A friend with benefits is nice. But a spouse with benefits is better.
Friends with benefits get all the Hollywood hype.
But from a purely dollars-and-cents point of view, a spouse with benefits is a much better deal.
You’ll not only save on taxes and insurance but be more financially secure.
We would never suggest marrying for money.
But if you've been in a committed relationship for a while and decide to tie the knot, here are some of the financial advantages you’ll enjoy with a spouse.
Advantage 1. Two is better than one.
Let's face it. Whether you're trying to lug a sofa upstairs or trying to save for a house, two is always better than one.
It's good when someone has your back and can lend you a hand.
When you're married, you've got two incomes and two brains working together.
Hopefully you have double the assets or at least a little more money than you would if you were single.
It's even better if you're both on the same page about investing, saving for your future and staying out of debt.
You get a lot more financial security in so many ways.
Even if one spouse stays at home or is a student, there's the potential for future earnings.
Some married couples keep their finances separate, some merge them. But in any case, you both will be working together for your common good.
Through compounding, your investments can grow even faster if you're saving twice the money.
While you think you may have all of these things with a "friend with benefits," your commitment is that much stronger when you're married.
You're not only joined financially, emotionally and physically -- you're joined legally.
Advantage 2. You can have more health insurance options.
While more companies are offering benefits to unmarried partners nowadays, you still have the most options when you're married.
If you're both employed at companies that offer health insurance, you then get two options to choose from. Pick the best and least-expensive coverage, then decline benefits at the other company.
If you're self-employed, having a spouse with health insurance benefits at work can be a lifesaver.
Because your only other option would be to get an individual plan on the open market, you may save 50% or more in premiums should you be insured through a spouse's plan at an employer.
Also, an employer’s plan usually isn’t going to decline you based on any preexisting conditions. Regardless of your medical history, you should get the same rate that other spouses would.
How much you save will depend on the individual company plan.
Some companies will cover up to 80% of an employee's premiums but won't cover anything for spouses.
Advantage 3. You can save big on taxes.
When you're married, you have the option to file your taxes jointly or separately.
What is best for you depends on your income, deductions and various other factors.
But at least there is the opportunity that you can save on taxes. In some cases, it can add up to thousands of dollars.
Don't listen to the talk about the "marriage penalty," which has largely been erased by changing tax brackets and increased deductions.
If you have two big earners, you could pay slightly more in taxes, but there's not much of a difference for most people.
If one spouse makes a fair bit more than the other, there could actually be considerable tax savings.
Let's say one spouse makes $75,000 per year and the other, $35,000.
As a single filer with the standard deduction and personal exemptions, the first spouse would owe $12,500 in taxes. The $35,000 earner as a single filer would owe $3,400.
That's a total of $15,900 for the both.
But if they were married filing jointly with $110,000 in income, they'd owe $15,000 in taxes.
That's $900 in savings in federal taxes alone.
And if one spouse is a stay-at-home parent, student or doesn't work, the savings can be even greater.
Let’s say you're making $60,000 per year, your partner is making $0 per year, and you get married.
The minute you get married, your standard deduction will double and you'll drop from the 25% tax bracket to the 15% bracket.
With a $60,000 income as a single filer, you'd owe $8,750 in federal taxes.
But if you got married and your spouse had no income, you'd pay only $5,300 if you filed jointly.
Advantage 4. You can get a break on auto insurance.
Men, in particular, can see a massive reduction in their auto insurance premiums once they get married.
Insurance companies make men in their 20s pay through the nose.
But they seem to think that when you get married, you're less likely to drive like a maniac. Your liability insurance could drop by 50% or more.
Insurance companies also provide more discounts when you combine policies with multiple cars and drivers, so the savings can add up more.
In many cases, the couple may actually pay less when they come together on the same policy than they did on their individual policies.
Of course, all the financial benefits of marriage assume you marry the right person at the right time for the right reasons.
Just as marriage can offer many financial advantages, it can also be a financial catastrophe if it doesn't work out.
The average cost of a divorce is roughly $20,000. And that doesn't even include things like alimony and division of assets.
No one should ever get married for financial reasons or to save a few bucks. But if you’re already in a committed lifelong relationship, walking down the aisle can bring some financial security.