My Personal Finance Journey

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How Much Will You Marry For?

Contributed by mm | January 10, 2008 12:47 AM PST

6355-superrich.jpgRobert Frank's column The Wealth Report at the Journal is all about the rich people's financial life, or anything related to the riches. You will read about how the riches use MySpace-like portals to get connected, how someone can have an A-380 as a private jet, and what the truly rich buy for Christmas gifts.

His recent article on a research about how much people will ask to marry for money provides some fancy figures:

According to a survey by Prince & Associates, a Connecticut-based wealth-research firm, the average "price" that men and women demand to marry for money these days is $1.5 million.

The survey polled 1,134 people nationwide with incomes ranging between $30,000 to $60,000 (squarely in the median range for nationwide incomes). The survey asked: "How willing are you to marry an average-looking person that you liked, if they had money?"

And then there is more:

The matrimonial price tag varies by gender and age. Asked how much a potential spouse would need to have to be money-marriage material, women in their 20s said $2.5 million. The going rate fell to $1.1 million for women in their 30s, and rose again to $2.2 million for women in their 40s. Ms. Smock and Russ Alan Prince, Prince & Associate's founder, both attribute the fluctuation to the assumption that thirty-something women feel more pressure to get married than women in their 20s, so they are willing to lower the price. By their 40s, women are more comfortable being independent, so they're willing to hold out for more cash.

Men have cheaper requirements. In the Prince survey, their asking price overall was $1.2 million, with men in their 20s asking $1 million and men in their 40s asking $1.4 million.

Of course it is in the moral gray area to really marry for money, but it is fair to say that most people making $30,000 to $60,000 a year won't become a millionaire automatically, so it is understandable that for a seven-figure fortune, people is willing to trade something like, say, beauty. After all, based on how the question was being asked, it is not about putting a dollar figure on a marriage that is doomed to fail -- the pre-condition is you "like" the average-looking guy. At best, it is about "how much money do you need to compensate for the average-looking of your lifetime partner" (vs. a handsome guy or a beautiful blonde).

Question for PFBlog readers: if you are asked to assign a value, how much will you marry for?

P.S. Now we all read about how expensive a rich man's divorce can be, but I don't think there are any studies on how much people will divorce for. If not, I do have a local empirical example that I can share soon in another post. Keep tuned.

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This Post Has Received 2 Comments. Share Your Opinions Too.

TreyD Commented on January 17, 2008

The article makes a good point about how those numbers are surprisingly low given that a million isn't that much money these days. If you read it, they polled women making between $30k-$60k per year (e.g. national median). But like everything money related, it all depends on where you're located. I can tell you for a fact in NYC that number would have to be MUCH MUCH higher. Women in their 30s were saying guys with $1.1MM??? A typical professional in his 30s in NYC is very likely to have well over $1.1MM. That much money wouldn't even come close to impressing women here. I'd say it would start at around $5MM, maybe $3MM if you asked women in Brooklyn and Queens as well.

On another note, I'm really tired of these national median income numbers (around $50k). Its such nonsense. Do you know if they take out teenagers and senior citizens that number goes up to almost $60k since typically its teens and senior citizens that do the very low paying service jobs? Then if you adjust it for other things, like part-time workers, people who aren't working for money (e.g. a lot of non-profit workers), small business owners who hold their money as retained earnings not as income, and so on and so forth ---- essentially to get a truer picture of median income for a typical person -- estimates say it would come out to anywhere between $70k-$90k (for the nationwide median). That's why people think politicians are so disengaged from reality when they talk about helping the middle class and they talks about helping people making $50k - most middle-class median income earners are making well over that much and feel left out. If they want to focus on middle class, they need to focus on households making between $80k-$150k at minimum.

chrisklenk Commented on January 28, 2008

i agree with poster this number would be way higher both for salary and buy-in. however, if you live in nyc, i cannot get over the obvious arbitrage--buy elsewhere! in anycase, i'm surprised men buy in so low.

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