and family are such that the chances of his being unemployed for any real period of time is next to nil, then what does he need an emergency fund for? I also had a friend who felt money was the most easily renewable resource, and he was never without a job or lack of funds unless he chose to be, and he’d work 80 hour weeks starting a business up, get bored once it was successful, sell it, and start something else and make it work. Some people don’t worry about the future and the present because they’ve been assured it’s taken care of for them and it likely has. Some people simply don’t feel a need to worry about the future and live very much in the present and will spend their lives like the future will never be bad or hit them over the head. You likely need to really determine which one it is for this guy, because if it’s the latter, you will have an ulcer being with this guy, if the former, it’s just a matter of perspective.
I’m not married, but all my b/friends have been wealthy businessmen by accident (I’m serious). They seek me out and I usually fall for them, even in a t-shirt and jeans :). That being said, I’m a bit stuffy when it comes to class (raised that way, unfortunately), and I think that it’s important to have someone (if you are so inclined) who can understand that. One of my friends told me a while ago that there is something about me that alludes to wealth (like I was born into it) and she couldn’t put her finger on it, so….
I also think (devil’s advocate here) it’s important, if you are marrying into wealth or dating someone who has a successful business, to be supportive of your partner. Too many times, I’ve seen the mistake of people who make the other person feel guilty because they have wealth or have a successful business. A partner will benefit from the perks of the other person having wealth(travel, splurges, etc), and then make them feel guilty about having so much money or not doing things themselves (this is a huge thing with a lot of wealthy businessmen; they typically just pay other people to do things for them, and are used to not thinking about it). Support is really important. Just because someone is successful one day and has built a business or wealth in their lifetime doesn’t mean it will last. If you really love each other, you will stick it out through thick and thin.
Honestly, I wouldn’t want my kids to marry someone who was very poor, but more importantly, I’d want them to marry someone who had a lot of ambition, because even if they were poor, ambition would mean they probably wouldn’t stay very poor.
Interesting! If you were raised wealthy, what are your thoughts on building your own wealth? Is there potentially less of a motivation?
Ambition is key, which is why folks who retire extremely early and live frugally may have a harder time locking down a partner. Or maybe not!
As a newlywed I’ve thought a lot about what will set up my marriage for success. It is definitely important to keep evolving the relationship as the people in it will not be holding constant for decades (goals, struggles, etc).
The starting point is important though. My wife’s family is extremely similar to mine, but I have seen some friends with extremely different families (including wealth, but also religion).
Congrats on getting married! What does she do and how did you convince her that you were down with not working at such a young age? I don’t think anybody would have married me in my 20s if I wasn’t working full-time.
I would like to add one caveat to your theory. One of the leading causes of divorce is financial stress and disagreements. While I don’t believe marrying rich is a good idea as a reason for marriage, one does have to look at your mates position on finances to ensure compatibility. Both parties don’t have to be ultra frugal, but being someone who spends every dime with someone who is extremely frugal could be a drive for marital strife. The reality is the number one destroyer of personal wealth is divorce. As such ensuring you’re a good fit is much more important to your long term success.
Men and women are hardwired to look for different things in a mate.
Men marry for beauty, youth, and fertility. A woman who values college credentials and career is not nearly as valuable to a man as a beautiful woman who keeps herself in good shape and has a sweet disposition.
Women marry for money, power, and status. A man’s looks do not matter nearly as much as his status and confidence.
Ideally, a successful man should marry a beautiful woman of good character who is much poorer than he is.
Kind of agree with this, but maybe not the part about finding a woman who is “much poorer”, as that implies that the wealthier partner might be trying to use money to control the other partner, and that doesn’t sound very loving.
I’ve been in both kinds of relationships – first with someone who was a lot of fun but not an equal in income/education, or more importantly, work ethic and morality/values, and the resentment grew so much that I couldn’t take it anymore, and second with someone older, smarter and wealthier, and the relationship, though not perfect, is exponentially better. I think as long as you’re secure in who you are and what you have to offer, it’s good to feel like you “married up” – and it’s okay if that means something different to George Clooney than it does to Amal Alamuddin.
As I woman, I don’t “marry for money, power, and status.” I’d rather you not purport to speak on my behalf. Thanks.
There are exceptions of course (you for one) but exceptions prove the rule. There have been plenty of studies (not to mention most people have an insane amount of anecdotes) that show it is a true statement. There are around 4 billion women in the world. If 10% didn’t go for that at all, that’d still be 400 million women that didn’t (but 3.6 billion that did).
“The women, who were aged between 21 to 40, picked the man sitting in the Bentley ahead of the same man in the Ford. Dr Michael Dunn, of the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff, said it shows women rate a man higher if he is behind the wheels of a “fancy motor rather than in an old banger”. His research, in the latest edition of the British Journal of Psychology, also shows that men are more interested in a women’s looks not her motor.”
“Dr Dunn said his findings confirmed that women judge a man by his wealth and status whereas men are primarily concerned with what a woman looks like. There’s a wide variety of evidence that does suggest that females are more influenced by wealth and status. Females focus on questions of wealth and status because if the male possesses those, that male would be in a better condition to rear healthy offspring.”
But back to my earlier point, how many “exceptions” does it take to prove that it’s not a rule anymore? Here’s the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that in 2014, 37.1% of wives earned more than their husbands: . (In my earlier comment I had read another article that said 38%, which was true in 2012 and 2013.)
I think there’s a lot of stuff that people do because society has reinforced what they are “supposed to do.” I think it’s harmful and it’s not even very accurate anymore in terms of what real life shakes out to be. Maybe a woman is initially attracted to a pretty car. Or maybe she’s just thinking “finally, a guy who’s got his shit together instead of some 30-year-old former frat boy sharing an apartment with four of his friends.” That’s not necessarily money-motivated. A lot of times it’s just looking for a grownup rather than someone who thinks not showering for four days at a time is cool, and the only funny things in life are fart jokes. In any event, when it comes down to who she marries, I bet it’s got WAY less to do with the car and more to do with who the guy is.
Just to clarify that BLS earnings spreadsheet. That 37.1% is not the % of wives that earn more than their husbands. It’s the % of wives that WORK that earn more than their husbands. When you add in the other 10 million married couples where the wife doesn’t work at all, that # drops to 22.5%. Considering men have higher standard deviation of IQ (meaning there end up being a lot more really low IQ men compared to women) and men having much, much higher incarceration rates, the fact that 1 in 5 women out earn their husbands isn’t surprising to me at all.
Also, I don’t think it’s harmful. People should be free to do what they want. If they want to date/marry for looks or money/status, that’s fine. If you want to date/marry someone on personal, great. If you want to date/marry on personality great. There is no right or wrong answer here – men and women should be and are free to choose the type of person they like. Most people do a combination of all of the above.
“Maybe a woman is initially attracted to a pretty car. Or maybe she’s just thinking “finally, a guy who’s got his shit together instead of some 30-year-old former frat boy sharing an apartment with four of his friends.” That’s not necessarily money-motivated. ”
I call balogney. When a woman says a man “has has shit together” = doing well financially or moving in that direction quickly. What’s wrong with sharing an apartment with 4 friends? Nothing. It’s simply an *indication* that they are lazy and don’t do well financially.
If I understand you correctly, you are saying men look for qualities that are health related? Can I interpret it as, you are looking for a candidate with a good gene pool? While beauty/youth are good indicators, would you think in this day and age, intelligence outweighs both of these characteristics? Fertility on another hand, I don’t know about you, I imagine most people will have a hard time knowing whether a person is fertile before the decision to marriage…
Lol. Based on the number of times my wife chases me down the hallway with sunscreen and has tricked me into chemical peels (I’m thirty!) looks must be something of a factor. :)
Hmmm. Your comment reminds me of this post: https://www.financialsamurai.com/the-best-post-on-craigslist-and-its-all-about-love-and-money/
I wouldn’t mind being the beautiful husband with six-pack abs who has a very successful wife who was much richer. I think it’d be awesome to be able to work out, surf, play tennis, write, and take care of the household!
In fact, we men have explored this topic here: How To Convince Your Spouse To Work Longer So You Can Retire Earlier
I married smart and beautiful, but not rich. If I had married rich, I would be forced out of my comfort zone on a regular basis, spending money I don’t care to waste, pretending to enjoy fancy wine, and ridiculed either behind my back or to my face for relatively frugal habits.
He he, good point.
I also got a pretty good looking husband, even if 11 years my senior, with an amazing sense of humour and really smart as well. It has helped us build a nice life together, since we’re both of similar intellectual strength and have started humble in life as well.
Our daughter on the other hand will have an easier life, since we’re struggling to provide the best we can for her. We’ll need to teach her to be grateful for what she as and also strive to become a great person herself and not rely solely on what we can provide for her.
But you could be retired by now, instead of going to medical school and then wanting to retire after all those years!
Imagine if you met your wife in college, you could have taken like basket weaving or English and graduated to do whatever you want. Pretty cool!
Fun article, Sam. I was blessed to meet my wife in high school. We didn’t start dating until we went to separate colleges, but we made things work.
Americans don’t like to speak about it a lot, but we absolutely have, if not a “class” system, then at least a “prestige bias” which can be detrimental to relationships.
I joined the Marine Corps Reserves after 9/11 and was sent on a combat deployment every three years. When I wasn’t training or deployed, I was in school. Meanwhile my wife crushed college, a masters, and graduated from a top tier law school the same year I graduated from college.
She handled it well, but there were plenty of people who looked down on her for being married to a humble infantryman. Still, I loved and was proud of my service. Also the deployment money paid for my education and our bills.
I was accepted into a top tier law school and a police department in the same month. Talk about a life descision! Having watched my wife go through law school and being aware of my own talent and skills, I made a choice for law enforcement and have not regretted it for a second.
My wife became a lawyer for the military (JAG in their terminology) and vastly outranked me. A male marine corps Staff Sergeant married to a female Air Force Captain? Scandalous!
It was annoying as once again there was the Downton Abbey “servant married into nobility” aspect. Per military rules, I wasn’t technically allowed to associate with my wife’s peers, either. Very awkward.
Hilariously, I made more money as a youthful Californian cop than a Lieutenant Colonel with 20 years in the Air Force. I did not bring it up in conversation, but I cherished the concept. I think this is what caused me to ignore prestige and focus on the bottom line of benefits and lifestyle. This focus caused me to terminate my FBI Agent application after discovering I would take a 20k hit in salary and see my 40 hour condensed schedule morph into a minimum 50 hour workweek.
Despite the social awkwardness and challenges of all the combat deployments, my amazing wife (who did a combat deployment to Afghanistan as well, poor woman) and I remain tight and together. It was not an easy journey!
Now that I have children I can say what I want for them is someone who can be a loyal and supportive other half. Both my wife and I had successes and failures throughout the relationship, but as a unified team we have confronted multiple hardships and overcome together.
Whether they marry rich or get there on their own I just hope they have a partner who complements them as well as my wife completes me.
Wow, I had no idea about those military rules. It seems rather strange — like a concrete ceiling rather than a glass one. If you can’t talk and network with higher-ups, how do you get ahead once you get past a certain point?
Or was it the fact that it was Marines to Air Force rather than the same branch?
They call it “fraternization” and you have to stay strictly within your lane. The initial divide is between “officers” and “enlisted” (college vs high school education). The ranks are further divided in amongst themselves. For example the enlisted world is further divided into three parts: “Non-NCO”, NCO, and Staff NCO. There are similar divides in the officer’s world. If you are in one club you should not have personal relationships with those from another class.
If you do and it becomes a thing, you can be prosecuted for it. As you can see, talking and networking to get ahead is very difficult, if not illegal. Your direct supervisors are essential to your success.
There is a solid concrete ceiling! The military is more like a sieve than a pyramid. Without a college degree you cannot be an officer. If you fail to promote to the next level by a given time period you are forced out of the military.
Networking can still be done (especially by attending West Point or the Air Force Academy) but the rules are a little different. Essentially, the only reason my marriage to my wife was “lawful” was because it occurred years before she was commissioned.
As for interbranch rivalry, my Marine Corps heritage only made me MORE conscious of the “class” difference as the Marines are easily the most rabidly traditional when it comes to “customs and courtesies.”
What an awesome comment, and your last line actually choked me up a little. :) I just want to say thank you for being the voice of a guy who wasn’t threatened by the differential in income or “rank” between you and your wife. As a high-earning female myself, I have felt a ton of resistance from guys who feel like they have to out-earn their female partner or something is wrong with the world. I’m not interested in competing with anyone based on earnings. To me, we’re just part of the same team (or we’re not a team at all). But even now, my boyfriend of 4+ years–a musician–admits that there are times when he feels like he’s “not a man” because he earns less than I do. I feel bad for him, but at the same time I just want to slap the guy stereotype upside the head and say “knock it off!”
Thanks! I think the “team”aspect is the most important. When my wife is employed she trounces my earning potential, but she takes regular educational detours in her conquest of the post script alphabet (BS, MA, Esq., LLM, and now EMBA). Meanwhile I have steady growth & a rock solid career since 2002. I also handle all domestic tasks. (All hail the 3 days a week, 12 hours a day schedule!)
I’ve felt your boyfriends pain, but I don’t believe it’s about salary as much as being a valuable contributor. Hopefully he realizes he’s a valued contributor in other aspects! It’s slightly cheesy, but I usually tell myself when the motivation gets sapped by the disaster of daily life: “I may not be the hero my family wants, but I’m the hero they have.” Boom. Time to be better!
Haha! Love it. I’m going to show him your comments. Thank you. :)
You’re fighting tens of thousands of years [or longer] of evolution. (Most) Men get extreme satisfaction in providing for their family, or dissatisfaction from lack thereof and men as a rule are fairly competitive. Women are competitive as well – but typically with looks rather than money. Of course, exceptions abound.
But this is a self-reinforcing ideology, and it’s proven to be harmful. (Exhibit A: the strain that is present in nearly all of the relationships where the woman out-earns her male partner.) Why keep perpetuating it? There’s no evolutionary reason why we should still be saying today that men need to be the breadwinners in order to be men. Calling it “evolution” and shrugging our shoulders is allowing the problem to continue.
Women out-earn their husbands in 38% of marriages now. Women are getting more education than men are now. Can’t we all just pick our knuckles up off the ground and live in today’s world? There’s nothing wrong with a women earning more than a man, or vice versa.
And I don’t think you’re right about men being competitive in the money sphere and women in the looks sphere, and that there are “exceptions” to that rule. I think there are so many “exceptions” that it’s not even a rule anymore. But people keep pretending that it’s a rule, which is maddening to those of us who don’t fit it.
It’s not an ideology per se, it really is simple evolution. It’s the same reason that most animals are extremely protective of their pups when born. Sure if you got rid of all the knight in shining armor stories it would help alleviate it – but that’s not going to happen. It’s not like men go around talking about being out-earned by their women or potential women. Men simply talk about how attractive a woman is and how crazy or not crazy a particular woman is. Not all men feel this way – but certainly most men at the top half of the IQ bell-curve do (Men have a much larger std deviation on IQ than women). I don’t need a woman to provide for me. I’ve been self sufficient since I was 17. Also, not all women feel that way, but I think the fact that women drive 70-80% of consumer spending coupled with both studies showing women care about a man’s wealth/status and a long history of hypergamy shows that most women do care. There is nothing wrong with any of those POV in my opinion.
Frankly, most of us men care less about a woman’s career when we look for partners, especially once we hit 75k/yr in income on our own. I think your own personal experience and beliefs with competition and what genders (on average) want is biasing your opinion. Over the last 10 years I’ve moved significantly up the corporate ladder at a number of companies, received my MBA and have mentored dozens of people in that time, more females than males. Nearly half of those women I mentored, including 2 that were in my MBA program, have dropped out of the labor force altogether (and were extremely excited about it) and a quarter of the remaining decided to flat line their career because they decided they preferred more family time than continuing to climb the corporate ladder. I only know 1 guy in the same boat. Anecdotal of course, but Chicago Booth did a long term study of its MBA cohorts over long time (to try to find out why men /women started off making the same out of B-school but then fell off 5 years out) and their results for female MBA students showed the same thing (start off with similar hours as males in work, end up 20% lower, many drop out of the labor force and even more take a long break from their career vs almost no men)
Evolution? You actually believe that?
I would say marrying someone who served in the military is a great honor. Don’t sell yourself short!
I like to think that Ms. FP and I have a strong relationship because we both are in solid earning, professional, and intellectual fields, but importantly, we both are starting out pretty broke.
We both have good, middle class parents, but neither of them could afford to pay for our grad school, so as a result we both had to take out significant loan debt, and we’re both on the same page on paying it off quickly. (I paid mine off earlier this year, Ms. FP will pay hers off within a year once she’s done with residency).
I think starting out in the hole like this helped keep us grounded. We don’t act like we’re rich, because we really aren’t.
Since we’re both in professional fields, we also see each other as equals. Ms. FP will earn more than me, but I don’t feel like I’m “beneath her.”
That’s so true that the older we get the more stories we hear of couples parting ways. But on a positive note one of my older friends got married for the first time earlier this year and another friend has found his perfect catch is likely to propose before this year is out or sometime next year. It’s always nice to hear stories when people find love later in life and settle down.
Relationships can get complicated over time – I guess in the short-term too – so the more a couple has in common the better I think. There’s a helpful book, Difficult Conversations, that I think a lot of people in relationships can benefit from too. Breakdowns in communication or total lack thereof can pull people apart and there’s good food for thought in embracing topics that aren’t fun to discuss.
I don’t know too many couples that are drastically different in wealth. I can think of one however where the woman didn’t work and never really did in the past either but while she dated her rich boyfriend she spent his money like it was water. She had super expensive taste and it always seemed odd to me that she had no qualms spending so much of his money.
I would have thought they’d have split by now, but so far they’re still together several years later. I do wonder if he secretly resents how she spends his money. It will be interesting to see how their relationship unfolds over the next decade. I wish them the best but I can also imagine the husband getting so fed up with her reckless spending at some point and wanting out. Who knows!