By Michael S. Fischer, Contributor, ThinkAdvisor

Most couples disagree about money from time to time, but the happiest ones know how to work through their differences, according to Ameriprise Financial.

Three-quarters of participants in a recent Ameriprise study on couples and money said they agreed on most financial matters, while more than a third also said there was room for improvement.

The study found that 88% of couples were happy with how they had divided up financial responsibilities in their relationship, and 68% said they communicated well about their financial situation. Both individuals in the pair rated themselves as engaged, responsible and confident in managing their money.

“Money doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker for couples,” Marcy Keckler, Ameriprise’s vice president of financial advice strategy, said in a statement. “Instead, it provides them with the opportunity to work as a team to create a strong financial foundation built on communication, planning and shared responsibilities.”

The Ameriprise study was conducted online by Artemis Strategy Group among 1,514 U.S. opposite and same-sex couples (married or living together for at least six months with shared financial responsibility), ages 25 to 70 with at least $25,000 in investable assets.

Getting Along

While 82% of couples said they work to quickly resolve differences in financial decisions, 31% said they argue about money at least once a month. The most common points of disagreement:

  • Major purchases: 34%

  • Decisions about finance and children: 24% of respondents with offspring

  • A partner’s spending habits: 23%

  • Important investment decisions: 14%

The study found a neutral party, such as a shared financial advisor, can help couples deal with disagreements about money. “Couples who see the same advisor report that it has helped them improve both their communication and their understanding about financial matters,” Keckler said. “It’s also helped many of them defuse potential conflicts. Approximately 40% of couples who describe themselves as not ‘on the same page’ financially say that advisors have helped them negotiate money issues that might otherwise have caused tension.”

Following are the top five money habits of happy couples in the Ameriprise study.

1. They make money a priority. Half of survey respondents believed that money was an important factor in their relationship, and only 15% said it was not important.

2. Most talk about and agree on financial goals and shared responsibilities. Sixty-eight percent of couples rated their communication on financial matters as good or perfect, and 82% said they had discussed retirement and had similar views on how to approach it.

3. They set spending limits. Any purchases over $400 on average need to be discussed.

4. The majority have joint banking accounts. If one partner keeps money separate from the joint account, the other is typically aware of it.

5. They share the responsibility for retirement planning and investment decisions. Ninety-two percent said they agreed on their target retirement savings goals.


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