A new study by Experian Consumer Services (EXPGY) shows that people care less about having a spouse that they think is hot and more about their partner’s ability to responsibly manage money. The study also notes discernable differences in the way that pre-recession and post-recession couples view credit and finances, perhaps something that could help keep marriages together, as money is often cited as the number one cause of divorce. That equates to a lot of arguing over money happening daily, considering CDC data from 2011 showed the marriage rate was 6.8 per 1,000 and the divorce rate was 3.6 per 1,000.
The survey determined that 61% of couples married after the recession (2008) discussed credit scores before tying the knot, versus only 35% of couples married before 2008. Moreover, 82% of couples married after 2008 say that they discuss financial goals at least once a month, whereas only 65% of those married before 2008 said that they do.
Who's in Charge of Household Finances?
Oddly, though, only 39% of all married adults consider household finances a shared responsibility. 48% of married respondents put the responsibility on themselves.
Men are far more apt to spend without discussing with their spouse, to the tune of $1,231 before they feel it necessary to have a talk about it. Women, on the other hand, only spend $396 on average before feeling the need to discuss the spending with their spouse.
Want to be sexier? Talk about your finances. 73% of women and 60% of men in the survey said that open communication with their partner about finances makes him/her more attractive, lending to the idea that communication is integral to a happy marriage. The research also showed that 85% of couples agree on how to use credit and that one-third of the 15% that don’t see eye-to-eye on how to use credit have never discussed credit scores.
Nearly half (49%) of survey participants considered credit score when choosing a spouse. That number was boosted upward by 56% of women respondents considering it important. As far as those that have yet to perform their nuptials, 66% of unmarried respondents consider credit score, indicating it is becoming more important as time moves on.
What to Look for in a Spouse
Financial responsibility wasn’t the most important attribute in considering a long-term partner, but it was pretty close, with 98% of married and unmarried respondents saying personal compatibility was top on the list. 95% of married respondents and 93% of unmarried respondents ranked financial responsibility as important. Comparatively, physical attractiveness only ranked as important to 86% of married and 90% of unmarried respondents. Career ambition fell even further down the list, ranking as important to only 77% (married) and 81% (unmarried) of survey participants.
When it comes to compatibility, financials (96%) outranked even sex and intimacy (95%), but still trailed family goals (98%) and life goals (97%).
So what does all this tell us? Ultimately, open lines of communication about money are very important. After all, money is very dear to most everyone’s heart and there needs to be some sort of mutual understanding before spending it, whether through cash purchases or credit, to keep overall goals on track and animosity at a minimum.
For those thinking about getting a divorce, you better save up too. A longitudinal study of more than 7,000 people published in August 2012 showed that 15% of the people that separated from a spouse during the study remained separated after a decade, but never actually divorced. The researchers said the reason was simply that they couldn’t afford it. A generally accepted figure is between $15,000 and $20,000 to get divorced, according to Bruce Cameron of Cameron Law PLC in Rochester, Minnesota.