SavvyWoman’s Women & Money report 2015 – how are women managing their money?

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Photo: Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock

Do you tell your partner everything about your money? Do you and your partner often argue about money? Have you ever had to pay off an ex-partner’s debts from a previous relationship? SavvyWoman’s Women and Money report found that money is the second most common cause of arguments and only six out of ten couples are honest about money.

Arguments about money

The SavvyWoman Women & Money Report 2015, sponsored by Noddle was based on research carried out by Opinium. It found that couples are more likely to argue about money than just about anything else.

  • Money is the second most common cause of arguments among couples, coming just behind tidiness/cleanliness. More than one in eight women in a relationship (13 per cent) and one in ten men (ten per cent) say that they argue about money most often.
  • Younger women are most likely to argue about the finances. Sixteen per cent of women aged 18 – 34 in a relationship and 11 per cent of men say that they argue about the finances most often.
  • Among the 35 – 54 year-old age group, finance is the number one subject couples argue over. This was also the only age group where an equal percentage of women and men (15 per cent) say they and their spouse/partner argue about the finances most often. Cleanliness/tidiness is the second most popular topic for arguments, according to women aged 35 – 54, while men say they are more likely to argue about the children.
  • Older couples are far less likely to argue about the finances. Only one in 12 women aged 55+ (eight per cent) say that finance is the most common cause of arguments. This falls to five per cent among men.
  • Taking all age groups as a whole, money is more likely to be a cause of arguments than household chores, relatives, children, sex, going out and past relationships.

Younger women in a relationship (aged 18 – 34) are the most likely to say they argue most about money, with almost one in six women (16 per cent) giving this answer compared with 11 per cent of men. Although women aged 18 – 34 are more likely to argue about money with their partner than older women, for both women and men in the 35 – 54 year old age group, money is the number one cause of arguments.

Older couples, aged 55+ are less likely to argue about the finances than any other age group. Only approximately one in 12 women (eight per cent) aged 55+ and one in twenty men (five per cent) say they argue about finances the most.

Honesty about finances

Encouragingly, most couples are totally open with each other about money, but not everyone is. Younger men are the least likely to be honest and open with their partner about money.

  • Almost six in ten (57 per cent) of women and men in a relationship say their partner knows everything about their finances, including how much they earn, what they owe and how much they had saved. There was no gender difference in this overall percentage.
  • Over one in four respondents (27 per cent) say their partner knows most of their financial situation. This splits down to approximately one in four women (26 per cent) and almost one in three men (29 per cent).
  • Almost one in ten women (nine per cent) say their partner only knows some of their financial situation compared to eight per cent of men.
  • One in 25 women (four per cent) and three per cent of men say their partner knows little or nothing about their finances.

Joint accounts

We asked couples who are married, living together or in a civil partnership whether they keep their current accounts separate or whether they have a joint account (either on its own or with a separate account).

  • Almost a third of respondents (31 per cent) living together or married/in a civil partnership say they keep their bank accounts separate, having their own current accounts, but no joint account. This split down into 33 per cent of women and 28 per cent of men.
  • Over half of those (55 per cent) living together have separate accounts, compared to fewer than one in four (23 per cent) who are married and fewer than half of those (48 per cent) in a civil partnership.
  • Over a third of respondents (35 per cent) say they have a joint current account only. Three times as many married couples have a joint account only than those who live together (42 per cent compared to 14 per cent). Just seventeen per cent of those in a civil partnership have a joint current account only.
  • Almost a third (32 per cent) of respondents have a joint current account and their own separate accounts.

Who manages the money?

I know from SavvyWoman polls that lots of women who visit SavvyWoman also manage the money for both themselves and their partner. But that’s not the case with all couples:

  • Just over a third of women married or living with their partner (35 per cent) say they manage the long term finances, such as pensions, long terms savings and mortgage. This was a surprising drop of six per cent compared to last year and much lower than the almost six out of ten men (58 per cent), who say they manage the long term finances.
  • Across all age groups, almost four out of ten people married or living with their partner (39 per cent) say that managing the long term finances is a joint task, but there was quite a stark gender divide, with 44 per cent of women saying that it is a joint task compared to only 33 per cent of men.
  • More women than men married or living with their partner manage the short term finances. Our survey found that 48 per cent of women manage the short term finances, compared to 41 per cent of men. This is a fall of four per cent for both women and men compared to last year.
  • Managing short term money jointly is the next most popular option. Over four in ten women (42 per cent) and 40 per cent of men say they jointly manage the short term finances with their husband, wife, civil partner or partner.

Relationship breakdown

At SavvyWoman we’ve received an increasing number of comments and emails from women who’ve had to pay off debts that their ex partner had run up when they were together. It seems they’re not the only ones. We found:

  • Over one in ten women (11 per cent) say they’ve had to pay off some of their ex partner or ex spouse’s debts. This is the most common financial issue that respondents say they experienced as a direct result of a relationship or relationships.
  • Almost one in ten women (nine per cent) say they had to pay bills that their ex had agreed to pay.
  • Overall, more women say they’ve had a financial problem, such as paying off their ex’s debts, bills or haven’t received child support, than men. This applies across all age groups, except among the 18 – 34 year olds.
  • Almost one in 16 women (six per cent) and one in 20 men (four per cent) say they didn’t receive child support that their ex agreed to pay.
  • Women aged 35 – 54 are the most likely to say they’ve had a financial problem as a direct result of a past relationship. One in seven (14 per cent) say they’ve paid off some of their ex’s debts and one in eight (12 per cent) have paid bills their ex promised to pay.
  • There was the biggest gender difference in the 55+ age group. One in ten women (ten per cent) have paid off some of their ex partner’s debts (compared to six per cent of men) and eight per cent of women have paid bills their ex promised to pay, compared to just three per cent of men.

Read more about money and your relationship in What your bank should do if you have a joint bank account and split up with your partner, and why they may not. You can also watch a short video I’ve recorded called Sorting out your finances if you split up with your partner.