How Marriage Affects My ER Prospects (part 2)

I decided to do a quantitative analysis of our joint income.  It turns out that we save over $5K in taxes by filing jointly, rather than separately.  Together, we would take home $140K after taxes and maximum contributions to 401(k).  If we max out our Roth IRA contributions as well, then we have $130K remaining.  For joint expenses, my current spending of $30K per year will likely increase.  Let’s say she spends $1,000 per month extra and our rent increases by $500 per month.  That means our joint expenses would go up to $48K per year.  In addition to $33K in 401(k) contributions and $10K in Roth IRA contributions, we would be able to save $82K per year.  I know I’m mixing taxable and tax-deferred amounts, but the total savings would be $125K.  That’s not too bad.  Of course, who knows if an extra $1,000 per month is reasonable.  She’s not a big spender, but that $1,000 will include car costs, commuting costs, etc.

Oh, and in related news, I bought an e-ring!  It’s a 1.26 carat super ideal cut hearts and arrows diamond (H color, VS2 clarity).  I was very particular about buying this one.  I checked all the angles and proportions, including min/max variations, studied multiple reflector images (Idealscope and ASET), and consulted with the gemologist.  The angles are all very precise.  I spent $8,600 (or just over two weeks pre-tax salary) and I feel good about it.  (It will take me about six weeks to save the $8,600 back.)  It’s in a temporary white gold setting so she can pick out something she likes later.   Once I receive the ring, I will take it to my local jeweler who carries Hearts on Fire (TM) and make sure my diamond sparkles at least as much as (and hopefully more than) a similarly-spec’d HoF.

How Marriage Affects My ER Prospects (part 1)

The M word has come up recently, which has prompted me to think about whether I am the marrying type.  Of course there are pros and cons.  My first impression was that the pros were mostly emotional, while the cons were mostly financial.  For example, one benefit to marriage is that it gives a warm and fuzzy feeling — that you can spend the rest of your life committed to someone else.  A con of marriage is that expenses go up and it takes longer to accumulate 25 times annual expenses for early retirement.  Of course, if the spouse earns a large salary, then this con might turn into a pro.  There’s also the freedom aspect of it all.  A single person is much more free than a married person.  Free to move around, explore.  On the flip side, maybe a solid foundation actually contributes to increasing happiness — after all that’s the ultimate goal right?  Married people also tend to get the itch to have kids.  You can forget early retirement when kids enter the picture!

Then there’s the whole financial outlay in order to get married.  Engagement ring — $10K; wedding — $30K; honeymoon — $5K.  That’s 1.5 years of living expenses right there!  The thought of “throwing” away $45K to get married really makes me uncomfortable.  Of course, other people spend that much to get married.  I’m good at cutting expenses.  Maybe I could get total costs down to $20K (including an impressive 1.25 carat diamond ring for $8K, a decent wedding for $10K, and $2K + frequent flier miles for the honeymoon).  Still that’s a lot of money…

In the end, the two important questions are: is marriage worth it?  is the traditional wedding process worth it?