25% of Americans Wish They Asked This Important Question Before Saying ‘I Do’

It's never too late to get on the same page with your partner.

There are plenty of topics that couples typically cover before getting married — everything from whether they want to have kids to where they plan to settle down and start a life together. But personal finance might be a topic that couples actually avoid before marriage. Or is it?

To find out whether Americans are talking money before combining their finances, GOBankingRates surveyed more than 500 married adults on the financial and personal topics that they discussed with their partner prior to tying the knot. You might be surprised by how Americans approach personal finance in relationships — and the things they regret not bringing up before heading down the aisle.

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25% of Americans Wish They Discussed Budgeting Before Marriage

The survey found the most common financial topics that respondents talked about with their partners before getting married were their incomes and how to handle bills together, at 47.6 percent and 47 percent, respectively. Other common topics of conversation before marriage were how to manage bank accounts and individual debt, at 40.2 percent and 39.8 percent, respectively.

GOBankingRates’ survey also asked about the personal topics that respondents discussed with their partners before getting married. Nearly 50 percent talked about their relationships with family members, and approximately 46 percent covered their religious beliefs. At 44.4 percent, having children was the third-most popular conversation topic among couples before marriage, followed by whether they wanted to buy a home or rent, at 41.8 percent.

Question: Do you wish you had discussed any of the following financial topics before you got married?

Financial TopicPercentage of Americans
Debt20.7%
Income20.7%
Investments19.9%
Spending habits22.9%
Financial mistakes22.5%
Managing bank accounts21.1%
Budgeting finances24.9%
Handling the bills21.5%
Other1.2%
None of the above57.2%

However, the survey also found that plenty of couples wish they had talked more about money before getting married. The most common thing that respondents regret not discussing before marriage was budgeting. About 25 percent said they wish this financial topic had been discussed before tying the knot.

Other common topics that respondents said they wish they had discussed with their now-spouse were spending habits and past financial mistakes. Failing to talk openly about financial matters can be harmful to relationships — a separate GOBankingRates survey found that the biggest financial deal breaker in relationships is being secretive about money.

Most Americans Think Couples Should Have a Financial Talk Before Getting Married

Overall, GOBankingRates’ survey found that nearly 67 percent of respondents think it’s very important for couples to discuss finances before marriage. Only about 5 percent said it wasn’t important at all to have a personal finance discussion before getting married.

However, approximately 31 percent of respondents said they didn’t cover any of the financial topics that the survey asked about before marriage. And, approximately 26 percent of respondents said they didn’t discuss any of the personal topics that the survey asked about — suggesting that couples were less likely to talk about financial topics than personal ones prior to getting married.

GOBankingRates

That said, an almost equal percentage of respondents said they talked about their incomes and their relationships with family members — 47.6 percent and 48.2 percent, respectively. Couples were also just as likely to have discussed how to handle bills and their religious beliefs, at 47 percent and 46.2 percent, respectively.

Between their finances and personal topics, the subject that couples were least likely to talk about before getting married was their investments.

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Women Communicate More About Money and Personal Topics

Discussing finances before marriage seems to be more important to women than men. GOBankingRates’ survey found that approximately 70 percent of women said talking about money before getting married was very important, compared with about 63 percent of men. Nearly 6 percent of men said discussing money before marriage wasn’t important at all versus only about 4 percent of women.

Not only were women more likely to see the importance of talking about money before marriage, but they were also more likely than men to take the plunge. About 34 percent of men — compared with only 28 percent of women — said they didn’t discuss any of the financial topics that the survey asked about with their partner.

GOBankingRates

Among the women who did talk finances with their partner prior to getting married, the most common discussion was about their incomes, at 51 percent. The financial topic that men were most likely to have discussed with their partner before marriage was how to handle bills, at 45.2 percent.

Both women and men regret not talking about budgeting finances before marriage, according to the survey — it was the top response for both genders, tied with spending habits for men. However, nearly 28 percent of women wish they had talked about budgeting before marriage versus only 22 percent of men.

Question: Do you wish you had discussed any of the following financial topics before you got married?

Financial TopicPercentage of WomenPercentage of Men
Debt23%18.3%
Income22.6%18.7%
Investments22.2%17.4%
Spending habits23.8%22%
Financial mistakes25.7%19.1%
Managing bank accounts22.6%19.5%
Budgeting finances27.6%22%
Handling the bills24.9%17.8%
Other1.2%1.2%
None of the above57.1%57.3%

Women were also more likely than men to address personal topics before marriage. Only 23 percent of women didn’t discuss any of the personal topics that the survey asked about versus approximately 30 percent of men.

Of the women who did talk about personal topics with their partner before marriage, they tended to discuss relationships with family members and their religious beliefs, at 51 percent and 50.6 percent, respectively. These were also among the most common topics discussed by men, but only 45.2 percent talked about relationships with family members and 41.5 percent spoke about their religious beliefs.

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Older Americans Mostly Kept Quiet About Their Finances

Although a majority of respondents in all age groups said it was very important for couples to discuss finances before marriage, older adults were less likely to have actually discussed money before getting married. The GOBankingRates survey found that only 25 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds didn’t discuss any financial topics with their partner before marriage, whereas nearly 43 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds kept quiet about their debt, incomes, investments, spending habits, financial mistakes, bank accounts, budgeting and bills. And, nearly 38 percent of adults ages 65 and older didn’t discuss any financial topics with their partner before getting married.

GOBankingRates

Among the respondents ages 65 and older who did discuss finances before marriage, the most common topic was how to handle bills. This was also the most common financial topic discussed by respondents ages 25 to 34. On the other hand, 35- to 54-year-olds — spanning two age groups — were most likely to have discussed their incomes compared to other financial topics. And, adults ages 18 to 24 were most likely to have talked about spending habits before getting married.

Older adults were also less likely than younger adults to have talked about personal topics before tying the knot. The survey found that nearly 39 percent of adults ages 55 to 64 didn’t discuss topics such as religious beliefs, having children, career goals or relationships with family members before getting married. Only 10.5 percent of adults ages 18 to 24 and 16.7 percent of adults ages 25 to 34 said they didn’t talk about any of these personal topics before marriage.

Question: Do you wish you had discussed any of the following financial topics before you got married?

Financial TopicAges 18-24Ages 25-34Ages 35-44Ages 45-54Ages 55-64Ages 65 and Older
Debt23.7%16.7%23.8%25.9%17.6%17.6%
Income23.7%21.7%26.3%21.3%14.8%20.4%
Investments23.7%20%22.5%20.4%15.7%20.4%
Spending habits13.2%20%26.3%25.9%23.2%22.2%
Financial mistakes26.3%18.3%25%24.1%20.4%22.2%
Managing bank accounts21.1%16.7%27.5%20.4%18.5%22.2%
Budgeting finances23.7%18.3%32.5%27.8%20.4%25%
Handling bills26.3%18.3%26.3%25.9%15.7%19.4%
Other0%1.7%1.3%1.9%1.9%0%
None of the above39.5%61.7%52.5%50.9%67.6%60.2%

The youngest respondents, 18- to 24-year-olds, were the most likely of any age group to wish they had discussed investments, past financial mistakes and how to handle bills. Younger Gen Xers ages 35 to 44 were the most likely of any age group to regret not talking about budgeting, how to manage bank accounts, spending habits and incomes before marriage. And, older Gen Xers ages 45 to 54 were the most likely of any generation to wish they had talked about debt before marriage.

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Previous Generations Also Have Fewer Financial Worries in Marriage

Overall, GOBankingRates’ survey found that approximately 57 percent of respondents don’t regret not talking to their partners about debt, incomes, investments, spending habits, financial mistakes, bank accounts, budgeting and bills before marriage. However, older adults were less likely to have regrets. The survey found that nearly 68 percent of baby boomers ages 55 to 64 don’t wish they had discussed any of these financial topics before getting married.

Older adults also appear to be less stressed about finances in marriage. Nearly 64 percent of adults ages 55 to 64 and almost 67 percent of adults ages 65 and older said they haven’t had any financial worries in their marriage. And, more than half of respondents ages 45 to 54 and respondents ages 25 to 34 agreed with that statement. However, only about 44 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds said they haven’t faced financial stress in their marriage.

Of the people who said they had financial worries in their marriage, respondents ages 35 to 64 — spanning three age groups — were most likely to say that overspending by a partner was the biggest problem. For respondents ages 18 to 24, overspending by a partner was also the top response, tied with a partner racking up too much debt.

Question: What has been your biggest financial worry during your marriage?

Financial WorryAges 18-24Ages 25-34Ages 35-44Ages 45-54Ages 55-64Ages 65 and Older
Partner hiding finances13.2%11.7%12.5%9.3%10.2%3.7%
Partner spending beyond our means23.7%15%32.5%24.1%13.9%11.1%
Partner racking up too much debt23.7%20%15%8.3%8.3%9.3%
Partner not paying their share of bills13.2%5%11.3%4.6%4.6%5.6%
Partner making a bad investment10.5%10%5%13%4.6%5.6%
Partner being too financially dependent13.2%11.7%15%7.4%5.6%13.9%
Other0%5%5%7.4%6.5%6.5%
I haven’t had financial worries in my marriage42.1%56.7%43.8%52.8%63.9%66.7%

One of the best ways to avoid financial worries in marriage is to talk openly about money. In some marriages, a lack of communication about finances can lead to divorce. So, taking the time to regularly discuss money matters might actually help sustain your relationship in the long run.

Click through to discover how happy couples talk about money.

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Methodology: This survey was commissioned by ConsumerTrack Inc. and conducted by Survata, an independent research firm in San Francisco. Survata asked 502 online respondents the following six questions: 1) How important do you think it is for a couple to discuss finances before marriage? 2) Before you got married, did you discuss any of the following financial topics with your partner? Select all that apply. 3) Before you got married, did you discuss any of the following personal topics with your partner? Select all that apply. 4) Do you wish you discussed any of the following financial topics before you got married? Select all that apply. 5) Of the following, what has been your biggest financial worry during your marriage? 6) Why do you wish you and your partner discussed finances more before getting married? Select all that apply. The survey was conducted between Jan. 30, 2019, and Feb. 1, 2019.