Most Couples Share Monthly Expenses

June 10, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Data-driven | Financial Services | Household Income | Men | Women | Youth & Gen X

Two-thirds of US couples share all monthly expenses, according to the June 2010 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.

Younger Consumers More Independent
Most couples pay their monthly bills jointly and maintain joint ownership of various household accounts. Two-thirds (66%) of those surveyed share all monthly expenses, while the remaining 34% divide their bills each month, with methods ranging from paying certain bills individually to splitting household expenses based on income ratio.


However, more young professional couples (48%) separate monthly expenses than affluents (37%) or the general population (34%). Young professionals are also more likely to maintain individual checking, savings and retirement accounts compared to the general population and affluents.

Mistakes are Common despite Consultation
Among those surveyed, $275 is the average threshold at which couples need to consult with their partner before making a purchase. That figure rises to $395 among affluents and falls to $249 among young professionals.

Forty percent of consumers believe their partner spends more money than they do on things outside of household expenditures. The same number (40%) consider themselves more diligent than their partner when it comes to saving money and budgeting.

More than half (56%) of couples feel they have made a financial mistake in their relationship, ranging from spending too much on their wedding to buying a house at the top of the market. The majority (50%) say they would do something differently to manage their financial situation if they could go back in time, including:

  • Putting more into savings and investments (32%).
  • Spending more responsibly (27%).
  • Discussing financial goals and expectations earlier (17%).

Discussions on household finances lead to arguments among 45% of the general population, 44% of affluents, and 72% of young professionals.

Young Professionals More Likely to Separate and Track Debt
More young professionals (43%) say they keep some or all of their debt separate from their spouse or significant other, compared with 20% of the general population and 22% of affluents.

Among couples, the majority of the general population (55%) and affluents (63%) claim that both members carry an equal amount of debt. That number drops to 39% among young professionals, with 31% claiming they have more debt than their partner. Notably, 31% of the general population and 20% of affluent couples indicate they do not know how much debt they carry as a couple, compared to just 5% of young professionals.

Consumer Troubles Grow
US consumers are facing increased financial difficulties and a soured employment picture, which may aggravate the consumer debt situation, according to the June 2010 Consumer Reports Index. The Consumer Reports Trouble Tracker Index, which tracks financial difficulties, dramatically increased in June 2010 after significantly falling in May 2010 and skyrocketing in April 2010. The Index rose to 63.5 from 53 in May. The biggest increase is in missed mortgage payments, which reached 3.9%, its highest level since tracking began in April 2009, and is up significantly from May (2.5%).

Other financial difficulties also buffeted consumers. In June, more consumers reported difficulty affording medical bills or medications versus the prior month (16.4%), up 2.7 percentage points from the previous month, and they faced lost or reduced healthcare coverage (9.3%), up 1.5 percentage points.

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