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Marriage or Mortgage?

Home Ownership, Money & Relationships, Real Money Talk, Relationships Marriage or Mortgage

As any given couple progresses through the different phases of their relationship, they might come to a point where one partner wants to get married, while the other feels like they should move in together and/or buy a house. These are both incredibly big commitments and each comes with different pros and cons. The right answer will be different for each couple in their own situation, but here’s a look at some of the things you might consider if you’re in a similar situation.

The cost of weddings and houses

There is no doubt that the cost of weddings has climbed tremendously over the past several years. If your relationship has reached the point of considering getting married, it’s likely that you’ve already thought about your dream wedding and how much it might cost. The cost of a wedding varies wildly but no matter how much you spend on your wedding, once you spend the money, it’s gone. Unlike retirement accounts, houses, or other forms of investment, you won’t be able to get that money back.

Buying a house is another big cost, though at least with buying a house you have the hope that spending the money will be a good investment. Coming up with a down payment for a house can be a significant accomplishment, and might compete with funds needed for a wedding or other large expenses.

How to prioritize

Like most things in life, be they financial or otherwise, it should come down to priorities. There is only so much money and time, so you need to decide what is most important for you. Of course, it’s a little more complicated when it involves more than one person. 

When trying to decide between marriage, mortgage, or any other big priorities, it’s best to sit down together and have an honest conversation. Talk about the most important things for you, and listen carefully to the most important things for your partner. That will help you choose what is most important to prioritize.

What to consider

If you’re considering marriage or buying a house together, it’s likely that your relationship is fairly serious. If you’re not ready to make both of those commitments, it may not be a good idea to make either. There are valid reasons for marriage and not rushing into buying a house, but the reverse is not really true in most cases. Buying a house without a formal commitment like a marriage can cause problems down the road. While you may think your relationship might never break up, it’s a good idea to at least discuss this possibility before buying a house together.

How to have it all

If you’re committed to marriage and buying a house but unsure of the order, it’s time to prioritize. For most people, marriage and then buying a house will make the most sense. And you can have it all, just maybe not all at the same time. Of course, anything is possible with enough money! But if you’re in a situation where you only have enough money for marriage or to buy a house, it’s time to prioritize.

Sit down together and decide what is most important to you. Maybe you decide on marriage this year and save for buying a house later. Maybe you’ve found the perfect house so decide to act on that now and marriage is down the road. Maybe you can cut back on the wedding cost and use that money towards a down payment on a house. There won’t be a single right answer for everyone — instead, decide what works best for you and your partner. The key to making sure everyone is and remains happy is open and honest communication.

The Bottom Line

If you’re in a relationship, you might be trying to decide between marriage or mortgage. Do you spend your money towards the cost of a wedding? Or save it for a down payment on a house? It’s a complicated situation that won’t have one answer that is right in all situations. Instead, sit down with your partner and talk about what is most important to each of you. That will help you make the right decision for both of you.

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