When some advice is more harmful than none at all
I just came across a ridiculous article entitled “3 huge financial reasons to delay marriage & kids no matter how much you love each other”.
It was written by former property lawyer who now writes about personal finance matters. In the article, the writer identified these three financial “reasons”
1. When one (or both) of you is still heavily in debt
2. When you don’t have an emergency fund
3. When you don’t feel ready
Well, actually the last one is not really a financial reason per se. Anytime a person does not feel ready to commit to a marriage, (s)he shouldn’t. So that “reason” is no real reason. It just is common sense.
So then let’s look at the other two: debt and emergency fund. When has it ever been that money is required to get married? Money is required to purchase a house; it is required to pay for your wedding; it is required to buy those Christian Louboutin shoes. But it never is for getting married. Remember, a wedding is for a day, a marriage is for a lifetime. Get your priorities in order!
I know. We can’t live on love and fresh air alone. But what I have found out having been married for 23 years, and blessed with five beautiful children, is that it’s not about the money. It really is about your expectations.
So here are four of my reasons why you should get married when you love each other:
1. It is not about keeping up with the Joneses
Since when do we need a $110,000 wedding? A simple ceremony followed by a simple reception with close family and friends is all you need. I remember my wedding had 33 tables. I can’t even remember half of the people who came. And I have lost contact with 80% of the remainder. Why? Because we were keeping up with the Joneses. When someone has a “dream” wedding, we need one, even if we cannot afford it. So, yes, I agree, don’t go into debt for your wedding. But don’t put it off because you need that big, dreamy wedding. Wait until your 25th anniversary and have your children throw you that dream wedding! Now how’s that for a novel idea?
2. Live within your means
The article presupposes that starting a life together is expensive. If that is the case, marriage is a luxury good. But it most definitely is NOT! In fact, I know rich people who are unhappily married, and poor people who are happily married. So what gives? Marriage is a state of union where two people come together and share their lives and start a family. There is a pooling of resources, of talents, of experiences; and, yes, even of money. You can do that living in a one-room flat as you can, living in a 20-room castle. Location is irrelevant for marriage to flourish. But the relationship is. And if you live within your means, not being envious of the others who have materially more than you, and enjoying your life together, as opposed to chasing other people’s dreams, you will have a good marriage; whatever your means!
3. You can never be totally prepared for all eventualities
Whoever said that you needed a minimum sum before marriage? It is already bad enough that CPF sets aside a minimum sum for your retirement, now you also want set one aside for your marriage? What do you set that aside for? And how much is enough? Anyway, what is the point of getting married if you cannot face an unexpected turn in life together? Yes, if you want to have an emergency fund, have it. But it can be built up over time; not necessarily at the point of marriage. Don’t get fooled by financial consultants who offer you self-serving advice; marriage is not a risk to be mitigated away, it is a life to be lived together.
4. A life unexplored is not worth living
Plato wrote, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I say, “An unexplored life is not worth living.” And if you are unable to take the best risk of your life, a risk of ups and downs that are unparalleled and unattained as a single, then you will be living an unexplored life. And that, in my books, is not worth living. The spoils of life, as of business, come to those who are willing to risk it. It is not about having money, it is about creating value. Marriage has that value that you cannot fathom until you are in it.
Don’t put off the best decision in your life because of poor advice
There is advice and there is ADVICE. Don’t put off the best decision of your life because of some poor advice given from a person who might not know better. Marriage is not about having the right amount of money; it is about a decision to commit to someone else, a decision to build a family where people come together to face the future together, despite our bank balance. I may not live in private property, drive a Massarati, or jet to faraway places every two months, but I am immensely happy. And if happiness is your intent, then the answer is to not hold out on your marriage because of money. You may regret it even more so!