Is True Love Harder to Find than Financial Security?

When it comes to big life goals, most Americans point to two things: financial stability and a long-term relationship. While it seems like we're always chasing after love or money, of the 1,400 Americans who participated in the third annual Love & Money Survey by TD Bank, 58 percent stated it's harder to find true love than financial success, despite being currently in a relationship.

Big cities may seem like they are teeming with fish in the sea, however according to survey respondents, it's even harder to discover romance. Seventy-nine percent of New Yorkers, 64 percent of Bostonians and 56 percent of Philadelphians said true love is more difficult to achieve than financial security.

"Generally, people can envision what steps they should take to achieve financial success and what milestones to target. But true love can be a bit more elusive," said Jason Thacker, Head of U.S. Consumer Deposits and Payments at TD Bank. "Financial success also feels more within one's personal control than finding true love which can be heavily dependent on a variety of unique factors."

Making It in Love and Life

  • Despite their gloomy outlook on love, Americans seem to be more chipper about their finances. In fact, 72 percent of couples believe they have the personal finance skills needed to achieve financial success in life.
  • Still, many acknowledge challenges to achieving such success. Top barriers to meeting financial goals are: living paycheck-to-paycheck (37 percent), stress of repaying debt (26 percent), and fear of not being able to make payments (16 percent). 
  • Looking back, the best advice Boomers would give their younger selves is not to wait to start saving or investing (61 percent). One-in-four (26 percent) would also caution there's no rush to get married.
  • Among today's Millennial couples, holding off on major milestones is very common until they feel financially ready. Millennials report waiting to buy a house (45 percent), have a baby (24 percent) or start a business (20 percent).

Wedding Bells and Wedding Bills

  • On average, Americans believe you should spend about $2,000 on an engagement ring, while 10 percent believe a ring is not necessary.
  • While tradition dictates the bride's parents pay for the wedding, only 11 percent still believe this. In fact, 59 percent believe the cost should be shared by the couple and their families.

"Since marriage and wedding traditions are changing, it's important for couples to make sure they're on the same page regarding the meaning of an engagement ring, who will pay for the wedding and whether to take a financial risk when wedding planning," said Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., also known as The Love Doctor®, who analyzed the results of the TD Bank survey. "If each partner's expectations aren't met or communicated to each other, frustration and disappointment can result that will eat away at the happiness in the relationship."

Money Talks

  • Millennial couples that talk about money most frequently are the happiest. Eighty-six percent report they are comfortable discussing money with their partner, compared with 74 percent of Gen-Xers and 79 percent of Baby Boomers.
  • Happy couples talk also about money more often than unhappy couples, with 90 percent of happy couples discussing finances at least once a month compared with 68 percent of unhappy couples.
  • Forty-three percent of couples discuss money in the first three months of the relationship. Of those who have used a digital dating service, 28 percent have asked how much money a potential partner makes before meeting in person – 46 percent among Millennials.

More Money, More Problems?

  • One in three (33 percent) unhappy couples argues about money at least once a week, compared with just 15 percent of happy couples.
  • Thirteen percent report keeping a financial secret from their significant other, with more Millennials (30 percent) and men (16 percent) keeping secrets overall. While 35 percent never plan to tell their secret, women are less likely to ever to come clean (62 percent).
  • The most common financial secrets across all generations are: a secret bank account (35 percent), significant credit card debt (23 percent) and a bad credit score (8 percent).

Research company Maru/Matchbox conducted the survey among a nationally representative sample of Americans who are currently in a relationship. The online fieldwork occurred between June 20th and June 27th, 2017. In total, 1482 completes were gathered in the U.S. Data has been weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the population. Margin of Error on the total sample is +/-2.5 percent.


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