Men have no idea how expensive being married is.
A reader recently reminded me of a post I made on a forum many years ago about a budget I once did shortly before my divorce. I’m going to explain what I did and what I learned. The results may surprise you.
About ten years ago, way back when I was married, I was in my final year of marriage and I started to realize that a divorce might actually happen. Being the beta male I was back then, I panicked. All those scary thoughts went through my head, the same thoughts most married men have when they think of divorce.
What if she takes my kids away from me and I never see them again? Oh no!
What if she takes all my money, leaving me with nothing? Horror!
What if she destroys my business I worked so hard to build? Aaaah!
What if I have to go work for McDonalds? OMG!
In order to calm down and get some rationality and objectivity, I fired up my trusty Microsoft Excel and extrapolated two hypothetical budgets. This was very easy, because I practice what I preach, and I had a detailed monthly budget of personal/family income and expenses that was very accurate from which to draw figures.
The first hypothetical budget was if my wife at the time vanished into thin air. Not that I got divorced, and not that she died or anything like that. It was a monthly budget that would be in place if she simply vanished, or if she was abducted by aliens, never to return. How would her absence change my monthly expenses?
I started going down the monthly expense line items. The first item at the top was my second biggest expense outside of taxes (which is always your biggest expense, because of this wonderful quasi-socialist, big-government world we live in). It was “house payment.”
At the time, I lived in a 3500 square foot, five bedroom, and three-car garage house on the top of the hill in the third most expensive neighborhood in the entire state. My monthly house payment was massive. It was beyond my comfort zone and I experienced a lot of stress every month trying to pay it on time.
The question was: If the wife was suddenly gone, would I continue to live here?
The answer was hell no. I would immediately sell that damn monster house and move into a modest three-bedroom house in a far less expensive neighborhood. (Which, by the way, is exactly what I did when I got divorced.) The only reason I was in that giant house was to satisfy the wife’s Disney desires. I couldn’t have cared less.
So I cut the “house payment” figure down to a much smaller number that would represent my new, smaller, cheaper house.
The next item on the list was my car payment. That wouldn’t change if the wife vanished, so I went onto the next item which was her car payment. If she vanished, I would of course sell the car and get rid of that, so I made that item zero.
The next item was monthly groceries. As an upper middle class family of four with the wife in charge of all groceries, this was a staggeringly huge number. She would often go grocery shopping with the kids and allow them to throw damn near whatever they wanted in the shopping cart. She would also regularly over-serve the kids with too much food, so just about every breakfast, lunch, and dinner she would throw lots of food away uneaten.
Would this happen if she was gone and I was in charge of groceries? Fuck no. The kids would have very little say in the junk food I would buy them, and I would only serve them in amounts they could eat so there would be little or no wastage. I would also go out of my way to shop at cheaper grocery stores, something the wife did usually but not always. So the grocery figure got knocked down.
On and on I went, through every item in my monthly budget, usually adjusting figures downward rather than upward.
What about income? Well, despite being a beta male at the time, I was living the right-wing Alpha Male 1.0’s dream at that point. I was a high-income, self-employed man with a full time, stay at home mom as a wife. She made no money, so there would be no income lost if she left. Just expenses.
What about child care? Surely if I suddenly had no wife, I would have to pay someone to watch my kids, right? Well, sort of. I was working at home by that time, had a flexible schedule and the kids spent most of their day in school. My family would also help out watching the kids if needed. So some childcare would have to be budgeted for, but not much. I made sure to account for this in this hypothetical budget.
When I was all done, I finally had a total amount of money that I would save per month if the wife vanished. I don’t remember exactly what that figure was, but the number was HUGE. I think it was around $3,600 per month. $3,600 per month that I would save by not being married.
I was floored. I had no idea that being married was this expensive. I went through and double-checked my numbers. No change.
This was one of the events in my life that really made me re-evaluate what marriage meant. Could I really save $3,600 a month just by being single? Even as a single dad with two kids? It was almost unbelievable.
I suppose one could make the argument that if I was a big bad Alpha Male 1.0 at the time, I could have waved an iron fist and forbidden the wife from spending all that damn money, and that’s probably true to a degree. I still would have been spending a hell of a lot. I know penalty of married Alpha Male 1.0s and they spent shitloads of cash on their wives too.
Okay, I was only half done. Now it was time for my second hypothetical budget. For this budget, I painted the absolute worst case scenario. I pretended that we got divorced, and my attorney was a moron and her attorney was a genius. I pretended that the judge assigned to our case was a rabid, man-hating feminist who gave the wife literally everything she asked for and literally nothing I asked for. I made a monthly budget that assumed that I got financially raped in the divorce, across the board, using real-life possible numbers for debts, alimony, child support, and other expenses that I had acquired earlier from two divorce attorneys I had spoken to.
How would things look? This budget was much faster to come up with. It was simply some tweaking of the existing numbers from the “wife vanishes” spreadsheet and my original budget, and adding in some big expenses.
When I was done, I compared the total new expenses from the “rape divorce” spreadsheet to the “wife vanishes” spreadsheet.
I was shocked to find that the new monthly expenses I would incur from a horrible divorce were much lower than the amount of money I would save by not being married.
Again, I didn’t believe it. I went back and checked the numbers on both spreadsheets. Once again the numbers were clear. I don’t remember the exact figures, but the amount of new monthly expenses I would incur by going through the worst possible divorce were still far less than the amount of money I would save by no longer having or living with a wife.
In other words, even in the worst possible scenario, I would save money by getting divorced.
This didn’t account for legal costs of the divorce, or assets that I might loose in the divorce, but I figured at least 50% of those assets would go to pay her expenses anyway if we stayed married forever, which I’m sure they would have.
Suddenly I wasn’t quite as afraid of getting divorced. I had no idea I was spending so much money being married in the first place, and this fact changed everything, at least financially.
It came to pass that of course I did get divorced, and the actual divorce was no big deal. I ended up paying far less than my worst case scenario spreadsheet. I’ve seen a few people over the years say something like, “The only reason Blackdragon is against marriage because he got raped in a divorce.” Simply untrue. My divorce was very routine, very standard, with nothing unusual or horrible. Sure, I had to pay alimony, but compared to what I make it was no big deal, and I paid it off quite a while ago. My divorce was nothing like what many other divorced men went through. No massive legal bills. We had no custody battle or any of that stuff. She was pissed off, just like all wives are when they go through a divorce, but there was nothing out of the ordinary.
Moreover, once the temporary pain of the divorce was over, I was the happiest I had ever been in my life. Despite the temporary pain and financial expense, it was a win. A big one.
Sure, during that 1-2 years of the divorce, things were troublesome and chaotic, no question. But that was almost 10 years ago. Today I’m far, FAR beyond the monthly financial status I had during my marriage. I shudder to think how much financial stress I would still have if I had never gotten divorced. I am quite sure I would look about 15 years older than I do right now. To say nothing about being less fulfilled and happy.
For any of you married guys reading this, I would strongly recommend doing a hypothetical budget of how much money you would save if you weren’t married any more. Societal Programming hammers into us that having a wife somehow “saves you money” (because you don’t have to pay for a maid or daycare or something). Alright then, test that theory with real numbers. Do that budget. Once you do it, even if your wife brings in income, I think most of you would be very surprised how much money it’s costing you every month to keep that little lady around.
Men have no idea how expensive being married is.