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Money matters cause the most quarrels between couples

27th April 2023

  • Money is the top cause of arguments among couples (29%), more than their children (17%) or each other’s families (20%)

  • A quarter (25%) of over 16s choose to put 100% of their money into joint accounts

  • Couples are splitting bills and household expenses equally, regardless of individual income

27th April 2023: Money is the number one cause of quarrels for three out of 10 couples in the UK, according to a new survey by Starling Bank. Couples aged 45-54 have the most disagreements (39%), along with parents (37%).

The research, which questioned 4,000 over 16s in the UK, found that couples who share finances have fewer disagreements about money than those who don’t (27% vs 32%). Half of the people surveyed have a joint account (50%) with most holding one with their partner (35%), family member (8%), a friend (3%) or housemate (3%).

Across the nation, Norwich, Nottingham and Sheffield residents are more likely to have joint accounts (54%), compared with people who live in Brighton who are least likely to pool their finances with someone else (40%).

Cities with the MOST joint account holdersCities with the FEWEST joint account holders
Norwich (54%)Brighton (40%)
Nottingham (54%)Newcastle (42%)
Sheffield (54%)Glasgow (43%)
London (52%)Edinburgh (44%)
Southampton (52%)Manchester (47%)

Money and relationships

Couples typically decide to make the leap and open a joint account after being in a relationship for 3.5 years. However Gen Z couples (16 - 24 years old) are quicker off the mark and generally open an account in just under two years of being together. People are also more likely to open a joint account when they hit ages 25-34 (35%) compared to 15% of 16 - 24 year olds, suggesting that finances are frequently brought together when making big life commitments such as moving in with a partner, buying a home or starting a family.

The most popular reason for opening a joint account is to make managing money an equal task (33%), followed by ensuring all joint items are paid for (30%) and to save for items together (26%). For one in five couples (20%), the main reason for combining their finances is to show a bigger commitment to one another.

Income vs financial contributions

On average people put 51% of their monthly income into their joint account. A quarter of those surveyed (25%) put 100% of their income into a shared bank account each month, and a further 48% of people put at least 50% of their income into a joint account. The findings also reveal that 27% of men put 100% of their income into a joint account, compared to 23% of women. The person earning the most money in the relationship, typically puts 53% of their income into the joint account, whereas those who earn less put in 61% on average - suggesting that couples are splitting bills and household expenses equally, regardless of individual income.

Paying the bills

People primarily use their joint accounts to pay bills (69%), general household expenses (66%) and save for holidays/travel costs (46%).

Helen Bierton, Chief Banking Officer at Starling Bank comments: “Managing finances can be a very challenging part of living with someone, whether that’s a partner, family member or housemate. It’s clear that having a better view of shared finances helps towards having more positive conversations about money, which is important during a time when budgets are tighter, and many people are reducing spending on non-essential items.

“A joint bank account doesn’t mean you lose your independence. Our findings reveal the main reasons for opening a shared account are to manage collective household expenses such as bills or rent, or save up for something big together.”

Notes to Editors

Starling Bank commissioned an omnibus research study of 4,000 over 16s in the UK between 15th - 20th February 2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

About Starling Bank

Starling Bank is an award-winning, fully-licensed and regulated bank built to give people a fairer, smarter and more human alternative to the banks of the past. It offers personal, business, joint, euro and dollar current accounts alongside a children’s card. Starling also provides a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) proposition through its subsidiary Engine, using the proprietary technology platform that it uses to power its own bank. Headquartered in London, the bank has offices in Southampton, Dublin and Cardiff.

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