Talking about finances with your loved ones often leads to heated words. In fact, according to research from mutual insurer Royal London, money is the most common cause of arguments between couples, with 62% of those who argue with their partner disagreeing over money. Couples find it easier talking about childcare, sex or even household chores than money.
Couples quarrel about most aspects of their finances from how much they earn to their levels of debt, but it’s what their other half spends that causes the most friction. There are also fundamental differences when it comes to expectations of each other and how they view their partner’s behaviour. A third (33%) of couples confess not seeing eye to eye, admitting that when it comes to spending and saving, they’re simply incompatible.
Attitudes towards money also stir up strong emotions, with couples taking a dim view of their other half. One in four (24%) couples consider their partner irresponsible with money. A fifth (20%) of people who don’t think their partner is responsible with money keep a secret savings pot.
And when it comes to managing money jointly, three quarters of couples (76%) decide to keep some or all their banking separate from their partner. Around a third (35%) keep all their money in separate accounts, while just 24% of couples hold everything in a joint account.
Sarah Pennells, Consumer Finance Specialist at Royal London, says:
“Most couples hate talking about money and find it a hard subject to discuss according to our survey. However, while it may not seem like the most romantic topic, if you don’t talk about what you each want from your finances and how to manage your money, it’s likely to result in more friction and arguments.
“Because we don’t tend to talk about money, one partner can assume that their way of managing their money is the ‘right’ way, and not understand why the other doesn’t take the same view. So, the key to a more harmonious relationship is to talk about your finances and agree a way that works for both of you, even if it involves some compromise.
“It’s also important not to let financial concerns simmer beneath the surface. Being more open with one another about money and financial goals will also help couples to build a financially secure future.
“Facing uncomfortable conversations can help ensure a better relationship with money and each other.”
Why talking about money can improve your finances
- Set time aside to talk about your finances properly, as it may help both of you gain better control of your spending. It may feel a bit odd at first, but it should reduce stress and friction in the long term. Set some short-term goals (money in a savings account so you can pay for any emergencies), but don’t ignore long term goals as well (paying off your mortgage, when you want to retire etc).
- Agree how you will split household bills. This is particularly important if one of you earns more than other. Some people automatically assume it will be 50:50, no matter how big the pay gap, so it’s worth clarifying before the bills mount up.
- Be open about any debts you have, especially if you have a joint bank account or joint loans. As soon as you take out a joint loan, mortgage or current account with an overdraft facility, your credit rating will affect your partner’s and vice versa – even if you’re applying for credit in one name only. So, if you’re hiding debt from your partner, not only could it affect your relationship, but it could also affect your ability to get a mortgage, car finance or even a pay-monthly phone contract. It may be a hard conversation to start, but tackling these issues together might also take a weight off your mind.
- Decide how you’d like to manage your money. In relationships, tasks can sometimes be divided without couples realising. You don’t necessarily have to make every single decision together – although you can if that suits you – but make sure you’re both involved.
- Decide whether you want to keep your money separate or pool it in joint accounts. There are pros and cons to each approach. If you have a joint account there’s more transparency about your finances, but the bank can pursue either of you for the full amount of any debt or overdraft, regardless of who ran up the debt or used the overdraft.
- Keep talking. Your circumstances may change or you may feel like you want different things from your finances – and your life. So, keep talking about money and try to address any issues early on, before they become big problems.