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What are the Financial Milestones of Romance?

, by Rob Kaufman

Money is a personal thing. With a new romantic partner, discussing finances can be difficult. When do you tell them about your debt - past or present? When should you discuss your credit scores? When should you even consider lending them money or talking about your financial goals?

Since every relationship is different, everyone's timeline is also different. The Ascent newsletter from The Motley Fool did a survey of over 1,000 people to find out their opinions about finances and relationships. If you're in a relationship, some of these statistics may surprise you... others may not.

The most desired financial trait in a partner is...

Not wealth, as you might assume. No, 70.7% of respondents hoped that their partner would set financial goals. So, it appears that wealth and status aren't as valued as financial ambition and goal setting. As a matter of fact, a high salary was valued as the most desired financial trait by just 32.6% of participants.

What came in second? 70.6% wanted their partner to have full-time employment. Third? A partner who follows a budget (70.4%). Some of the other important traits included:

  • 65.4% - makes payments on time

  • 63.3% - saves a percentage of each paycheck

  • 59.9% - has an emergency fund

  • 54.4% - pays monthly credit card balance in full

And the least most important financial trait? 9.5% want their partner to be a generous spender.

Desired financial traits by gender

Now, let's take the traits most valued by a partner and split them up by gender. Are any of these surprising to you?

Top 5 financial traits most important to WOMEN. They want a partner who:

  1. Has full-time employment

  2. Sets financial goals

  3. Follows a budget

  4. Is financially independent

  5. Has a savings account

Top 5 financial traits most important to MEN. They want a partner who:

  1. Sets financial goals

  2. Follows a budget

  3. Has full-time employment

  4. Makes on-time payments

  5. Is financially independent

Four out of five of these traits are in the top 5 for both men and women. The only difference was that women value their partner having a savings account (not on the men's list) and men want their partner to make on-time payments. What matters most to you? Do these top 5 even make your list?

Desired financial traits by generation

How do age differences affect the importance of a partner's financial traits? We'll list the top 5, most to least important, by generation:


  1. Sets financial goals

  2. Follows a budget

  3. Has full-time employment

  4. Is financially independent

  5. Makes on-time payments

Generation X:

  1. Has full-time employment

  2. Is financially independent

  3. Sets financial goals

  4. Follows a budget

  5. Saves a percentage of each paycheck

Baby Boomers:

  1. Has a savings account

  2. Makes on-time payments

  3. Is financially independent

  4. Has an emergency fund

  5. Follows a budget

Although many of these factors are the same throughout each category, you can easily see the difference in priorities from an age perspective. Which category are you in? Do your priorities match the respondents of the survey?

Marriage milestones... from a financial perspective

So, how long does it take for married couples to reach certain financial milestones? For instance: when do they share online bank information or establish an emergency fund together? When do they merge finances or start a college fund for their children? Here's what the survey showed about marriage and money - from the shortest timeframe to the longest...

  • Created joint budget spreadsheet            1 year, 3 months

  • Moved in together                                       1 year, 6 months

  • Shared online bank information              1 year, 10 months

  • Purchased a big-ticket item                        2 years

  • Established an emergency fund               2 years, 2 months

  • Merged finances                                          2 years, 3 months

  • Planned for retirement                               2 years, 4 months

  • Started college fund for their children    2 years, 6 months

Again, every relationship is different. If your values or timeframes differ from those in the survey, it doesn't mean they're wrong or right. It just means that you and your partner know what's best for your relationship - now and in the long run.

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Rob Kaufman

Rob is a writer... of blogs, books and business. His financial investment experience combined with a long background in marketing credit protection services provides a source of information that helps fill the gaps on one's journey toward financial well-being. His goal is simple: The more people he can help, the better.