Money problems are the biggest source of friction, stress and arguments for couples, according to a survey conducted for the American Institute of CPAs.
Twenty-seven percent of respondents who are married or living with a partner said disagreements over money are most likely to prompt an argument. Neither children, household chores, work or friends ignited as many conflicts.
Couples most often disagree whether expenditures are necessities or luxuries, the survey found, with 58 percent of those who argue about money problems citing differing opinions of “needs” vs. “wants.” Nearly half (49 percent) argue about unexpected expenses, while 32 percent said they argue about insufficient savings.
What we’ve got here, the survey said, is a failure to communicate about finances. Fifty-five percent of respondents who are married or co-habitating said they do not set aside time to talk about money problems.
Perhaps these conflicts could be avoided if couples, prior to marriage, outline their financial goals and expectations and compare financial values. That’s what 75 percent of respondents to a new Millionaire Corner said would be the primary piece of advice they would give to someone before they got married.
Thirty-eight percent recommended premarital counseling as well as delaying having children until the couple feels financially secure. One-third would advise couples to check their future spouse’s credit score and level of debt, while 32 percent would suggest combining finances.
Twenty percent disagree, saying that spouses should keep separate accounts during marriage.
Women are, not surprisingly, more keen on communication about finances prior to marriage. Eighty-two percent—compared with 70 percent of men--said they would advise couples to compare notes to ensure they are on the same page when it comes to financial goals, expectations and values. Forty percent (vs. 26 percent of men) said they would advise engaged couples to check their future spouse’s credit score and debt level. They are also slightly more likely to recommend premarital counseling.
Women are also more in favor than men of keeping separate bank accounts during marriage (22 percent vs. 18.5 percent). But they were not so keen on delaying having children (36 percent vs. 40 percent of men).
Men, too, were most likely to recommend a couple live together to see if there is financial compatibility (27 percent vs. 24 percent).
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.