It’s not you, it’s your bank account: Australia’s biggest financial relationship deal breakers

Kelly Emmerton

16 Nov 2018

Relationship deal breakers content

Key points

  • Excessive spending on gambling, booze and smoking tops the list of romantic money deal breakers

  • Nearly half of Aussies say a partner in $10,000 of debt would spell the end of a romance

  • Always “going dutch” is a dealbreaker for more women than it is men

You can’t put a price on love, but between bad credit card debt, questionable spending habits and a lack of money savvy, financial matters play a bigger part in our relationships than some people may realise.

“You may not think love and money go hand in hand, but financial compatibility can be really important when it comes to finding and maintaining a healthy partnership,” Mozo Director Kirsty Lamont says.

“Being on the same page when it comes to money takes one major source of stress out of a relationship, especially once you get to the point where you’re combining your savings or making big financial commitments together.”

So we asked over 1,000 Aussies what they consider deal breakers when it comes to money in a relationship. Here’s what they had to say.

Major financial deal breakers for Aussie relationships

When it comes to major deal breakers, most Aussies are in agreement: excessive spending on gambling, smoking and booze tops the list. 4 in 5 people said this kind of destructive spending would mean gameover for a relationship.

Almost as many (76.8%) said lying about your financial situation was a deal breaker, with an inability to pay for basic expenses (71%), a reliance on credit (62%) and not being able to budget properly (58%) rounding out the top five behaviours Aussies won’t put up with in their romantic interests.

“Most of the top deal breakers seemed to be about not managing money wisely, lying or not planning your finances. These may all point to a person’s attitude about money, rather than their current financial situation or net worth,” Lamont says.

Debt, super and inherited wealth: other barriers to Aussie love lives

But money attitudes weren’t all that Aussies were concerned about when it came to a potential partners financial set up. Poor credit, a languishing super balance and even having no family money were also among the major deal breakers for survey respondents.

Debt was one concerning area, with nearly half of Aussies saying a $10,000 debt would be a deal breaker, while 37% drew the line at $5,000 of debt - not that much more than the average Aussie credit card debt of $4,400.

“It’s not surprising to see many Aussies wouldn’t be thrilled about a partner with high levels of debt or no savings to their name. The good news is this is the kind of thing you can work to change - paying off debt and opening a savings account might make you a more attractive dating prospect, as well as boosting your financial health,” says Lamont.

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Battle of the sexes: where men and women disagree

Although for the most part Aussies were pretty consistent when it comes to what qualifies as a deal breaker, there were some areas that divided the nation between women and men.

For example, a lack of financial independence was inexcusable for 70% of females but just 40% of males. Women were also far more likely to rate not having any financial goals as a deal breaker (60% compared to 40% of men).

Always wanting to go dutch - a controversial issue for first-daters everywhere - was a deal breaker for 34.4% of Aussies. But broken down by gender, it obviously bothers women (42% labelled it a deal breaker) more than men (26.6%).

In fact, more women than men rated each behaviour as deal breakers - except in one case: family money. 22% of men said having no family money was a deal breaker for them, whereas only 17% of women did.

What’s the ideal salary for your ideal partner?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, more men expected to be higher earners than their partner, and more women expected the reverse. But the good news is 88.8% of Aussies said they would help a romantic partner out financially if the situation called for it.

And, drum roll please…. When it comes to a dollar figure, Aussies overall expected their partner to earn just a little under $80,000, with the average expected salary clocking in at $79,844.56.

Let’s talk about $$$: how couples discuss money matters

So if money is an important part of picking out Ms or Mr Right, then how do Aussies go about having the ‘money talk’?

Most Aussies expected transparency about their partner’s financial situation within the first year, if not before and over 80% said they would simply ask. However, not everyone is quite so upfront - 1 in 10 admitted to checking bank account balances to get a gauge on a partner’s financial health and habits.

But these sneaky methods may not be the best way to go about it, and Lamont urged Aussie couple to be honest when it comes to finances.

“When it comes to love, we’re all looking for different things. While it may be uncomfortable to talk about money, a couple’s approach to finances can play a huge part in the success of your relationship,” she says.

“Whether you’re looking for a piece of the family ‘inheritance’ pie, expecting to have completely separate finances or hoping to build assets with ‘the one’, it’s good to get these things out in the open.”

Money problems in relationships

As many as 44% of people reported that they prefer to share finances once in a serious relationship, and 36% had shared finances but also kept a separate bank account with independent funds. Just one in five Aussies chose to keep finances totally separate.

So it probably comes as no surprise that money can occasionally become a source of conflict in romantic relationships. One quarter of Aussies reported that money had created a sense of imbalance in their relationship, while one in five admitted they’d had past relationships that ended because of money problems.

“With skyhigh debt, stagnant wages, and expensive housing, the cost of living is causing major strain on many relationships. Nearly one in three Australians in a relationship claimed they fight about money at least once a month,” Lamont says.

“While you may not be able to change how much you earn or the current state of your bank balance, striving for financial transparency in a great foundation for any relationship.”

How to talk to your partner about money before it becomes a deal breaker

Bad money habits and dismal savings don’t have to sink your relationship - as long as you know how to tackle these kinds of issues in your relationship. But if you don’t even know where to start, check out these tips for having the “ money talk” with your partner.

  • Avoid pointing the finger. Money can be a touchy subject - especially when it comes to things like debt, or spending habits. If your partner feels like you’re accusing them, they may become defensive and that can quickly shut down conversation. Instead try to approach discussions about money in an open, non judgemental way.
  • Give as much as you take. If you’re asking your partner to disclose their financial situation, then it’s important to be equally as open with your own. And if the thought of them knowing what’s in your bank account makes you squirm, then maybe that’s a sign you’re not ready to take that step in your relationship - or that you need to clean up your own financial habits.
  • Offer practical solutions. If your partner has opened up about their financial problems and is comfortable with you helping out, try to offer practical solutions to the problems. For example, if your partner has some lingering credit card debt, you might want to suggest looking into a balance transfer card. Or if budgeting is the issue, you might sit down together and hammer out a financial plan.
  • Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your partner (or potential partner) likely won’t change their habits overnight. Once you’ve brought up an issue that’s bothering you, try to be patient and give them time to sort the situation out and get used to doing things differently, whether that means ditching the dutch method every so often or weaning themselves off a credit card reliance.

And, if you’ve reached the point in your relationship where you’re ready to marry your finances and open a joint savings or bank account, head over to check out some high interest savings accounts for your long-term stash or some handy bank accounts for everyday spending.