Money is such a touchy topic that couples fight over it an average of three times a month, when they aren't deceiving each other about money to avoid an argument, according to a survey commissioned by the American Institute of CPAs.
Conflicts about children, chores, family or friends are bound to happen in any co-habitating relationship. But none of those compare to the frequency and intensity of household battles related to the almighty dollar.
The survey of 1,005 adults conducted between March 8 and 11 by Harris Interactive found money is the No. 1 most volatile topic in American households, and the number of arguments prompted by financial matters tends to rise with the age of the couple.
Married and unmarried couples between the ages of 45 and 54 will rumble an average of four times a month, which indicates they feel the stakes are higher as retirement age gets closer and time begins running out to save for a secure financial future.
"These days, money is a little tighter than in past years," said Kelley Long, a spokeswoman for the institute's National Financial Literacy Commission. "A $50 purchase now is a bigger deal and worth fighting over, whereas in the past they might have said it's not worth an argument."
Opposites often attract and that is especially true when it comes to love and money. The financial arguments most often stem from differing opinions of "needs" versus "wants." A good 58 percent of those who bicker with their partners about money said this is the most common cause.
With divorce rates hovering in the 50 percent area, the study sheds some light on what is causing many marriages to break up.
"We had a hunch it had to do with money," said Ms. Long, a CPA and owner of KCL Financial in Chicago. "We weren't surprised to find that most of the fighting is over money, and fighting leads to divorce.
"In my practice, I see money as a huge source of conflict between couples."
Jonathan Cox, senior manager of media relations for the New York-based American Institute of CPAs, said members of the organization work with couples across the country and have seen first-hand the challenges that money can cause.
"We wanted to highlight the importance of open, honest communication about money matters in relationships," Mr. Cox said, "and it seemed quite timely now during wedding season."
The survey also found that three in 10 adults who are married or living with a partner admitted to deceiving their partner about money to avoid an argument. This included hiding purchases, keeping work bonuses and lottery winnings from their partner, and siphoning large sums of money from a joint bank account without discussing it with their partner.
Interestingly enough, the survey found married adults living in the Northeast are significantly more likely than those living in the South to have hidden purchases from their spouse.
The methods of deception include bringing one shopping bag into the house while leaving the other three shopping bags in the trunk of the car until their spouse leaves.
Other survey respondents reported taking the price tags off of new clothes and pretending the clothes are old in order to avoid a confrontation with their partner.businessnews - yourbiz
Tim Grant: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1591. First Published May 9, 2012 12:00 AM