Valentine's Day: When love and money collide

45% of partners admit to fighting about money: Fidelity

When it comes to money this Valentine's Day, it isn't all champagne and roses, according to a new study.

Fidelity Investments found that finances create points of contention among couples regarding spending and saving, particularly planning for emergency funds and retirement.

FOX Business takes a deeper look at the numbers.  

Money and relationship challenges 

  • More than one in four couples identify money as their greatest relationship challenge, and 45% of partners admit they argue about money at least occasionally.
  • More than half of respondents feel very good or excellent about their financial health, and 27% of boomers claim building a financial plan is their "love language."
  • More than a third of couples miss the mark when it comes to how much income their significant other makes. And women are far more likely to credit their partners with having a better understanding of investing matters.
  • Couples disagree on how much they need for retirement, and partners express concerns about retirement, emergency savings and living the lifestyle they’ve always dreamed of.


Sticking points over love and money 

The survey results show 25% of couples and 45% of partners admit to fighting about money. 

"Nearly all couples say they communicate well, if not very well, in general," said Meredith Stoddard, vice president, education, at Fidelity Investments in Boston. "However, there are cracks when it comes to financial discussions, especially with respect to debt and transparency."


The survey said one-third of respondents reported they're concerned about paying off debt, and nearly one in four claim they were unaware of their significant other's money situation before they were in a long-term committed relationship. 

"Additionally, nearly half (46%) of respondents claim they feel more stressed about their finances today than they have in recent years," Stoddard added.  

Man and woman review paperwork on a couch at home.

Couples should come together to review finances and craft budgets if they're planning to stay together long-term. (iStock / iStock)

While most couples feel confident in their partner's ability to assume financial responsibility, there's still work to do when it comes to closing a gender confidence gap, Stoddard said. Interestingly, she noted that while couples generally present a unified front when it comes to money management, men exude more confidence in their abilities, especially when it comes to investing

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Retirement planning divide

For Boomers, it’s a love story. Boomers particularly have the benefit of time on their side, Stoddard also said. 

"Time in the market, as well as the amount of time together as a couple," Stoddard continued. "They're likely to have experienced more trials and triumphs throughout their relationship than other couples. This shows particularly when evaluating stressors across generations as well as feeling financially prepared when it comes to retirement."

The survey also stated that feeling financially ready to retire varies widely by age and generation, with older generations much more likely to feel financially prepared — 84% among Boomers compared to only 26% among Gen Zers. 


active couple riding bikes, retirement

Active couple with bikes (iStock / iStock)

According to Stoddard, while the study shows that most are aligned in their vision for retirement, many couples are not aligned on how they anticipate getting there.

"It's important to have conversations about the logistics, like where you plan to live when it comes time to retire and what you want to spend your time doing," she noted. "Having open and honest conversations about expectations when it comes to managing money as well as expectations around caregiving and how you envision your life are so important."


Tips to save, spend less and plan for retirement

1. Don't assume. Stoddard said don't assume that one person has more knowledge on a certain financial topic just because that person has typically handled that aspect in the past. 

"Also don't assume that you must stick with the roles you've always had in your relationship," she cautioned. Couples should always be checking in and communicating with each other and feel empowered to take on a new or different responsibility within the household, she said.

2. Communicate sooner rather than later. If there are financial matters you're afraid to discuss, bring them up sooner rather than later, Stoddard suggests. 

"You never know how much time and emotional energy you'll get back by being upfront and approaching situations together as a couple," she said.

3. Listen as much as you talk. Make sure to take time to really hear your partner and understand why your partner may feel a certain way about certain things, said Stoddard. 

"Listening and understanding each other are some of the fundamentals to any relationship, but they're so crucial to aligning on how you work together as a couple," she explained. 


These findings were part of the 2024 Fidelity Investments Couples & Money Study, which provides insight on the state of couples and how they manage their finances and financial goals.