Is Length of Marriage Tied to Financial Stability?

by TTMK on November 6, 2014 · 4 comments

The following post is from staff writer Melissa Batai

The question: Is length of time married tied to financial stability?

I had never heard of this idea before, but when someone on one of my Facebook groups asked the question, it made sense.

She had heard that the first 10 years of marriage were the roughest financially. Years 10 to 19 were the evening out years, so to speak, and years 20 and more of marriage were the ones when most couples reached a level of financial comfort and stability.

This formula sounds nice, doesn’t it? Put in your time and within 20 years of marriage, you’ll reach financial stability and comfort. However, from the responses she got to poising that question, achieving financial stability is not that easy.

Over 70 people responded to this question, and there are many variables to how your financial situation shakes out:

Chance Has a Lot to Do with It

Turns out there are obvious factors like the economy and layoffs that have a lot to do with financial security. Unfortunately, we can do very little about these extenuating circumstances, but we can do other things to encourage financial stability.

Factors Couples Can Control

There are other factors that couples can control that have a significant impact on their finances.

Number of children you have. Not surprisingly, the number of children you have has a direct impact on finances. If you have the national average of two children, you’ll spend less on necessities like food and clothing than you would if you have, say, six kids.

How much money you’re willing to spend on your children. This is one of the largest variables that can affect family finances. Are you sending the kids to private school? Are they in the traveling soccer team? Or, do you let them earn their own allowance and require them to buy their own clothing from their allowance? How much or how little you give your children makes a huge difference in finances.

Whether or not one parent stays home with the children. Staying home with your children can be a wonderful thing, but for most, the trade off is tighter finances. This is a personal decision for most couples, but it does have a serious impact on family finances.

The Most Important Things You Can Do

Several of the couples said that there were two important factors that affected their finances:

The ability to stick to the budget. One woman shared that she and her husband had gone through injuries, layoffs, and tough economic times, but they were doing well financially. The most important thing they had done since day one was to live on less than they earned. By doing this, they were always able to grow a savings account which could see them through rough financial patches.

The ability to agree on how to spend money. Not surprisingly, the ability to communicate about finances and get on the same page has a huge impact on a family’s finances. One woman commented that because she and her husband agreed to be frugal with their money, they were able to save more. They also didn’t have to fight over blown budgets.

My Question for You

Do you think years married is tied to financial stability? What other factors do you think go into determining whether a couple struggles financially or not?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Little House November 6, 2014 at 8:47 am

I’m guessing the years married and financial stability are only one part of a complex equation. From the perspective of, “Oh yes, this makes sense,” if a couple marries in their 20’s when they are just getting their careers started, they are less likely to be financially stable. Once they’ve hit year 20+ in their marriage, I’d assume they’ve established careers, earned more money over the years, and possibly learned to budget and invest. However, there are so many other factors involved in becoming financially stable, such as budgeting and being on the same page, I’m guessing this rule of thumb doesn’t apply to everyone.

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Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom November 6, 2014 at 9:29 am

I’ve heard that money problems are the number one reason couples get divorced, but I don’t have a reference for it. I can see how money issues could cause relationship issues and lead to divorce though. I think financial “success” is mostly about mindset and budgeting and communication would definitely be more useful than “time in”

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Jean @ NearlyRetired November 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

Like Emily, I’ve heard that money problems are a key contributor to marital problems. It certainly seems that could be true. There’s a lot in the world we can’t control — but if we’re at least on the same page about approach and budget we can pull in the same direction, which helps a lot.

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Jon @ Money Smart Guides November 11, 2014 at 7:22 am

I think it all comes back to the couple. If they are open about money and talk about their goals and when they screw up and they live within their means, I think everything will work itself out, even with layoffs, injuries, etc. It’s when you spend secretly behind the others back or spend more than you make that is going to make money a huge issue in the years to come.

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