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Financial Myths About Marriage: Debunking Blissful Misconceptions

Finance

So you've found the love of your life – but now it's time to combine bank accounts. As much as a marriage is about creating a lasting bond with the person you love, it's also important to remember that a marriage is a business partnership. Sharing your life with someone means sharing every part of it, including your financial situation. There are a lot of misconceptions about the financial ramifications of marriage, and it's time to learn what's true and what's not.


Myth: Getting Married Always Improves Your Tax Situation

We've all heard people joke that they're just going to get married for the tax benefits. Without a doubt, married couples filing jointly do often see more benefits than those filing separately. Couples typically have lower income tax liability, the standard deduction generally is higher and you may apply for other tax benefits that don't apply to single filers. However, there are still certain situations in which filing separately may be the best option. It is important to remember that filing jointly means you are jointly responsible for any interest or penalties incurred by your spouse. You may consider filing separately if you feel as though your spouse is filing inaccurately or dishonestly or is having too little federal tax withheld from their paychecks. If one spouse has higher medical expenses, it may also be a good idea to file separately. Keep in mind, however, that those filing separately are not eligible for many of the benefits joint filers receive, like the Earned Income Credit and education credits, and only one spouse may claim a child as a dependent.

"Communication with your partner is vital when it comes to being financially successful as a married couple" - Leslie Tayne

Myth: Married Couples Have To Have Joint Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

If your spouse is carrying a lot of credit card debt, it may best to maintain separate accounts and pool your resources so you can avoid becoming legally responsible for their debt, which can also affect your credit score. While this may not be the most romantic move, it can be financially beneficial to both of you in the long run. If you do wish to have a joint credit card and your partner is carrying debt, open a new card together instead of adding your name to one of their existing accounts.

Myth: You Can Maintain Complete Financial Independence Once You're Married

There are misconceptions on both sides of the coin here. Many people go into marriage thinking that they are going to be able to keep all of their money separate from their partner's and that that will work out just fine. Most likely, this won't be the case. Married couples have to make a lot of financial decisions together, even if they are pulling from separate accounts. Holding on too tightly to the idea of “my money" may lead to conflict with you and your partner somewhere down the line. While you can certainly maintain some of your independence – and may want to if your partner has a bad credit history – it's important to realize that the big decisions should be a team effort.

"There are endless benefits to being married – including financial perks. Being educated on how marriage will change your money situation can help you find your financial happy ever after" - Leslie Tayne

Myth: Being Married Improves Your Credit Score

In the same vein, combining your finances with your partner's does not necessarily mean your credit score will improve. Both of you will continue to carry your own individual credit score, even if you combine your accounts. Any debt of your own that you carry will continue to affect your score regardless of how well your joint accounts are doing. However, having your name added as an account holder on your spouse's account that is not in good standing will have a negative effect on your credit score. Additionally, any accounts or loans you may try to open together will take both of your scores into consideration.

Myth: You Should Open New Credit Cards If You Change Your Name

It is a common misconception that you must cancel any credit cards bearing your former name if you change it once you get married. This is simply not true – you can contact your credit card company and have your name changed on the account, and they will send you a new card with your new name. Keeping credit cards open, particularly ones with positive credit history will be in your best interest.

"As much as a marriage is about creating a lasting bond with the person you love, it's also important to remember that a marriage is a business partnership. Sharing your life with someone means sharing every part of it, including your financial situation" - Leslie Tayne

Myth: Talking About Finances Will Ruin Your Relationship

Talking about money can often be an uncomfortable subject, mainly if you fear you may have differing opinions about finances than your partner and feel as though broaching the topic may lead to conflict. However, avoiding the issue will only lead to trouble. Talking openly and honestly about your financial situation, spending habits and savings goals will only serve to strengthen your relationship and allow you and your partner to make well-thought-out decisions that will benefit both of you. If you make money talk a regular, everyday part of your relationship, you will be better equipped to address disagreement if it does in fact arise.

"Talking openly and honestly about your financial situation, spending habits and savings goals will only serve to strengthen your relationship and allow you and your partner to make well-thought-out decisions that will benefit both of you." - Leslie Tayne

Communication with your partner is vital when it comes to being financially successful as a married couple. If you have had credit problems in the past, be honest with your spouse about how it could affect your situation. If your spouse has had credit problems, be open about your concerns and consider how their financial history could affect your own standing. There are endless benefits to being married – including financial perks. Being educated on how marriage will change your money situation can help you find your financial happy ever after.

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Lifestyle

Going Makeupless To The Office May Be Costing You More Than Just Money

Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.


Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.

Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.

As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.

Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.

So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.

Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.

For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."