Tying the Knot after Thirty? How to Merge Your Finances

How is marriage different for partners who marry later in life?

You could be more set in your ways, financially and otherwise. This can be a good thing, if you’re financially secure and begin your marriage with a clear vision of where you’re both headed.

“The person I was at 24 was not the same at 48,” explains Caroline, an executive assistant from Surrey who married at the age of 41. “With age, we found we naturally discussed topics like pensions and investments early on. It was therefore apparent very early in the relationship if there was anything glaringly ‘unbalanced’. The practical side was easy, as from a financial perspective we were better off together and pretty equal financially.”

But after managing career and lifestyle decisions independently for so many years, you’ll have to learn to compromise — quickly. Kathy, a 67 year old retired urban planner from Seattle tied the knot at age 36, and experienced this sense of immediacy. “I think the hardest issue when you marry in your mid-thirties is that everything is accelerated,” she explains. “We both wanted to have children and I was 36 when I got married — so we had to get cracking fast! Within the first year, we had a baby, purchased our first house and I finished a Master’s degree.”

Financial Teamwork

If you decide to get married later in life, you’ll face a unique set of financial decisions that will need to be addressed early on.

  • Understand the marriage penalty – Many people are already in their peak earning years in their late thirties and forties, which means they may face the so-called marriage penalty if they tie the knot. If you and your partner are both earning high incomes, you could end up owing more on your income taxes than you would as single filers.
  • Aim for transparency – Getting married later means you probably have more in terms of assets, savings, and possible debts or obligations outside of the relationship. Be honest about your financial history, and discuss how you’ll merge your financial lives.
  • Think about a prenup – While not the most romantic option, those getting married older may have more assets in need of protection. A prenuptial agreement will dictate how your things will be split should your marriage end, or if a spouse passes away.

You’ll also have to decide how and if you’ll merge your bank accounts or insurance benefits, and discuss new career opportunities and lifestyle changes together. Coming into these discussions with a clear picture of your past, and awareness of certain challenges will be essential.

When you marry later in life, your wisdom and life experience can be an asset together. Discuss important decisions early on to protect your assets and your future.