Comedian Billy Connolly once said, “Marriage is a wonderful invention; then again, so is a bicycle repair kit.” However, what Mr. Connolly probably was not aware of when he said this was that marriage can also prolong your life more than a bicycle repair kit would.
Once retired, married couples tend to live longer than single people do, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. But they don’t just live longer. They also accumulate more wealth during their working years. Of course, every retired person’s situation is different. Some have managed to accrue enough savings and successful investments in their working years to have a comfortable life, while for others, when their income drops post-retirement they have very few resources.
Some people can retire well even though they have minimal savings. This is because they may have assets, such as a house and pension benefits, that allow them to live comfortably.
What was interesting in the National Bureau of Economic Research’s study was that it showed that single people accrued far fewer assets than married people, even though they had fewer people to support during their lifetime. Interestingly, 57% of single-person households were left with no housing wealth or just $10,000 in savings when they passed away. While the surviving spouses of married folks were often hit hard financially when they were widowed, they still did better in terms of asset accumulation than their single peers.
The bottom line is that in financial terms, marriage may be justified. For example, although there are usually more dependents in a marriage situation, such as children and/or a stay-at-home spouse, couples are more likely to put down roots and buy a house, which can significantly boost their net assets, post-mortgage payments. And when both partners in a marriage have worked, then the differences in asset accumulation are even more obvious.
While comedians often like to make fun of marriage and family life, there is nothing funny about its potential to make you richer, or your retirement more comfortable. And if you and your spouse are so inclined to go bike riding, don’t forget to bring along your bicycle repair kit. It, like marriage can make your future more secure.