If you and your partner are stressed about money, you’re definitely not the only ones. According to a new study from Fidelity Investments, more than half of couples surveyed carried debt into their marriages — and four in ten of those couples admitted their relationship was negatively impacted as a result.
The financial expertise company has conducted the Couples & Money Study every year since 2007, and aims to better understand how couples manage their finances. This year’s may have revealed a number of unpleasantries about newlyweds bringing debt into their marriage, but as it turns out, the real problem is how they handle it. For example, nearly half — 49 percent — of surveyed couples contradict each other on whose responsibility it is to pay off their debt.
Other disconnects included retirement, important account information, and more surprisingly, their partner’s job (one in seven couldn’t accurately report their significant others’ employment status!).
This is where communication comes in.
“Couples who plan together tell us they feel financially strong, regardless of their age or length of relationship,” said Alexandra Taussig, senior vice president of lifetime client engagement at Fidelity. “Openly discussing financial matters helps people feel more confident, more closely aligned and better equipped to take on the future. Working together, couples can help each other build financial confidence in their ability to manage, should the day come they have to do it on their own.”
However, things aren’t all bad. According to Fidelity Investments, 47 percent of Americans described their households’ financial health as “very good,” and 22 percent even said it’s “excellent.” A majority of couples — 86 percent — even said they’d rather have their partner be happy at work, but earning less versus stressed out, but making a significant amount of money.
“We see over and over that dealing with debt is one of the biggest stressors in day-to-day life. Working as a team to put a financial action plan in place to address debt can help couples get out from under this burden, and as importantly bring more peace of mind to your household and relationship,” said Taussig. “It’s not the debt you bring into the relationship that matters, but how you work together to handle your debt over the long run.”