Love and Money on Valentine's Day

February 9, 2016
Love And Money

Do love and money mix? Or should they mix? This year, as couples look forward to Valentine's Day, new survey results suggest that couples prefer fun as opposed to talking about money--an attitude that could cause big surprises as things get serious.

This year, Discover polled just over 2,000 consumers over 18 who are in various stages of relationships to see how finances ranked in their relationships.

While money may be sexy, the survey found that finances' image is still stodgy and dull, as it ranks second to last in terms of why couples get together. Fun and adventure topped the results with 40 percent. Physical attraction ranked the next highest with 29 percent. Financial stability trailed with only 19 percent, but it still bested those who got together because they wanted to start a family, which came in at just 12 percent.

BeFrugal, a cash back, coupon and deal website, also found that couples aren't interested in talking about finances in its Valentine's Day survey, which polled just over 1,000 adults about love and money in different stages of a relationship, and they also looked at the different attitudes of different generations.

In BeFrugal's survey, finances weren't top of mind on a first date, although millennials were more open to the idea than baby boomers--just one percent of boomers would talk about their financial status, compared to nine percent of millennials. This isn't surprising, given the nature of the younger generation's participation in social media.

However, Discover found that as a couple's relationship grows, so does their interest in their partner's finances. For dating couples, 59 percent desire financial stability in their partner. Being engaged makes personal finance more important, as 82 percent look for financial stability in their partner. Couples also talk about finances more, the more committed they are to each other.

BeFrugal also found that seriousness in a relationship provoked more interest in their partner's finances--but not to the same extent. Two years into a dating relationship, 12 percent of millennials were comfortable talking about their finances. Baby boomers were still pretty skittish about sharing their financial details--just seven percent were willing to talk.

While Discover's study talked about comfort level and financial security in a partner, BeFrugal asked people what they'd actually do. Discover found that people wanted their partner to be financially secure, but BeFrugal found that only 23 percent of engaged baby boomers would be comfortable discussing their finances, but on the flip side, 53 percent want to know details about their partner's spending habits, retirement plans, income and net worth, savings, investments and debt. Surprisingly, only a third of millennials wanted the same type of disclosure from their partner.

Even though they don't expect to have financial disclosure from their partner, 28 percent of millennials were more worried about their partner's financial habits and whether or not they meshed with their own--and just about as many have hidden expensive purchases from their partner or secretly nosed into their finances. They've even broken up more often due to financial issues. Their elder counterparts were less likely to feel the same way--only 14 percent of baby boomers shared those concerns.

BeFrugal didn't fully examine the reasons why there's a difference of opinion and action between the two generational groups, but it could be that more financial wisdom comes with age. It could also be a societal shift in a collective way of thinking about love and money; however, it would be interesting to compare attitude to behaviors and how they affect this younger generation and their relationships over time.

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