Money can create problems in relationships. Couples may argue over how to spend money, what each person chooses to buy, and how to make long-term spending plans. That can put stress on even a solid relationship, especially when the two members of the relationship have different financial philosophies.
If you're in a couple where money issues have caused fights, a new survey has some good news for you. Arguments over money decrease with age after peaking around middle age, according to the survey conducted by CompareCards.com, a subsidiary of LendingTree.
What the survey said
Only 15% of those surveyed said that they fought over money with their partner. Among the ones who did, younger couples fought more. At 17% Millennials (ages 18-34) were the second-most-likely age group to fight over money followed by Generation X (ages 35-54) at 20%. Baby boomers and seniors (anyone over 55) were least likely to argue about money at 9%.
The survey results make sense because Millennials and younger Generation X members are likely to be in life situations that cause financial stress. Buying a house, having children, and saving for retirement and/or college are all potential financial stressors. Even something like merging finances when a couple decides to live together or get married could cause arguments over money.
Money is only part of it
Over eight in 10 (82%) of the couples who said they don't fight about money were "extremely satisfied in their relationships," according to the survey. Only 59% of those who do argue over their finances felt the same way.
The report also showed that some couples may not argue about money because partners are hiding purchases from each other. More than one-third (37%) said they have bought something and not told their partner while about one in 10 (11%) confesses having a secret credit card, bank account, or loan their partner did not know about.
Women ages 35-54 were the most likely to have hidden a purchase from a partner at 42%. In addition, 65% of women said they can spend $100 or less without asking their significant other while 77% of men said the same thing. Overall, 62% of those surveyed felt that $500 was too much to spend without asking your partner.
What can you do?
The best policy for couples when it comes to money is to be fully honest. That means discussing your income, agreeing on mutual goals, and setting rules. Some couples agree to take "allowances," money that they can spend at their own discretion without questions being asked. In other cases, couples agree to contribute a certain amount to mutual expenses and accounts with the rest of their income being theirs to spend as they please.
No one recipe or system works for everyone. The best approach to not arguing about money is openness and negotiation. That means that both members of the couple may have to sacrifice things they want and abide by a plan that's not entirely of their own choosing.
Partnership, however, involves compromise. That's true in areas other than money, but when it comes to finances it's smart to put all your cards on the table and not have any surprises.
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