My old friend John, unannounced as always, popped his head into my office this week. “Hey Rick, do you have a financial form I could borrow?”
“John, we have lots of financial forms. What type do you need?”
“One that shows how much you are worth.”
“Oh, a Personal Financial Statement. Sure, ask Lindsay for one,” I replied.
“Okay, great, got to go,” he said, starting toward the front office.
“John,” I hollered after him, “What do you need it for? Are you applying for a loan?”
“Oh, no. I have a date tonight and I need to give it to her so I know if I should bother asking her out a second time.”
While this interchange was fictional, the probability of going on a date armed with one’s net worth statement may not be that remote. This conclusion is based on a recent survey, reported in The Wall Street Journal, done by Prince & Associates, a Connecticut wealth research firm. It found that marrying for money is given more serious consideration than most of us may have thought.
The survey asked over 1,100 participants, who earned $30,000 to $60,000 a year, this question: “How willing are you to marry an average looking person that you liked (emphasis added), if they had money?”
Of women in their 30’s, 74% said they were “extremely” or “very” willing to marry for money over love or appearance. Men in their 20’s were more romantic, with only 41% saying they would marry for money. Apparently, money becomes increasingly important to men as they age, as 61% of those in their 40’s said they would throw love out the window in favor of the balance sheet.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if I were a single person over forty who had accumulated a little nest egg, knowing that two out of three people I dated would marry for money over love would give me food for serious thought.
This leads me to another interesting aspect of the survey. What does “having money” look like? The survey found it varies by gender and age. For women in their 20’s, the price tag at which love and looks go out the window is $2.5 million. For women in their 40’s, the price tag is just a tad lower at $2.3 million. But for women in their 30’s, the price drops dramatically to $1.1 million. When I mentioned to my wife my surprise at 30-something women being willing to settle for less, she said it made perfect sense. “Women in their 30’s are very aware of their biological clocks ticking.”
Interestingly, love and physical appearance are more important to men. Yet for them, the financial threshold where love and looks go out the window is considerably lower at $1 million to $1.4 million.
The good news—I think—is that those surveyed who would marry for money had no illusions about their chances for a long and satisfying marital experience. Of women in their 20s, 71% said they would expect to get divorced. I wonder if they meant “planned” to get divorced. If a person marries strictly for money, after all, it would seem to be a reasonable game plan to endure the relationship for the minimum period of time required before filing for divorce and walking away with half of the assets.
While the poll didn’t ask, I would guess most people would agree that marrying someone you were physically attracted to and in love with—who just happened to have money—would be the preferable scenario for a healthy and happy marriage.
Still, it makes me thankful I am happily married instead of dating.