Thousands of guys and gals are starting the New Year newly single, and the most common reason for this sudden change in status? Money. Forced revelry and extended time together over the Christmas break often pushes already fraught couples over the edge, but extra financial pressure is sparking even more break-ups this year. It seems we're becoming increasingly sneaky and secretive about our financial affairs too, and I'm left wondering why money is such a tricky topic in relationships?
A study by myvouchercodes.co.uk found the most common cause of financial friction was disagreements on how to spend money, followed by overspending by one partner and lying about money. Tight budgets and not having enough to pay bills is also a relationship breaker, as is one partner being frivolous with money. Other respondents cited issues such as gambling, their partner 'not having enough money' and the fact they didn't like that their other half earned more than them.
Am I the only one to find these findings quite depressing? I don't think I'm too much of an old romantic, but I still think that most of us, bar the odd gold-digger, love our partners regardless of whether they are skint, loaded or bankrupt. However, hiding or lying about your financial situation, or where your money is going? Now there's a deal-breaker.
Of course every couple manages their finances differently, but when you live together and are planning your future, there has to be an element of 'what's mine is yours' and being totally open about what you earn, save and spend. When I hear about people discovering their partner has been blowing the mortgage payments on online gambling for example, I'm completely stumped how it managed to happen. If you're at the stage where you've purchased property together, where are the frequent chats about money, checking in which each other to monitor savings and go through bills and joint budget for the month?
It seems a lot of problems stem from one partner leaving it to the other to sort the household finances. An independent financial advisor recently told me he'd lost count of the number of older ladies, who when going through their late husbands' finances, were shocked to find out there was nothing left for them, as they'd just assumed or believed that they were being provided for, without actually checking.
But it's not just older generations. Research from family law firm, Mishcon de Reya, found around two thirds of married couples still have separate bank accounts, while one in three wives and husbands do not know exactly how much their partners earn. Even more shockingly, the research reveals that more than one in 10 married Brits would hide the purchase of big-ticket items such as a new car or expensive jewellery from their loved ones – or lie about the cost. Now you'd have to be particularly blind not to notice a new sports car or diamond necklace anyway, but why are people sneaking around behind their partner's backs? It's horrible.
Now I'm not suggesting we should live in our partner's pockets. I'm all for separate accounts as it's important to maintain some financial independence – but where's the trust and talking? I guess it's got a lot to do with how we tend to have such ingrained personal views about money, and some still find it a very touchy subject to discuss. Of course personal finance is a big issue, particularly if you're planning to share financial responsibilities with someone for the first time, but that's all the more reason to talk about it so we don't store up problems for the future.
By: Hannah Ricci