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Background

ARE AUSTRALIANS' RELATIONSHIPS BREAKING DOWN BECAUSE OF MONEY?

A Money Study, February 2023

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About the study

Money surveyed 1,010 Australians, 66% (662 respondents) of which were in a relationship. The survey sought to gauge whether financial stress has negatively impacted relationships and which financial stressors have had the biggest negative impacts.

The pool of survey respondents matches the age and geographical spread of the Australian population. 

Have Australian couples experienced financial stress in the last year?

Money sought to discover whether Australian couples have experienced stress surrounding their finances in the last year. Nearly half (41%) of respondents admitted they, or their partner, experienced such stress.

Does financial stress impact men and women differently?

The survey found that more women have experienced financial stress in the last year, compared with their male counterparts.

The results show:
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45% of women

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37% of men

Do some age groups experience more financial stress than others?

Money found that younger Australian couples are more likely to have grappled with financial stress over the last year. More than half (57%) of under-30s admitted they or their partner had been stressed over money. This compares with:

  • 48% of 31–50-year-olds
  • 25% of over-50s

Do people in some states experience more financial stress than in others?

Similar proportions of respondents across the States had experienced financial stress in the last year. Specifically, 45% of NSW and WA respondents had stress over money. This was followed by:

  • 44% of South Australians
  • 36% of Queenslanders
  • 35% of Victorians

Have you or your partner experienced financial stress in the last year? By state

Response

Yes

NSW (%)

45

VIC (%)

35

QLD (%)

36

SA (%)

44

WA (%)

45

ACT (%)

36

Response

No

NSW (%)

55

VIC (%)

65

QLD (%)

64

SA (%)

56

WA (%)

55

ACT (%)

64

ResponseNSW (%)VIC (%)QLD (%)SA (%)WA (%)ACT (%)

Yes

45

35

36

44

45

36

No

55

65

64

56

55

64

Has financial stress negatively impacted relationships?

Among the survey respondents who had experienced financial stress in the last year, nearly half (45%) admitted it had negatively impacted their relationship. Specifically, a third (34%) admitted their relationship had been negatively impacted, while 11% indicated it had not only had a negative impact but had caused them to discuss breaking up with their partner.

Does financial stress and its impact on relationships differ between genders?

Interestingly, the survey found that more men than women felt their relationships had been impacted negatively by financial stress. More than half (51%) of male respondents said their relationship has been impacted. Specifically:

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38% of men indicated financial stress negatively impacted their relationship

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14% said it negatively impacted their relationship and they discussed breaking up

This compares with:

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31% of women, who indicated their relationship had been negatively impacted by financial stress

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9% of women indicated it negatively impacted their relationship and they discussed breaking up

Does the negative impact of financial stress on relationships differ by age?

Money uncovered that the younger the respondent the more likely their relationship had suffered due to financial stress. 40% of under-30s admitted their relationship had been negatively impacted. This compares with:

  • 35% of 31-50-year-olds
  • 25% of over-50s

More younger respondents had also discussed breaking up with their partners due to financial stress:

  • 14% of under-50s had discussed breaking up

Compared with:

  • Just 2% of over-50s

Does the negative impact of financial stress on relationships differ across the states?

A higher proportion of West Australians (47%) than respondents in any other state have suffered the negative impacts of financial stress on their relationships. This compares with:

  • 39% of Victorians
  • 34% of Queenslanders
  • 33% of South Australians
  • 29% of NSW respondents

Similar proportions of respondents across the States had discussed breaking up with their partners due to the negative impact of financial stress on their relationship. Specifically, 18% of NSW respondents had discussed breaking up with their partner. This was followed by:

  • 13% of South Australians
  • 9% of Victorians
  • 5% of Queenslanders
  • 3% of West Australians

Has the financial stress negatively impacted your relationship? Has it caused you to discuss breaking up? By state

Response

Yes, it has negatively impacted our relationship

NSW (%)

29

VIC (%)

39

QLD (%)

34

SA (%)

33

WA (%)

47

ACT (%)

0

Response

Yes, it has negatively impacted our relationship and we have discussed breaking up

NSW (%)

18

VIC (%)

9

QLD (%)

5

SA (%)

13

WA (%)

3

ACT (%)

0

Response

No

NSW (%)

53

VIC (%)

52

QLD (%)

61

SA (%)

54

WA (%)

50

ACT (%)

100

ResponseNSW (%)VIC (%)QLD (%)SA (%)WA (%)ACT (%)

Yes, it has negatively impacted our relationship

29

39

34

33

47

0

Yes, it has negatively impacted our relationship and we have discussed breaking up

18

9

5

13

3

0

No

53

52

61

54

50

100

What aspect of the population’s finances has had the most impact on their relationships?

Money asked the survey respondents to identify the financial area that has impacted their relationships the most. Unexpected expenses topped the list, chosen by more than a quarter (27%) of respondents. Other areas respondents identified as having the most impact included:

1

Low or no income earnings

21% of respondents

2

Overspending by them, their partner or their children

16% of respondents

3

Bills, loan repayments, rent or other due expenses

10% of respondents

4

Fear around not being able to pay for everyday expenses

9% of respondents

5

Not having enough money for ‘big ticket’ items such as holidays

8% of respondents

6

Having to talk about money

7% of respondents

7

The state of their bank account/s

2% of respondents

Do financial stressors differ by gender?

Money found differing perceptions of financial stressors across genders. Specifically, more men than women indicated unexpected expenses had the biggest impact on their relationship, at 31%. This compared with:

  • 23% of women

More men also identified overspending as a major financial stressor on their relationship, by a small margin. Nearly a fifth (18%) of men identified this area as having the most impact. This compared with:

  • 15% of women

In contrast, a higher proportion of women admitted low or no income earned by themselves, their partner or their children had the most impact on their relationship, at 24%. This compared with:

  • 17% of men

Do financial stressors and their impact on relationships differ by age?

Money found that overspending had the most impact on the relationships of younger respondents – a fifth (21%) of under-30s identified this as a major financial stressor. This compares with:

  • 14% of over-30s

A higher proportion of younger respondents also indicated that a lack of income, or no income, had the most impact on their relationship – a quarter (25%) of under-30s chose this financial stressor. This compares with:

  • 20% of 31-50-year-olds
  • 17% of over-50s

In contrast, more older respondents had grappled with unexpected expenses and admitted this had impacted their relationship the most:

  • 31% of over-30s chose this financial stressor

Compared with:

  • 16% of under-30s

Are respondents in different states impacted differently by certain financial stressors?

Unexpected expenses emerged as a top financial stressor impacting respondents’ relationships across the States. Specifically, a third (34%) of West Australians indicated unexpected expenses had impacted their relationship the most. This compares with:

  • 33% of South Australians
  • 29% of NSW respondents
  • 23% of Queenslanders
  • 16% of Victorians

A higher proportion of West Australians had also grappled with overspending and its impact on their relationship, at 28%. This compares with:

  • 18% of Queenslanders and Victorians
  • 13% of NSW respondents
  • 8% of South Australians

In contrast, higher proportions of respondents in Victoria and Queensland indicated that fears around not being able to pay for everyday expenses had impacted their relationship the most, by a small margin. 14% of Victorians and Queenslanders selected this financial stressor. This compares with:

  • 6% of NSW and WA respondents
  • 4% of South Australian

Has the financial stress negatively impacted your relationship? Has it caused you to discuss breaking up? By state

Response

Overspending (by me, or my partner, or our kids)

NSW (%)

13

VIC (%)

18

QLD (%)

18

SA (%)

8

WA (%)

28

ACT (%)

0

Response

Low or no income earned (by me, or my partner, or our kids)

NSW (%)

21

VIC (%)

21

QLD (%)

27

SA (%)

21

WA (%)

9

ACT (%)

25

Response

Unexpected expenses

NSW (%)

29

VIC (%)

16

QLD (%)

23

SA (%)

33

WA (%)

35

ACT (%)

75

Response

When bills, loan repayments, rent or other expenses are due

NSW (%)

9

VIC (%)

12

QLD (%)

9

SA (%)

17

WA (%)

3

ACT (%)

0

Response

Having to talk about money

NSW (%)

8

VIC (%)

7

QLD (%)

2

SA (%)

13

WA (%)

10

ACT (%)

0

Response

The state of our bank account/s

NSW (%)

5

VIC (%)

3

QLD (%)

0

SA (%)

0

WA (%)

0

ACT (%)

0

Response

Fear around not being able to pay for everyday expenses

NSW (%)

6

VIC (%)

14

QLD (%)

14

SA (%)

4

WA (%)

6

ACT (%)

0

Response

Not having enough money for ‘big ticket’ items such as holidays

NSW (%)

9

VIC (%)

9

QLD (%)

7

SA (%)

4

WA (%)

9

ACT (%)

0

ResponseNSW (%)VIC (%)QLD (%)SA (%)WA (%)ACT (%)

Overspending (by me, or my partner, or our kids)

13

18

18

8

28

0

Low or no income earned (by me, or my partner, or our kids)

21

21

27

21

9

25

Unexpected expenses

29

16

23

33

35

75

When bills, loan repayments, rent or other expenses are due

9

12

9

17

3

0

Having to talk about money

8

7

2

13

10

0

The state of our bank account/s

5

3

0

0

0

0

Fear around not being able to pay for everyday expenses

6

14

14

4

6

0

Not having enough money for ‘big ticket’ items such as holidays

9

9

7

4

9

0

Shaun McGowan Money.com.au founder

Written by

Shaun McGowan

Shaun McGowan is the founder of Money.com.au. He's determined to help people and businesses pay as little as possible for financial products, through education and building world class technology. Previously Shaun co-founded CarLoans.com.au and Lend.

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