Money is the biggest source of conflict for nearly 60% of Australian couples

author-avatar By on May 19, 2021
Money is the biggest source of conflict for nearly 60% of Australian couples

Money makes the world go round but it's also a major source of tension for more than half of couples.

A recent survey by dating website eharmony found that while more than half (54%) of Australians believe money is an important part of a relationship, it's also the biggest cause of fights for 58% of couples. 

Perhaps it's no surprise then that one in five (20%) couples said they still keep their bank accounts separate.

One in ten (14%) admitted to hiding secret credit cards, bank accounts and debts from their partner.

The research also found that one in three (33%) singles surveyed said they wouldn't trust a potential partner to be as responsible with money as they are. 

Meanwhile, one in five (20%) singles said they worried a potential partner would judge their spending habits.


The table below features savings accounts with some of the highest interest rates on the market.


She's on the Money founder and financial planner Victoria Devine said the COVID pandemic was a make or break for many couples when it came to how they handled money.

“The pandemic saw money behaviours change in many. There was a strong focus on reducing debts and solidifying personal financial positions in the time of crisis," she said.

"The uncertainty also created enormous fiscal stress for both singles and couples alike."

Ms Devine urged couples to be transparent with their finances.

“There is no one size fits all when it comes to the best way to manage finances within a relationship. My partner and I pay our way 50-50, but this isn’t ideal for everyone.

"Whether it is paying back debt, supporting young children or even working how to split the grocery bill, couples need to work out what’s the best strategy for them," Ms Devine said.

“It’s so important to have those uncomfortable money conversations early in your relationship. My advice is to be upfront, because the more you hide, the more it can impact you in the future."

The research found that when asked what they felt was an acceptable level of debt (not including mortgage debt) for a potential partner to have, more than half of singles (55%) said the limit was $20,000.

Over a third (35%) of singles took a more firm view and believed there should be no debt at all.

In her work as a financial planner, Ms Devine said one of the biggest causes of deception in relationships was hidden debt.

"I’ve worked with clients who have been in six figures of debt and haven’t told their partners. It’s a shock to the relationship to say the least and it can be really difficult to work through.”

Advancing the cause for women? Hardly - male breadwinner still preferred

The research also found that women and men are still old fashioned when it comes to their ideal salary in a potential partner. 

According to the preferences in 9,500 dating profiles, more than half (60%) of women are more likely to send their first message to men who earn more than they do.

Only a quarter (24%) of men would be more likely to send their first message to a woman who earns more. 

The vast majority (53%) of men said they would prefer to open a conversation with a woman they match with who earns a lower income, while a quarter (24%) said they would be open to dating a woman on the same income.

Regardless of income levels, eharmony relationship expert Sharon Draper said financial stress can have a major impact on relationship satisfaction.

"If there isn’t a foundation of trust when it comes to money, it can lead down a dangerous route," Ms Draper said.

"A couple ideally needs to agree in their approach, whether they choose to merge bank accounts or keep things separate. And if they’re struggling to see eye to eye, I’d really recommend seeking financial advice together."


Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

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Emma Duffy joined Savings.com.au as a Finance Journalist in 2019 after spending a year as the editor of The Real Estate Conversation. She's passionate about empowering people to make smart financial decisions and improve the financial literacy of Australians by translating complex finance topics into understandable, relatable content.

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