According to a recent study by TD Bank, Millennials are more likely to discuss money and finances on a regular basis than Boomers and Gen X couples. The researchers discovered that Millennials are more open about financial conversations than previous generations – a habit that is not only making them happier but also encouraging stronger relationships.
The report revealed that 75% of Millennial couples (18-34-year-olds) discussed their finances at least once a week, in comparison to 66% of Gen Xers (35-44) and 44% of Baby Boomers (55+). On a monthly basis, the numbers were slightly closer, with 97% of Millennials and 93% of Gen Xers talking about money at least once a month, while Boomers again lagged behind at 78%.
There are, of course, many factors that might influence this information, such as the fact that older generations are likely to already have paid off their mortgage, retired, or have a pension or savings to fall back as opposed to younger generations who are in the process of trying to save, buy a home, build a career, or have children – all major milestones which involve serious discussions about money.
On a slightly more pessimistic note, comments on the report suggest that many Millennials and Gen Xers are more vocal about their finances due to increasing worries about affording a home, putting money towards a pension, navigating a constricted job market, paying off student loans, and living paycheck to paycheck. Some even say saving is impossible, and have no expectation of being able to retire comfortably – or at all – meaning financial conversations are at the forefront of their mind at all times.
However, the report emphasised the positive connection between open communication about money and relationship stability. Almost 9 out of 10 Millennial couples surveyed for the study claimed to be extremely or very happy in their relationships, and around 80% of all couples who talked about money at least once a week reported being happy with their relationship, suggesting that finances play a key role to making a partnership work.
“We’re in a better place than we used to be because younger couples are more willing and open to talk about their money – and to address it directly, right out of the gate,” explains psychotherapist and relationship expert Dr. Jane Greer.
“Young people are very up front about the fact that they’re carrying debts, even credit card debts. The more open and honest you are, the more empowered you feel to be able to make financial decisions and choices that are important to you rather than winding up feeling controlled or resentful of your partner.”
Sharing financial responsibilities can be an important part of building a resilient and balanced relationship. According to another study carried out in 2008, ‘couples in successful marriages have mastered the skill of financial harmony in their relationships. Marriage commitment and healthy communications are maintained where couples have set guidelines and boundaries for their financial decisions. Understanding the value that each partner places on money, and respecting that both partners will have equal rights and responsibilities with control of the finances, will strengthen marriage bonds.”
So how do you approach talking about finances with your partner? And how do you stop money worries from escalating a conversation into an argument?
- Start early. According to the TD Bank study, 30% of couples who met online talked about money before they even went on a date. And overall, 45% of couples reported discussing finances within the first three months of their relationship. Being open and honest about your financial situation and expectations is important to foster a trustworthy and supportive relationship.
- Talk about it! No matter whether you’re flush or worried about money, regular discussion of your finances is a must. Both of you should be aware of your incomings and outgoings, any savings, debts of future purchases you’re working towards. If you have concerns about money, have a frank conversation with your partner and seek help – don’t go into denial. Over half of debt advice clients admit to hiding money issues from their partner, and one in ten British couples break down due to debt.
- Share the burden. The study revealed that over half of couples combine their finances into joint accounts, and 70% make decisions about large purchases together. However, less than a third of couples split the responsibility of dealing with bills equally. Sharing the chore of handling finances – just like housework – is important in order for a relationship to feel fair and equal, and encourages problem solving and discussion as a couple.
Talking about money with your partner and dealing with financial issues together is an excellent way to build a strong relationship. Financial pressure is one of the most common reasons for divorce in the UK, resulting in the break-up of one in ten couples. A fifth of couples report that the majority of arguments they have with their partner are about money and fight about finances on a weekly basis. But calm, practical discussion could be the answer. If you’re in need of relationship advice regarding debt and money worries, Relate has some excellent resources on the subject, or if you’re considering separation and need to speak to a solicitor, get in touch with the friendly team at Frances Lindsay & Co for more information.Tags: divorce, finances, financial issues, making a will, managing money, pensions, separation