- Gen Z and millennials are breaking up with their partners over money, 33% and 31% respectively
- Millennials fight with their partners about money more than anything else, above being present and off their smartphones and sex/ intimacy
- Money is so important to young people, many are researching their date’s job to gauge how much money they make
Talking about money is often considered taboo. This leads many people, including couples, to avoid the topic altogether, which can put a strain on their relationships. This is especially true for younger generations who are just starting out on their financial journey and potentially still on the market. As they weed through potential partners, many are prioritizing aligned financial values – and not settling for less.
According to a study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma, more than a third of Gen Z and millennials say they would break up with their partner if they did not share the same money values as them (38% and 36%, respectively). Yet, most young couples think it’s okay to leave talking about finances until they’ve reached a major milestone in their relationship, like moving in together (25% of Gen Z and 29% of millennials) or getting engaged or married (21% of Gen Z and 12% of millennials). This lack of communication has led many to reconsider their relationships and, in some cases, end them altogether.
Roughly one-third of Gen Z and millennial respondents (33% and 31% respectively) say they have ended a relationship over finances – and, young folks aren’t the only ones ending relationships over money. According to the study, a quarter of Gen X respondents have ended a relationship because they couldn’t agree on finances, along with 11% of boomers+. Disagreements about money tend to surface in arguments, which can put unnecessary strain on the relationship.
In fact, more than half of Gen Z and millennials (56% and 61% respectively) say they fight about money in their romantic relationships. More than 40% of Gen Z and millennials say they fight about money on a monthly basis (41% and 42% respectively). And, for millennial couples, money is the biggest source of arguments in their relationships (16%). That’s above not being present or being on a smartphone (13%), spending time together (12%), chores and intimacy/ sex (11%).
Seeking: financial alignment
To get ahead of money issues in relationships, some young folks are doing their research before they get involved with a partner while others are keeping a close eye out for financial red flags. According to the study, 35% of Gen Z and 25% of millennials say, when they’re dating someone, they research their job to gauge how much money they make. This is likely done to ensure they’re lifestyles would align before getting too involved.
Another method of sussing out a person’s financial behaviors is to look for financial red flags, which differ across generations. Gen Z respondents say their biggest financial red flag is when someone is unwilling to split expenses and expects them to pay for everything (16%). This is probably triggering for Gen Z who are just starting out and struggling to find their financial footing. Meanwhile, millennials say reckless spending is their biggest red flag (17%).
So, should couples split?
Despite money driving a wedge in some relationships, many married young couples find themselves stuck in their circumstances for financial reasons. According to the study, roughly a quarter of Gen Z and millennials would stay in an unhappy marriage to avoid the cost of divorce (24% and 25%, respectively). Another 30% or more say they would stay in an unhappy marriage if they were financially dependent on their partner (31% of Gen Z and 32% of millennials).
“Money is a deeply personal topic for a lot of people, but it’s important to develop a language around money that you feel comfortable with – especially when it comes to managing money in your relationships,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “If you’re someone who gets uncomfortable talking about money, remember you’re not alone. Knowing you’re likely not the only person feeling that way may give you a little more comfort when having the conversation. Additionally, in a world where so many of our interactions take place digitally, including how we spend and transfer money, it’s important to make time for face to face interactions with your partner about finances. If you’re new to this, start small. Having small conversations about money can lead to big changes in your relationship. For example, if you want to plan a trip together, consider scheduling time to sit down and discuss your budget, what financial steps need to be achieved before you travel, and the right timeline to reach your desired destination.”
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma between June 7, 2023 and June 9, 2023 among 1,005 adults ages 18 and older.