Couples’ money management behavior and relationship satisfaction

Personal Finance February 07, 2017 Print Friendly and PDF


Britt, S., Grable, J.E., Nelson, B.S., & White, M. (2008). The influence of perceived spending behaviors on relationship satisfaction. Financial Counseling and Planning, 19(1), 31-43.

Brief Description: This study explored relationships between couples' personal and joint spending habits and relationship satisfaction. Results indicated that partner spending behaviors, but not one's own or joint spending behaviors, influence relationship satisfaction. Other factors associated with relationship satisfaction were high self-esteem (positive relationship) and financial stressors such as medical bills (negative relationship).

Implications: This study links relationship satisfaction and spending behaviors and shows that perceptions of a partner's spending practices matter. Spending without consulting one's partner decreases satisfaction and confirms how tensions over money can contribute to divorce. Couples should communicate about finances, especially prior to cohabitation or marriage, to better integrate their partner's approach to money with their own.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.