Couples Cash Report: Just How Many Couples Fight About Money? And How Can You Prevent It?

The new couples cash report also revealed one third of people in a relationship (30%) don’t feel at all comfortable talking to their partner about money.

What’s your money personality?

Take quiz
Couples fighting about money

Money in relationships can often cause conflict but just how many of us are arguing about it? We surveyed 1,255 people based in the US who are in long-term, committed relationships to see how their bank account is affecting their relationship.

The pressure to spend

Those in relationships had an average of $19,865 in savings, while those who were not only had $14,377 stashed. We discovered 1 in 3 men (36%) agreed that they felt pressured to spend more by their partner, while only 1 in 4 women (26%) agreed to feeling pressured. Those who disagreed were nearly evenly split between men (54%) and women (45%). However, financial inequality in relationships is common and could be a reason why partners are feeling the pressure.

As expected, it was those who earned the highest annual household income that felt pressured to spend more, with those earning over $95,000 a year agreeing (34%). One trend that was spotted was that the older the person was, the less likely they were to feel pressured to spend more as naturally spending becomes tighter.

Having the money talk

The new couples cash report also revealed one third of people in a relationship (30%) don’t feel at all comfortable talking to their partner about money, and 1 in 7 (14%) agreeing that they would rather talk about their sex life than money with their partner. However, we know talking about money in an early relationship can be tricky, but it’s vital to have important money conversations before marriage so you know what you’re both signing up for.

Another age pattern spotted was that the older the respondent, the more comfortable they are talking about their finances with their partner, with 1 in 2 (52%) baby boomers disagreeing and 1 in 3 (35%) of millennials agreeing. This is backed up by expected salaries of those younger with less work experience as those on lower wages agreed they felt most uncomfortable. 

Almost everyone fights

Two in three people (71%) revealed they have argued with a partner about money, with one in three (31%) admitting they’d had an argument with their partner about money in the last month – and for one in six (16%) that was as recent as the last week. People in the 34-54 age group are most likely to admit to arguing with their partner about money – which is likely to coincide with financial pressures around family life and home ownership for most.

Additionally, those earning the least were agreed the most to arguing about money and more frequently than couples on higher salaries, with those on lower earnings arguing the most per week and per month. One in four (26%) earning $25,000 or less argued about money in the last week and the same number for those earning between $25,000 to $35,000 argued within the last month.

There are trust issues, too.

These arguments may well be leading to secret-keeping. One in five (21%) admit they hide things they’ve spent money on from their partner – rising to 1 in 3 (28%) of 45-54s. That ties in with the same number (20%) suspecting their partner is being dishonest with them about their finances. More than one in eight (13%) has debt they’re keeping secret from their loved one.

Further reasons for tension are around an imbalance of earning – with 20% saying either they or their partner earn significantly more than the other, which causes issues. 

One in five (20%) said they had a more relaxed attitude to spending than their loved one, according to the research, and 13% said their partner was more relaxed about money, creating tension. 

5 top tips on preventing arguments around money

To help support consumers have a healthy relationship with their partner around money and prevent couples falling out, Stackin’s financial therapist Megan Ford, PH.D, has 5 top tips:

  1. Know Thyself: Exploring your own relationship with money is a foundation for navigating money more successfully with a partner. Recognize that your financial habits and beliefs are deeply rooted in your family experiences and money memories, both good and bad. Take the (Stackin) Money Beliefs quiz to discover more about the personal financial beliefs that inform your behaviors and impact your relationship.
  2. Prepare to Get Financially Naked: Part of a healthy financial partnership is transparency and a willingness to let your partner into your financial world. This can be scary, but leaning into moments of sharing openly with one another can build financial intimacy, or the feeling of closeness, trust, and safety in the financial aspects of your relationship. Getting financially naked means sharing honestly about not only your income, assets, and debts, but also your money values, your spending & saving habits, and your financial goals.
  3. Prioritize Money Dates: Setting aside time and space weekly or monthly to discuss your finances as a couple is the key to staying on top things and heading off conflict before it shows up. Most couples are busy, so be intentional and put it on the calendar to make sure you’re both accountable. If you tend to get overwhelmed by money discussions, experiment with making a list or agenda to keep you on-track.
  4. Find What Fits: Finances for couples is not one-size-fits-all. No money strategy or practice with work the same way for everyone, so it’s best to avoid being overly concerned about how and what other couples do with money. Instead, use those examples as a starting point and find what works for you. Most importantly, stay flexible and open to renegotiating as life shifts.
  5. Don’t Wait if This Area Needs Attention: Money is one of the top contributors to relationship conflict, and when left to fester, couples point to money problems and financial fights as a reason their relationship eventually ended. So, if you’re having trouble navigating this topic together, know that it’s totally normal, but more importantly, don’t wait to seek out a third party who can help you work through it. Reach out to a financial therapist, counselor, or coach.
Candice Na

Candice Na

Candice Na is the VP of Marketing at Stackin. With over 10 years in the wellness and relationship space, she is obsessed with bridging the gap between finance and emotions. If Candice isn’t hanging out with her husband and their two kids, she’s either unsuccessfully planning a vacation, looking up someone’s birth chart, or getting far too emotionally invested in reality dating shows.