Money matters cause tension for 88% of Millennial couples

By Courtney L. Vien

Being financially literate can help a young person save money, pay down debt, avoid unnecessary expenses, and plan for the future. But there’s another reason Millennials may want to increase their financial acumen: to strengthen their relationships.

According to a new AICPA survey, 88% of Millennial couples say financial decisions are a source of tension in their partnerships. Half say that money matters come between them on a weekly or daily basis.

One reason that money may cause friction for young couples is that not enough of them discuss the role it plays in their relationship. The survey found that only a little over half (56%) of Millennial couples had talked about their individual saving and spending habits. Just over half (51%) had drawn up a monthly budget for their household. Even fewer young couples had talked about their long-term financial goals together (42%), planned a retirement strategy (35%), or made paying off high-interest debt a priority (33%).

Though nearly half of respondents said they and their partner paid an equal share of household expenses, half said that having a partner with different financial habits from their own made saving difficult.

“Financial planning, budgeting, and investing are serious issues that become increasingly complicated and stressful when approached as a couple,” Greg Anton, CPA, CGMA, chairman of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, said in a news release. “We encourage couples to have a serious conversation about their financial hopes and dreams and the steps they need to take to get there.”

The survey, which was conducted by the Ad Council on behalf of the AICPA, polled 500 employed adults ages 25–34 in December 2015.

To reduce the tension that money matters can cause in a relationship, the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission recommends that couples set a regular time each month or quarter to discuss their finances. The commission also suggests that couples:

  • Understand one another’s financial values and beliefs.
  • Get an accurate picture of their financial standing by knowing each other’s salary and credit score.
  • Learn how much debt each partner holds and work together to pay it off.
  • Discuss financial decisions in a neutral, even public, place if they know emotions are going to run high.
  • Visit the “Couples” page on the AICPA’s Feed the Pig website for more advice.

Courtney L. Vien (cvien@aicpa.org) is an associate editor for the AICPA.

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