Money can be a relationship’s downfall; it can also be the reason couples stay together.
With more Americans feeling financially constrained, 23% of all couples are primarily staying in their current relationships due to financial dependency, according to a new report by LendingTree.
Between sky-high inflation and stubborn gender dynamics, “I am not surprised at all,” said Stacy Francis, a certified financial planner and president and CEO of Francis Financial in New York. She is also a member of the CNBC Financial Advisor Council.
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For better or worse, money plays a big role in most relationships.
For starters, the better your financial footing and the higher your credit score when a committed relationship starts, the less likely you are to break up after the first few years, according to research by the Federal Reserve Board.
Couples in committed relationships also tend to do better financially. A Pew Research study found that men and women both earned more and were more financially sound in a relationship.
“Marriage is a union of love, but it’s also an economic arrangement,” Francis said, “and we don’t think about the money part until there are issues and problems.”
Why a ‘yours, mine and ours’ account setup is smart
Experts say there’s generally not a right or wrong way for couples to manage their assets, as long as they are on the same page.
There can be varying degrees of financial entanglements. About 62% of couples who are married, in a civil partnership or living together share at least one account, LendingTree found. Fewer — roughly 41% — completely combine funds.
Francis recommends “having yours, mine and ours,” so each person has their own money in additional to a joint account that they each contribute to — “typically as a percentage of your salary that goes to joint expenses.”
Co-mingling an account may lead to less frequent fights about money, LendingTree also found. Of those who share at least one account, only 12% said financial issues caused problems with their partner, compared to 15% of those who don’t have a shared account.
“By sharing an account, it gives each partner equal visibility into what’s going on in that account,” said Matt Schulz, LendingTree’s chief credit analyst. “That can help grow trust within the relationship.”
Further, 58% of those who share at least one bank account said they stayed together after a financial argument, compared to only 47% of those who don’t have a shared account.
Those who choose to pool their money together could still benefit from setting aside time to discuss where they are with their finances and where they would like to go.
“Openness, honesty and transparency are crucial for a relationship’s success, and that’s certainly true when it comes to money,” Schulz said.
Francis recommends “financial date nights,” a routine she still adheres to in her own home, to discuss savings goals, big expenses and future plans.