Love and money: do couples see it differently?

scales-image-300x200Weddings are expensive, there’s no getting away from it. While “the happiest day of your life” can be memorable, it can also put a strain on the wallet. Before and after marriage, there are often a few disagreements on personal finance, but what are they and why do they happen?

People pair up with their partner for all sorts of reasons – and one of the biggest is finances. A nationwide Experian survey of couples in relationships* asked if financial responsibility would make someone more attractive, 29% said it would, while 35% of women said this would make a male ‘much more attractive’.

Caring less about careless spending? One surprising result was 29% of people overall being indifferent to partners who spend beyond their means. For men, this figure rose to 35%. Nonetheless, 19% of male respondents said they found women much more attractive if they paid their bills on time.

Staying away from debt  Being debt-free was popular across the board, with 58% of female respondents saying that they would find a man much less attractive if in heavy debt. Across both genders in Wales, a massive 62% found being in debt highly undesirable, although 57% of people in the North East said they didn’t care whether someone was careful with money.

Money isn’t everything  Big salaries weren’t such a priority. 68% of men and women said that it made no difference whatsoever to whether or not they found someone desirable, although one in 10 women surveyed did say that they found someone earning a higher-than-average wage ‘much more attractive’!

Careers weren’t considered a major factor either. Just over a quarter of respondents – 26% –  found a partner more attractive if they had a good career; 25% of females said a career was ‘quite important’, while 15% of males said the same thing. In Northern Ireland, 21% said their partner’s job was important, more than in any other part of the UK.

Fun over funds In many cases, a good sense of humour was valued more than financial stability. 42% said that being funny was more important than having money, with 60% in South West England believing this to be the case.

Physical attractiveness was also rated as being more important than having enough money to provide for the family! 42% nationwide said that sexual compatibility was ‘quite important’ while 34% claimed that it was ‘very important’. In London and Northern Ireland, 44% said that sexual compatibility was ‘very important’!

In contrast, 39% of people in Scotland said that physical attractiveness wasn’t in the least bit important to them when discussing their ideal partner. A large proportion of Scots were also unimpressed by a partner’s education – 49% said it wasn’t really important to them whether they had a degree or no qualifications to their name.

How much do we know about each other?  Not every couple knows each other’s finances, it seems, according to several stats we uncovered.  Only 44% of people know how much credit card debt their partner has accrued, while in Northern Ireland, a mere 29% of people in the survey said they knew how much credit card debt their partner actually had.

Debt seems to be a thorny issue for many couples across the country. Perhaps showing that they don’t want to anger their other halves, only 38% of people say that they know of their partner’s debt and overdraft levels. In Scotland, only 32% said they had any knowledge of their significant other’s debts. Just 15% said they knew about their partner’s student debts, although they can be hard to get.

The Experian Credit Score is a guide to help you understand your credit report, and how the way you’ve managed credit in the past can have an impact on future credit applications. It’s also for you to monitor your progress as you get your finances in order before you apply for new credit.

Savings and secrets  What was rather more surprising is that 56% of people knew the extent of their partner’s savings, as well as how many bank accounts they had up and running, but just 47% of respondents in London knew about the latter. Conversely, just 69% actually know how much their partner earns, while a third of that total knew of any bonus payments received.

In Wales, the proportion of people knowing how much their partner gets in bonuses from work is a paltry 13%. This figure stood at 18% in Northern Ireland, where just 53% knew about their partner’s take-home salary.

Differences of opinion
When it comes to managing money as a couple, arguments can often break out, but how common are they? In the South West, 65% said they rowed with their partner over spending too much, while 40% in the same region had exchanged heated words about not saving enough. 55% in Northern Ireland argued about overspending on clothes while 13% of Londoners argued over restaurant bills.

Decision-making is usually needed where money is involved. Some decisions made by couples are sometimes done so jointly – 66% choose the same destination for holiday, for example. 64% said they buy the home together, with 47% saying mortgages were taken out as a couple. However, just 2% of men said they would let their partner choose which car to buy.

Saving for a wedding was among the biggest priorities for couples, with only saving for a new home and paying the mortgage scoring higher. When it came to weddings, just over a third who said they wanted to get married planned on spending no more than £1,000. One in five said they would spend between £2,501 and £5,000.

Post-wedding, the majority said they would keep spending under the £1,000 mark for their honeymoon, but 21% said they would be willing to stretch to as much as £2,500. 28% said they had paid off their wedding costs for between two and three years!

**All data referenced in this article is from Experian’s ‘Money and Relationships’ Survey 2014, carried out online by Canadean Consumer on behalf of Experian Consumer Services among a representative panel of 2,005 UK adults in 2014.

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