Fidelity: Newlywed Millennials Aren't Having the Right Money Talks

Millennials share everything on social media, but when it comes to newlyweds, they are doing a poor job of discussing their finances, which is creating stress and strain in their relationships.

That’s just one of the findings from Fidelity Investments’ Couples & Money study, which found that, while the majority of survey respondents said they are communicating about finances, one-third don’t even know how much the other half of the couple makes, while one-seventh aren’t even sure if their spouse is employed. “Millennials are so open, so we thought they would be different than Xers and Baby Boomers” when it comes to discussing finances, said Alexandra Taussig, senior vice president of lifetime client engagement at Fidelity, in an interview with Investopedia. “That is not the case.”

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Millennial Couples Aren’t Talking About Finances

Life is busy, and millennial newlyweds have to juggle their careers, their marriage and debt. That may be one of the reasons Taussig said many don’t know the basic passwords to access financial documents or when their spouse wants to retire. Fidelity found that more than four in ten couples aren’t in agreement about the age they want to retire. Meanwhile, 54% of survey respondents can’t agree on how much they should save by the time they reach retirement age.

As for their financial documents, the survey revealed that, while a slight majority said they know their spouse’s passwords to bank, credit card, social media and investment accounts, about three in ten couples disagree on whether they provided the information to their spouse. Boomers are the most likely generation to share the information, while millennials are the least likely to know where everything can be found. What’s more, the survey showed that women are more likely to know their spouse’s password than men. “Couples may be talking about money in passing, but they are not having those deeper conversations. They are not coming up with a plan to be together on the same page,” Taussig said.

Debt Adds Stress to Relationships

At the same time that millennial couples are forgoing those important financial discussions with each other, they are dealing with record debt thanks in part to student loans. At last count, the nation collectively owes $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. Fidelity found in its latest survey of 1,662 couples with household income of $75,000 or more or at least $100,000 in investable assets that more than half of the couples said they carried debt into their marriage. For those that did, four in ten said it has had a negative impact.

Among those that said they were concerned about debt, close to half of the respondents said that money is the biggest challenge in their relationship. Underscoring the importance of communication, Fidelity found that, of the couples that brought debt into the relationship, 49% contradict each other as to who has to pay off the debt, while 55% think they are responsible for taking on the debt of their spouse and 33% expect their partner to pay it off. Meanwhile, 67% of survey respondents said they fight about money, while 33% said they have difficulty talking about budgeting and spending.

“Debt really popped as a pain point across generations, but especially for those getting married younger,” said Taussig. “Millennials are bringing more student loan debt and have more regular credit card debt.”

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