Over 50% of dating millennials don’t want to marry until their finances are in order

Close up of millennial bride and groom dolls separated by savings jar that represents their finances Image: Close up of millennial bride and groom dolls separated by savings jar that represents their finances

In a Nutshell

Before tying the knot, millennials are dialing down the romance to get on the same financial page, a new Credit Karma survey suggests. Most millennials from our survey said their partner knows how much debt they have and the majority of millennials in relationships said they don’t want to get married until their finances are in order. Over half maintain their financial freedom with a separate personal bank account.

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A new Credit Karma survey shows that when it comes to love, millennials are swiping right on financial honesty — and marrying later — for a better chance at happily ever after.

According to our survey, when it comes to partnership, most millennials want to make sure they’re on the same financial page as their S.O. before they say “I do.” This involves knowing how much debt their partner has and openly discussing their salary, among other things. (Learn more about our methodology.)

Our survey also suggests millennials value maintaining financial independence once they’re paired up. Almost two-thirds (62%) keep at least one separate personal bank account while in a relationship, and many think it keeps their relationship alive. Read on to learn more.

Key survey findings

More than half (55%) of the millennials we surveyed who are in unmarried relationships say they agree somewhat­ to strongly that they don’t want to get married until their finances are in order.
About two in five millennials (42%) say transparency about their partners’ finances is key to a healthy relationship. In fact, most millennials from our survey (79%) say they’ve told their partner(s) how much debt they have.
Almost three-fourths of millennials (71%) in our survey say it’s at least somewhat important their partner’s finances be up to certain standards before marriage.
Almost two-thirds (62%) of surveyed millennials who are in a relationship have a separate bank account from their partner(s). And nearly a third (32%) say they somewhat to strongly strongly agree that keeping at least one bank account separate from their partner’s helps keep their relationship alive.

Key findings infographic


Millennials swipe right on financial transparency

When it comes to dating, more than two in five (42%) millennials we surveyed said being transparent about their finances is key to a successful romantic relationship.

There are several different ways that millennials in relationships have worked to communicate their financial situation to their partners, according to our survey. Here are the top three financial topics millennials and their significant others discuss:

  • Income: 96% of respondents have told their partner how much money they make and 95% know how much money their partner makes
  • Credit scores: 89% of respondents have told their partner their credit scores and 89% know their partner’s credit scores
  • Debt: 79% of respondents have told their partner how much debt they have and 81% know how much debt their partner has

This might be because when deciding whether to settle down for life, millennials have high financial expectations for their potential spouses: Almost three-fourths of millennials from our survey (71%) said it’s at least somewhat important that their partner’s finances be up to certain standards before marriage.

What kind of standards? Our survey found the most important factors millennials would like to know about their partner’s finances are their spending habits, debt, income and savings — suggesting these are key areas that must be up to snuff before marriage.

Another reason for all the financial transparency: Millennials want to hold themselves accountable too. Over half of millennials in unmarried relationships (55%) said they somewhat to strongly agree that they don’t want to get married until their own finances are in order.

What does this look like? For millennials who don’t want to marry until their finances in order, here are they top things they want to achieve before marriage:

  1. Make a higher salary (44%)
  2. Pay down loans or other debt (43%)
  3. Pay down credit card debt (36%)
  4. Save or earn enough to live on their own (35%)
  5. Save enough to buy a house (32%)

Either way, a willingness to talk about topics like income, credit scores and debt opens millennials up to meaningful money discussions with their partners that can set them up for relationship success in dating and marriage.

Financial independence: Keeping millennial relationships alive

So, we’ve seen that open communication around finances is important to millennials in relationships. But so is keeping some financial independence, our survey found. And one of the key ways millennials do this is by keeping a separate bank account.

According to our survey, about two-thirds (62%) of millennials in relationships keep at least one separate banking account from their partner. And our survey suggests it’s because millennials enjoy the freedom to spend their money how they want.

Among respondents who said they keep a separate personal bank account, nearly a third (32%) said it’s because they want to keep their shared and personal spending separate. Meanwhile, 26% said they have one because they want to spend money on their own terms, and 16% said it’s because they like to keep finance and relationships separate as a general rule.

And it seems to work. Almost one-third (32%) of those surveyed said they somewhat to strongly agreed that keeping a separate bank account from their partner helps keep their relationship alive.


‘We need to talk’ … about money

Whatever millennials are doing, it seems to be working. A 2018 analysis out of the University of Maryland found overall divorce rates are down thanks to millennials. We can only guess it has something to do with millennials taking it slow and getting on the same money page with their partners before diving in.

If you’re feeling inspired and are wondering how to have a conversation with your own partner about money, we’ve got a few tips.

  • Be honest about your situation: If you’re working to pay down debt or have financial goals you haven’t reached, don’t be afraid to raise the topic. Our survey found that most millennials (78%) think open and honest communication is the key to a successful relationship — and that includes communication around money. So it might be worth finding out if your current — or potential — partner values financial honesty and transparency as well. If they do, see if they’d be open sharing their own financial journey with you. Just remember to never share sensitive financial information with someone you don’t fully trust.
  • Be creative with dates: Think about the money you can save and fun you can have doing activities that don’t cost much money. A past survey we did found that 84% of people who spent a night in rather than going out with friends reported spending less. Consider something like cooking together at home for date night instead of going to a restaurant — or if you want to go out, be honest with your partner about preferring to do something inexpensive.
  • Create shared goals: It can be stressful to talk about money. Almost half (41%) of folks we surveyed said they were at least somewhat stressed by financial conversations with their partner. But most (73%) still feel that it’s at least somewhat important to be in a relationship with someone who approaches money the same way they do. Discussing shared goals to work on together can help you get on the same page financially.

Methodology

On behalf of Credit Karma, Qualtrics conducted a nationally representative online survey in January 2020 among 1,036 American millennials in relationships to better understand how they approach their finances when in a relationship.


About the author: Paris Ward is a content strategist at Credit Karma, providing readers with the latest news that will aid their financial progress. She has more than a decade of experience as a writer an… Read more.