Economy

Couple Budgeting – A Quarter of Americans Have Broken up Over Finances

As winter approaches and the weather turns frigid, lonely singles start to put out their feelers for a warm body to snuggle up to for the cold months ahead.

“Cuffing season” is upon us. This periodic dating trend sees people pair up to get through the winter only to part ways around Valentine’s Day. With inflation soaring, cutting costs by splitting bills with someone for the winter may seem extra appealing this year.

Yet money can just as quickly push people apart as it can bring them together. New survey data from Wealth of Geeks and Credit.com indicates almost a quarter of Americans – 24% – said they’d broken up with someone over finances.

Finance flows through all relationships. While married couples with combined accounts may have the emotional wherewithal to balance tight budgets, new connections can quickly sink under the strain of money trouble.

More Money, Honey?

Our data is based on an online survey of 1,019 US adults ages 18 to 99 commissioned by Wealth of Geeks and conducted by Credit.com in September 2021. We assume the 1,019 participants in our survey represent the US population of 258.4 million Americans who are at least 18 years old, according to the 2021 US Census Bureau estimate.

This assumption was made at the 95% confidence level with a 2.55% margin of error. The survey asked people if they had ever broken up with someone over finances or been broken up with over finances. Demographics regarding age, gender, and relationship status were also collected.

The data shows a slight divergence between men and women regarding money and relationships.

Men showed a higher tendency to break up over money issues, with 29% saying they’d ended a relationship due to finances. Only 23% of women said the same. More than a quarter of men – or 26% – said their partner had ended things due to money. The same was true for just 15% of women.

Age was also a factor, with early and mid-career adults showing the highest tendency to break up over money.

A total of 30% of respondents aged 35-49 said they’d broken up with someone over money, while 28% aged 25-34 had done the same. Of the 35-49 group, one quarter, or 25%, admitted they’d been dumped over money compared to 19% of their junior cohort (25-34).

Smaller portions of younger (18-24) and older (50-64) respondents were inclined to break up with someone over money – 13% and 15%, respectively. They were also less likely to be dumped over finances, too – 7% and 11%.

The data shows how decisive finances can be for relationships. Considering the worsening economic conditions across the country, unless properly managed, issues surrounding money could become a source of tension between couples.

Cash Candid Dating

With rising inflation pressure, belt-tightening and penny-pinching may be squeezing budgets for date nights.

The looming “cost of dating” crisis is nudging more people to embrace the cheap date. Around four in ten Gen-Z and Millennials prefer budget dating, according to a recent survey done by Bumble and commissioned by YouGov. As wining and dining get pricier, alternatives such as a stroll with coffee, a night in with wine, or a visit to a free admission art gallery or museum are catching on.

This may work well if each partner is a saver, but it will cause more friction earlier on if one is more of a spender. Hence, there is a growing incentive to clarify money values earlier in the dating cycle.

This has opened the way for discussing money – traditionally a faux pas on first dates. The Bumble survey found around a third of respondents said it’s more important to talk about money with their dating partner now than it was at the beginning of 2022.

So-called “cash candid dating” can take different forms but encourages honesty around money from the get-go. Some prospective partners may reveal all upfront (their salary, savings, and expectations for their partner’s finances). Others may outline how much they’re willing to spend on the actual dates. This can avoid awkward standoffs over jaw-dropping bills.

Frank conversations around money may not sound romantic but are probably best done sooner than later. If one or both partners have developed destructive money habits, such as gambling or compulsive shopping, a seemingly harmless fling can quickly become a debt trap.

Conclusion

Singles who do some introspection and get clear on their personal financial values will be better placed to handle this increasingly money-conscious dating scene. Romance is stressful enough when your emotions are on the line. Minimizing the damage it can do to your wallet can make it even more fraught. Yet identifying and communicating your own priorities around money to prospective partners could ensure your heart (and bank account) survive the winter intact.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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