People in relationships are twice as likely to blame spending on their partners than themselves.

It’s easy to fall into the pattern of thinking only what you need to spend money is worth it.

Over a quarter (28 percent) of romantic partners claim they save and their partner spends money while only 13 percent say it’s them wasting money, says a survey from SunTrust.

“People are prone to view their spending as necessary, but a partner’s spending as excessive,” says Brian Nelson Ford, financial well-being executive at SunTrust. “Seeing the same purchase from two totally different perspectives creates the perfect environment for stress and arguments to happen.”

Money arguments end relationships

Not every relationship where partners share money is a marriage.

Many are, though, and money is an argument that ends a lot of them. One in seven relationships end over money arguments, says SunTrust’s survey. And that’s just one study on the subject.

Almost a third (31 percent) reported money to be the biggest source of conflict in their relationship, in an American Psychological Association study.

A similar survey from SunTrust showed people are less confident they’re doing it right than in 2015. Thirty-four percent called themselves the “saver” and only 13 percent said they were the “spender” back then.

Almost half (47 percent) say they have different spending habits than their spouse or partner. And when it come to stress in their relationship, 35 percent said finances were the primary cause of stress, more than annoying habits at only 25 percent.

“Every couple shares dreams that require an open dialogue on finances — whether it’s planning for the future, opening a business together, buying a house, having a baby or taking a vacation,” says SunTrust executive Rilla Delorier. “Laying the financial groundwork to make these aspirations a reality can be an uplifting process that strengthens the relationship.”

Why can’t we agree about money?

An economics professor from DePauw University ran a study himself to find that answer. He concluded in 2014 we fight over insecurities about the amount we make.

“The secondary earner attempts to spend a greater share of the money than they earn,” Jeff Gropp told U.S. News and World Report. “This resentment on both sides may be exacerbated in a household with only one income earner.”

Then when we have different plans for our spending, we butt heads.

Gropp pointed out to U.S. News and World report that one partner in the relationship may want to focus their money toward more responsible financial endeavors like retirement. The other may view their finances differently, and would like to spend on more frivolous items like a new car or expensive clothing.

In all, they don’t see eye-to-eye on their spending and in turn argue over finances. Which is one of the most common arguments that ends in divorce.

What’s the solution?

Some couples just need to communicate a little more. Others find it easier just to separate their bank accounts.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents to SunTrust’s 2018 survey say they prefer to have some of their accounts separate.

Over a quarter (27 percent) of those relationships say they chose separate accounts to prevent fighting over money.

“Arguments about money are really disagreements about what a couple values,” Ford says. “Instead of going straight into a conversation about money with your partner, begin with a deep dive into what’s important to each of you, whether it’s travel, a comfortable retirement or buying a home. If you can agree on those things, it’s a lot easier to agree on where your money should be spent.”

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Meet the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of

Budgeting & Saving, Family

couples, divorce, marriage, money management

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Article last modified on February 23, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Spending Too Much? It’s Not Me, It’s You - AMP.