Guest Post: Could you ever marry for money? - Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Guest Post: Could you ever marry for money?

NOTE: Today’s guest post is from Harri Pierce. She is a personal finance blogger, and the Online Community Manager at TotallyMoney Blogs.

Remember that infamous ‘gold digger’ Craigslist ad? Let me jog your memory. A twenty-five year old self-described ‘spectacularly beautiful’ woman posted an ad for ‘a guy who makes at least half a million a year’ on the classified listings site. Not fussy about her potential partner’s intelligence, sense of humour, interests, or values, the ‘sassy’ woman requested advice about where these eligible bachelors socialized, ‘tips’ from wealthy men’s wives, the correct ‘age range’ and career choice she should be ‘targeting’, and bemoaned the ‘plain Janes’ she saw on the arms of bankers and corporate lawyers.

To cap it all off, she spelt out in no uncertain terms that this wasn’t going to be a short fling. She was ‘looking for MARRIAGE ONLY’.

The ad and a banker’s witty response bounded around the blogosphere and we all had a good laugh about it. How could this woman be so shallow? Marrying for money? Pah! We’re enlightened now, right? We’re career-driven. We ladies make our own money, and we marry for love.

So imagine my disappointment when a well-respected British newspaper quipped that most women secretly want to pack it in, cop off with a fat cat and spend our days doing pilates. This wasn’t the wistful dream of a haggard journalist eying up her shoulder pads with regret. According to research from the London School of Economics, for most women in 2011, shacking up with a wealthy man is a bigger deal than having a successful career. Modern women see marriage ‘as an alternative or supplement to their employment careers.’

That’s exactly how Elizabeth Ford and Daniela Drake, authors of the book ‘Smart Girls Marry Money’ see it too. They believe ladies have been duped into romantic idealism. If they had it their way, young women should be shacking up with wealthy men before anything starts to even think about sagging. They term this the ‘Gold Digging Imperative’. Instead of looking for love, we should be looking for financial security. If your wealthy hubby ups and leaves you, which the authors glibly seem to think is inevitable, then at least you’ll walk away with a healthy bank balance.

So much for Girl Power and Ally McBeal. Those cultural influences on our earlier selves were cultivating a myth. Apparently we should forget love, throw our careers to the wind, slap on the lipstick and hurl ourselves at passing investment bankers.

I think not.

In my view, successful relationships are built on shared values, interests and mutual respect; three elements which a money-driven marriage lacks. Marrying for money makes you a commodity; a product, or worse a service, at the owner’s disposal. Ford and Drake think we should see marriage as a ‘deal’ where a man pays for his lady’s looks. And it is a deal. As the Craiglist banker puts it, a ‘crappy business deal’. The woman is a depreciating asset, less valuable to her owner over time, as her attributes fade. What a dismal prospect!

So excuse me while I don’t loiter provocatively in Wall Street bars or pull the plug on my career.  When it comes to marriage, I’d rather not sell myself short.

Be honest – could you ever see yourself marrying for money? 

About Krystal Yee

I'm a writer, personal finance blogger, and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I'm a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner's Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I'm not working, you can usually find me running, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.

36 comments

  1. Definitely not. But I could do the opposite – consider calling it quits if he was a financial disaster.

    • I definitely agree. While I don’t think I could marry for money, I would definitely walk away from someone who was a financial idiot. He doesn’t have to be as into personal finance as me (and I’m not sure if that even exists), but he does have to have a grasp on basic personal finance concepts (or the willingness to learn and understand), and have the same general financial goals as me.

  2. I can honestly say no as I married my university sweetheart (and I can tell you we were definitely both broke with student debt and not secret millionaires).

    I have a hard time seeing what the difference is of marrying for money without any concern for mutual values/attraction/goals etc. and being an escort-perhaps just the longevity of the contract.

  3. Never! Those articles are offensive, and no doubt written (or inspired) by men. When I graduate, I’ll likely be making more than my boyfriend. I’m fine with that. Luckily, he’ll be fine with that. I would never pair up with somebody I wasn’t in love with just because he had money.

  4. I wouldn’t. I definitely wouldn’t be happy. And I make more money than every guy my age that I know.

  5. Gosh no! My bf and I met when we both made the same meager amount at an entry-level job. He makes more than me now but it wouldn’t make a difference if he didn’t. I just joke about buying me more gifts :)

  6. “Marrying for money makes you a commodity; a product, or worse a service, at the owner’s disposal.”

    This is a well written post and I couldn’t agree more with your view. Personally I wouldn’t marry for money. The bf’s dad is wealthy and usually dates beautiful younger women. He recently divorced wife #3. Before the divorce, when the marriage was falling apart, I could definitely see the desperation in the wife’s face. She was depressed and whenever I talked to her I can see that she felt helpless anticipating her fate – she is a powerless pawn in her relationhip, and was basically discarded because she passed her best-before date. It’s a crude way of putting things, but that’s how I see the relationship. The man moved onto a woman 10 years her junior now, I just hope that he doesn’t do the same thing to his new romantic interest.

    • Thanks so much Krystal for posting this up! Loving the marrying for love sentiment here folks!

      @My money, my life I really hope your BF’s father’s ex-wife finds someone who truly appreciates her. Nobody should ever see themselves as past their best-before date. A good vintage, I’d say instead.

      @Little Miss Moneybags I agree that marrying for love is a fairly recent phenomenon. Still I think there’s a lot to be said for shacking up with someone who shares your values and outlook. Often attitudes to life and attitudes to money can be closely aligned.

      @financialanarchist I agree- I think ‘Smart Girls Marry Money’ was designed to cause a bit of a stir, so it’s probably more than a tad exaggerated. I also agree that respect is so unbelievably important for a successful relationship.

      Thanks once again everyone!

  7. Sure, I could do it – if he was really old.

    In other words, I couldn’t do it if I actually had to live through a lifetime with a person that I didn’t love. Knowing now what marriage means, I would have a much harder time committing my entire life to anything less than what Peanut offers me. It’s sort of like how scientists think that babies are cute so that adults will take care of them – in my mind, a marriage has to have love and happy times at the beginning to help you get through the tough times that will inevitably come.

    On the other hand, we (meaning modern women) only feel that we need to marry for love because that’s what we’ve been brought up to expect. Not that long ago, marriage was frequently a political or financial arrangement, and love played no part in it. Had I been brought up to expect that my marriage would be an alliance rather than a love match, no doubt money would be one of the first requirements on my list.

    • Interesting insight, and you do bring up a really good point. In other cultures, marriage is often considered a business/political/financial union between two people. I totally agree that if I were brought up in that sort of environment, money would probably be the #1 requirement for me.

  8. I think that “Smart Girls Marry Money” book was a bit sensationalist.

    What they probably meant under the exaggerated messages was to marry someone that can hold down a decent job and/or is financially responsible.

    Do NOT marry that incredibly sexy but broke loser who bums bus fare off of you.

    On the other hand, a friend of mine married a hedgefunder who left her for an intern, mortgaged their townhouse and up and left with the money while she was on a business trip overseas. She does not receive alimony. She had to start over from scratch. Sure, she may have had a case to fight him for $$ but that’s not her personality, not to mention the financial strain of lawyers.

    Conclusion: marrying rich does not guarantee you won’t be left in the gutter. So, marry someone you “love” and respect, who is also financially responsible and not a douche.

    Oh, and have a secret bank account somewhere.

  9. Even if I wasn’t already settled down with my boyfriend, I definately would go looking for someone rich. My career is a huge goal in my life because it’s my dream and something I want to do. I plan on making my millions on my own skills. And I wouldn’t mind if I was my boyfriend’s sugar mama vs the other way around :P

  10. no, I wouldn’t/didn’t marry for money. However, I would be naive not to admit that industriousness and money management play a role in making someone a more attractive partner.

  11. On a personal level, I would not marry someone specifically for their money. But I would consider not marrying someone if they were completely irresponsible with money – but I think that would signal deeper value-clashes more than anything else.

    Chastising others for their reasons for marrying feels a little uncomfortable to me. Especially in other cultures, women don’t exactly have the opportunities to get a career or the freedom to marry solely for love. I’m probably in the minority, but I see feminism as the ability for women to choose anything they want – and some woman may just want to marry some old rich dude and live like a princess. It’s not something I would ever choose or advocate for young girls, but if they choose that path, its their prerogative.

  12. I would definately use a good job or having money as a reason to go on a date with someone and give them a chance. But if they were not fun to be around, didnt make me laugh, and didnt make me feel comfortable I would be done with them :)

  13. I don’t believe in marrying just for money nor in marrying just for love. When Mike and I started dating, I was in college and he was in his first job out of college which didn’t pay very well. But I knew he was a smart guy and he had the potential to make enough money for us to be comfortable and that is the reason I started dating him. I don’t see anything wrong in looking for someone who is smart, funny and rich while dating. And it works the other way too, men look for women who have a college degree and a good job.

  14. Historically, biologically, etc… at every time in history except for the present where women are starting to become more educated and outearn men, women have ALWAYS married “up,” or at least laterally, and only in modern times has the idea of marrying for “love” been even a concept that anyone really seriously considered.

    It so happens I specifically looked for people with at least my level of education, career ambition, and earning potential. Within that smaller pool I found someone whose values/ideals/whatever else were aligned with mine, “fell in love” with him, and got married. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. If I’d ignored the rest and went for someone who didn’t have a college degree, or didn’t have an interest in earning a good living, I doubt I could have had a happy marriage… not *just* for the money (although I have no interest in supporting a house-husband), but where would those aligned values come from?

    • I definitely agree with you Amber. When I look for a partner, it’s not just about whether you’re physically attracted to them, or if they are kind or can make you laugh. I also look for the same general level of education, ambition, earning potential, and financial values. Those are things that are important to me (and they will not change), and I don’t think I could spend the rest of my life with someone who didn’t feel the same way.
      That being said, I don’t think I’d specifically look for someone who made a lot of money, and it wouldn’t be a deciding factor for me either. As long as he had drive and ambition, and understands the concept of good personal finance management, along with all of the other personal qualities I look for, it wouldn’t matter to me if he makes $40k or $400k.

      • That’s fair, although I definitely would be happier if he made $400K than $40K. ;) Life is just easier that way. I don’t think it would be as much of a factor, though, if you were talking about $200K versus $100K. $40K is hard to have a family on (even if you double it because both people were making $40K)… of course, it aligns with my values that part of my partner’s drive should be towards the goal of providing for his family (not that I don’t also provide, but… you know).

  15. I can’t see myself every marrying for money but I think it happens more often than one would expect. My husband and I joke that we wish we met before or while I was in school so I wouldn’t have to go into so much debt and pay a ton of interest.

  16. Anyone who responded to the ad and agreed to marry for looks clearly shares the same values. (Superficiality) so it would probably be a better match than you’d expect.

    I personally wouldn’t marry just for the money though.

  17. I think that being readers of your website, we’re a bit of a biased sample :) I will say though that financial security is nice to have, but if you don’t really love and appreciate your partner then you won’t be even remotely satisfied with the life you’ve created together.

    I’d never date someone who was irresponsible with money. If you can’t handle basic money skills, what else won’t you be able to handle? Financial literacy is part of being a responsible adult.

  18. I married for love. I have been married for 33 years. I actually made a list of 10 thing I wanted in a man. My husband had all 10. Smart, handsome, my religion, no smoking, no drinking, older than me by a few years, college degree, musical, kind, funny. I got it all. But two weeks after we married I realized he did not have a good work ethic. He still has all of these wonderful qualities and I have worked like a dog for 33 years dragging him kicking and screaming behind me. If I ever got the opportunity to marry again it would only be for MONEY. If my hubby was to pass away, I would never marry again, because I don’t want to support someone. I want the freedom to come and go. But If I did marry again they would have to be filthy rich. I have three daughters and I have told them to married up and only for money. Shallow as that may sound I know the other side of the coin and it ain’t fun.

    • Experience is the toughest teacher. I concur with your statement that if possible, marry for money. I actually think it would help a marriage if money was a non issue.

  19. I once hears an excellent quote on this subject, “when you marry for money you earn every penny.” I agree wholeheartedly. I wouldnt trade the love and support I get from my husband of 10 years for a bigger paycheque.

  20. I won’t be marrying for money — as my boyfriend who currently earns $15k per year with a college degree aspires to turn to get a masters degree to be a school teacher — but a part of me, deep down, wants to find a rich husband to supplement my income. I’m earning $100k currently, and I’d like to marry someone who matches my income level. Where I live, a decent, basic house costs $1M or more, so it’s important to marry someone who earns a reasonable income. Of course, I also spend my days around some very well off people, and it’s quite possible if I weren’t deep in a relationship with someone who earns a low income, I could put myself out there to meet a man who made bank in an acquisition or IPO. Even my good friend who works part time is dating a man who works at Google, and who bought them both a house, and while he’s not super rich, she’ll always be taken care of. Meanwhile, I know for the rest of my life it’s up to me to bring home the bacon and then some. While I like the challenge without kids, I’m terrified of what that means when I have a family. It almost makes me want to give in and just marry for money, but I know I wouldn’t be happy then… I’m going to marry for love.

  21. @AMD: This is one of the most hilarious CL ads i have encountered so far! What i like is the honestly of that girl, i know she is either nuts or stupid, but aleast she had the guts to accept the fact that yes, she wants marry a millionaire only!!

  22. I am amused with the ad, she is literally showing how low and shallow she is. I hate it that these situations create a bad impression to women. Though not all, marrying for money is accepting that marriage is just temporary. A woman is considering herself as an asset that in time will depreciate. I can earn money on my own and what I need is someone I can relate and spend my life with.

  23. Dating a banker, if anything, makes life more complicated. My bf is a banker and sometimes, I wish he was a teacher or an engineer. From the beginning, I asserted myself as an independent and equal in the relationship, making sure to try and offer to pay for every other dinner out, etc.

    However, that can be difficult, because he lives downtown, and it gets expensive. He is able to afford nice trips around the world, and nice clothes, and any tech toy that he wants, and sometimes I feel left behind. I make less than a third of what he makes, and as such, our lifestyles and money management techniques are completely different.

    But I love him, which is why I’m dating him. Not for money. If anything, the fact that he makes so much can be infuriating, because he doesn’t have to scrimp like I do.

    However, before getting on the bandwagon about how shallow sugarbabies are, I’d like to point out a couple modern myths that are consistently perpetuated through a variety of media: a) From the time that we start watching Disney, women are educated that being beautiful, sweet, and docile will win you the heart of a prince, who is handsome, loaded, and is in possession of the most expensive piece of real estate in the kingdom, b) Rappers and “ballers” love to spend money on their “shorties” who like to wear their apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur while getting low, and c) Magazine ads depicting young, hot women modeling Prada and Gucci, even though said young women should never be able to afford designer wear unless they are a sugarbaby or born wealthy.

    At least this girl is honest. But it also speaks of a deeper level of social programming. Because I’ll be honest too … it was only in my late late teens that I came to terms with the fact that I was probably not going to wind up in a fancy home compliments of a modern Prince Charming, and instead, sisters ought to do it for themselves.

    In conclusion, I blame society.

  24. Yes I would marry for money

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