Is Your Mate Worth $600 a Year? - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Is Your Mate Worth $600 a Year?

Is Your Mate Worth $600 a Year?

By Steven Butler

A man sits home alone eating food on the couch.


Love is a wonderful thing — if you can afford it.

By Steven Butler

Love certainly has its rewards, but you might have to pay a price to get them. Actually, love can be quite costly — and it ain’t getting any cheaper. We’ve all heard the saying that two can live as cheaply as one, but that only turns out to be true if you can afford the price of admission. What’s the ticket cost these days?

Naturally, no two lovers are alike, but a joint survey conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education and the relationship website, found that:


of individuals spent an extra $600 annually while in a relationship.

That could be worse, right? Well, for many it is. More than 1 in 7 people, the survey found, upped their spending by over $3,600 annually just to woo their significant other. Think restaurant visits, vacations — not to mention gym memberships, trips to the beauty parlor or shopping sprees. When in love, it seems, money just flows out the door.

Turns out it’s guys who are the real suckers. Thirty-five percent of men make a habit of buying frivolous gifts once a month, compared to just 21 percent of women. Money is, of course, a constant source of tension in relationships, and Paul Golden, a spokesman from NEFE, says the survey was aimed, in part, at getting couples to start a dialogue about exactly how they’re spending money.

Just in time, it turns out. A survey by the Canadian website pegged the cost of dating through marriage at around $40,000, an increase of 11 percent in just one year. The costs break down to nearly $6,200 for a year of dating, more than $8,700 for the engagement and over $25,500 for the wedding — what the site reckons is a reasonable cocktail of dinners, movies, vacations, a ring and a wedding dress, the wedding itself and the honeymoon. “If you don’t have a plan in place it can eat into your savings,” warns Penelope Graham, editor at the site.

Still, some research has found the dance of courtship could all be worth it — if you can tie the knot. In fact, if love really lasts, it could be downright lucrative. “Getting married and staying married is a wonderful way to increase your wealth,” says Jay Zagorsky, an economist and the author of a study at Ohio State’s Center for Human Resource Research that found that the wealth of married couples increased at an average rate of 16 percent annually, compared to half that for singles.

But there’s a big catch (of course there is!). If you don’t stay married, those accumulated savings often go up in smoke: The wealth of divorcées clocked in 77 percent lower than that of singles. And while it’s probably not a good idea to plan your love life around these financial consequences, it’s hard to ignore them.

Sign up for the weekly newsletter!

Related Stories