Couples would rather discuss anything else -- such as toilet-seat miscues, the thick coat of lint in the dryer filter and cat litter-box maintenance -- than money. The problem is so bad that the latest American Express (AXP) Spending & Saving Tracker survey of 2,008 adults found people were more likely to know the weight of their significant other than their salary.
The reluctance to discuss money varies across age groups: Only 43% of respondents across all ages remember discussing money before getting married, but about 81% of young professionals say they've had a financial talk with their prospective spouse. Young professionals are also more likely to maintain individual checking, savings and retirement accounts. Surprisingly, 12% of the respondents say they've never broached the subject of money with the most important person in their lives.
Money More Sensitive Than Intimacy
Money is a touchy subject for many people, especially in the current economic environment. It's the root of many fights and divorces. The survey laid it out in stark terms: 30% of all couples say finances are a "hot button issue" for them, followed by subjects like intimacy (11%), children (9%) and in-laws (4%).
Discussions on household finances lead to arguments among 45% of survey respondents in general, 44% of the affluent, and 72% of young professionals. A jaw-dropping 50% of people say they would manage their finances differently if they could go back in time.
Figuring out how to avoid fights over money can be tricky. Communicating with your partner helps, so does being honest. Most Americans believe they should check with their significant other before making purchases of $275 or more. Nonetheless, people don't always believe that honesty is the best policy. The survey found that "27% of respondents have misrepresented what they paid and 30% have hidden purchases from a disapproving partner, often going to crazy extremes."
One solution to ending fiscal fights the survey didn't mention is the one I found -- marrying a CPA with the fiscal discipline that would make personal finance guru Suze Orman proud. It's hard to win a money argument with someone who knows what they're talking about. Lord knows I've tried.
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