Is love really all you need? According to a recent survey, couples say they ultimately don’t care how much money their partner makes, but having the “money talk” does help.
In the spirit of love this month, Personal Capital polled over 1,000 Americans to learn how couples view money in their relationships. Turns out JLo was right that “love don’t cost a thing,” as 79% of respondents said they’re happy and in love no matter how much money their partner has.
But talking about money is hard - especially with a significant other - and as we all know too well, money can bring a lot of anxiety and stress. Sharing how much you make to your partner can open up a lot of personal information that some may not want to share right off the bat. Can you imagine your over-dinner conversations starting with something like this: “Uh, sooo...we just met, but can you tell me how much your after-tax paycheck is each month??”
So we were curious how many couples have had the “money talk” within their first year of meeting each other? And surprisingly, results showed that quite a lot actually have had “the talk.” About 56% have, over half of our respondents!
Read below to learn more about why talking about finances can bring you closer as a couple.
Love + Money - The Good and The Bad
While a pretty strong majority of those we surveyed stated that they’re happy in their relationship regardless of how much money they have, money is still a major source of stress in a lot of people’s lives. Of the 1,000 people we polled for this survey, more than half (57%) of these respondents agree that money is the biggest cause of anxiety in their life, and more often than not, talking about money with their significant other is a stressful conversation for many (53%).
In fact, 35% of respondents in a committed relationship have hidden details of financial decisions from their significant other to avoid conflict.
Finally, a quarter (25%) noted that being with their significant other has had a negative impact on their financial responsibility.
“Secrets in a relationship can lead to tension and break the trust between the couple,” says Lacey Cobb CFP & Director at Personal Capital. “No matter how hard it is to talk about money with your partner, it’s better to let it all out in the open and figure it out together. One way to create an open dialogue is to have both a joint account and a separate individual account -- this will help provide constant transparency while allowing you flexibility and privacy -- not to be confused with secrecy.”
Let’s Talk About Money Honey
Let’s be honest...talking about money can be uncomfortable. It’s often an emotionally-charged conversation, especially when it comes to your SO. Money is so intertwined with our lifestyles, our futures, and our personal goals. So while it may be awkward to talk about, having “the money talk” with your partner is incredibly important. And it’s crucial to start having these conversations early to avoid disagreements or potentially an ever bigger problem of realizing you have wildly different financial philosophies down the road.
Luckily, it seems like a good amount of people are talking about money relatively early on their relationships. Over half of respondents (56%) have the 'the money talk' - ie discussing your individual and or joint finances - within the first year of their relationship.
So, couples do talk about money, but on an ongoing basis, it’s also important to keep the conversation open. For example, when it comes to spending, what amount of cash warrants the need to consult your partner? 30% of people said the most expensive items they have purchased without consulting their significant other was $100 or less. Meanwhile almost a quarter (24%) hold out for $101-500, but 5% are like Real Housewives’ Kyle Richards and wait until the item is $10,000+.
“Conversations about money are never easy, but they are important to have for transparency in your relationship and financial empowerment,” says Cobb. “Every relationship is different, but deciding upfront about who should foot certain bills or and come clean about your financial strengths and weaknesses will lead to a united front on money matters. It’s your decision when to have the chat, but if it is a topic that keeps coming up - it is time to address it.”
The conversations you have with your partner will depend on where you’re at in your relationship, and while you should be transparent about your finances and your philosophy around money early, being transparent doesn’t mean you have to show your partner your tax returns. It can just mean being honest about things like your budget for eating out or taking long weekend trips will help make sure you’re able to enjoy time with your partner without stressing about your bottom line. When it gets more serious and you’re ready to discuss your finances more in depth, being transparent and honest about your financial goals will be critical to setting your relationship up for success.
So money is clearly a big stressor in relationships, but it’s also something that a good amount of our survey respondents are talking about on a regular basis. So what does it look like when couples team up to handle their finances together.
Our survey shows that teamwork does indeed make the dream work. 68% of people in a committed relationship stated that they worked with their partner to help each other pay off individual debt.
And when it comes to how money is divided and shared with significant others, 72% of committed couples say that they share accounts. More specifically, 34% exclusively have shared accounts and 39% have a mix of both shared and personal accounts.
How does the thought of teaming up on finances with a partner make people feel? It turns out that joining forces can be soothing and bring couples closer together. Almost half of people in a relationship shared that the thought of combining finances with their significant other makes them feel more confident about their finances (47%) and more confident in their relationship (49%).
Lacey says, “Make financial planning into a date. Pour some wine and put on your favorite tunes and do this together. Start by listing out your financial goals together, whether that’s paying off debt, buying a home in 5 years, or going on a well-earned vacation. Once you’re both on the same page on goals, then you can start budgeting and planning towards those goals. Also, remind and encourage each other along the way to make decisions that help you get closer to your goals.”
It’s a little bit of a mixed bag when it comes to how we feel about money in our relationships. We talk about it with our partners, yet it’s still the #1 stressor in our lives. Yet, managing money as a team makes us feel better about not only our finances, but our relationship in general.
Whichever way you slice it, money is an important part of relationships, and staying open and on the same page with your partner can really set you up for long-term success in your relationship.
For more on how to discuss money with your significant other, check out some of our related articles.
- How to Talk to Your Partner About Money at Any Stage in Your Relationship
- For Richer or Poorer: Are You Ignoring the Business Side of Your Relationship?
- Financial Considerations for Same Sex Couples
The Love & Money survey was conducted online among a demographically representative sample of 1,005 U.S. adults, comprising 503 men and 502 women 18 years of age and older. The survey was administered June 17-19, 2019 by ENGINE INSIGHTS’ Online CARAVAN® for Personal Capital. Data is statistically weighted by age, gender, geographic region, education and race to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population, 18 years of age and older.