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Relationships

The Financial Pros & Cons of Marriage

5 min. readbyVexxit StaffonFebruary 11, 2022
Before you decide if you want to walk down the aisle, check out the pros and cons of marriage in Canada. If you’re thinking about getting married—or even moving in together—our list can help you weigh your options.

As a bridesmaid in more weddings than I can count, I have a closet full of dresses in every colour of the rainbow. I’ve stood next to my friends as they’ve said their I dos, all while dodging the question, “When’s your big day?”

I get it. My boyfriend and I have been together for years, and at 30, we’re right around the average age for a first marriage in Canada (though calling it a first marriage takes some of the romance out of the idea, don’t you think?).

Marriage might seem like the next step for some, but for me, I see dollar signs behind that beautiful wedding gown and picture-perfect venue. I see other financial priorities, like paying off my student loan and saving for a house. I see statistics that claim fights over money are a leading cause of divorce and honestly, I don’t want to ruin a good thing.

My boyfriend sees things a little differently. He thinks marriage is a good financial decision, and I’m not saying he’s wrong. I’m also not saying marriage isn’t for me. I simply want to go into it with my head, heart and wallet intact. Let's dive in to the pros and the cons you need to consider.

THE PROS

1. Financial accountability

When you’re single and living on your own, you’re only accountable to yourself. As soon as you bring another person into the mix, your financial decisions impact them and vice versa.

While this might seem like a con to some, it can help you make more financially responsible decisions (like skipping the daily $6 latte in favour of a to-go mug from home).

2. Shared expenses

There are no courses on how to manage finances in a marriage. But yet, finances ruin marriages every year more than any other factor. Whether you choose to combine finances after marriage or keep them separate, two incomes are better than one when it comes to paying the bills. Of course, if your partner has a habit of leaving every light on or cranking the heat 24 hours a day, that might be a separate discussion to have before you commit to a joint account.

3. Health insurance

While we technically enjoy “free” healthcare in Canada, we don’t get universal coverage for dental care, ambulance service, certain healthcare apparatus, and so on. So, if you need a cavity filled or new eyeglasses, you’re S.O.L. unless you a) have money saved to cover it, b) have an employer-supported healthcare plan that you pay into, or c) are married to or live common-law with someone who does.

If you don’t have an employer-supported healthcare plan and you marry or become common-law with someone who does, you get access to the same benefits they do (usually up to a certain percentage). If you both have employer-supported healthcare plans, you might combine them to get 100% coverage or you might drop one, so you’re only paying into one plan.

4. Long-term security

No one wants to think of the worst, especially when it comes to their partner (well, most days—speaking for myself, of course).

My boyfriend and I have talked about updating our wills and getting life insurance, if we choose to get married. At least if something were to happen, we would know each other’s wishes and have some financial security to carry us through.

THE CONS

1. The wedding

Okay, hopeless romantics, I’m not saying the wedding itself is a con. Financially speaking, though, it can be.

The average cost of a wedding in Canada is between $22,000 and $30,000. Read that again. Yes, it’s (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime thing and you deserve to have the wedding of your dreams, but it’s also a big hit to your bank account. Something to think about before you put down that non-refundable wedding deposit.

2. Debt

Your partner’s debt and credit score do not become yours when you marry. While this might seem like a good thing, financial infidelity complicates things when you want to take on joint debt—like a mortgage, car loan or credit card.

Let’s say you apply for a mortgage together. If your partner has a lot of money problems, hides money and debt or has a less-than-ideal credit score, you might not get approved—or, you might get approved with a high interest rate, or a lesser mortgage than you were hoping for.

Alternately, if your partner racks up expenses on a joint credit card or fails to make a payment, it’s going to reflect poorly on both of you.

3. Potentially fewer tax deductions

As a married or common-law couple in Canada, you’ll continue to file individual tax returns—you’ll just indicate your changed marital status when you do so.

With that changed marital status comes a few tax changes, too.

You might pay more tax, for instance, if you both sold homes to buy one together (thanks to capital gains tax).

You might also be ineligible for certain deductions if you have a child from a previous relationship. There are certain benefits available to single parents in Canada that become moot the minute you get married or become common-law, namely the ability to claim an eligible dependent on your tax return.

All that said, legally married couples and common-law spouses can sometimes transfer tax credits to the partner who will benefit the most. They can also contribute to a spousal RRSP to lower their taxable income.

This is one of those grey areas that’s best sorted through with a personal finance expert, who can help you maximize deductions based on your unique circumstances.

At the end of the day, it’s about what works for you and your partner—and taking care of the not-so-fun stuff so you can focus on the relationship that got you here in the first place.

Download our guide, Protect the Romance by Taking Care of the Finance: A Complete Guide to Modern Relationships, for more on how to protect yourself legally, financially and emotionally before you commit. And, as always, Vexxit has a whole network of financial advisors, lawyers, accountants and consultants to help you through the big and little decisions in life.

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