Slideshows | June 22, 2017

How couples split the bills and decide on purchases

Who shares the blame for your financial choices? Other people may affect the decisions even if you manage the money yourself, a study shows.

Couples often argue about money, as the saying goes. There may be benefits to working as a team in the home as well as in the workplace – but how many financial decisions in the household are made by just one partner?

Researchers in the multi-year Think Forward Initiative, sponsored by ING, are digging deeper to answer these questions and more. The results may give clues to financial capability and suggest how to help people make the most of their money in future.

Lei Pan, senior economist at ING, working with Tilburg University professor of economic psychology Fred van Raaij and Tallinn University of Technology associate professor Merike Kukk, can confirm that many decisions are made jointly, by both partners in a couple. This depends, however, on what the decision is about.

There is no “I” in team
Pan’s survey, a first stage in a deeper, multi-year investigation, asked 1,116 couples in the Netherlands, including 22 male-only and 20 female-only couples, about their roles in spending and saving, and about the degree of income-sharing per household.

Results confirm that other people typically have influence, to some extent, on almost every financial decision within a household. Boosting financial capability might mean considering the personalities and biases not only of individuals but of their nearest and dearest, as well as looking at how their roles and the relationships are structured and evolve.

Read the full report.



Team travel 
Holidays (65%) or durable goods (63%) are more likely to be shared purchases than clothing, childcare and gifts.


“Where will we go?”
Only 52% research their holidays as a couple, but 87% of couples say the final decision is a joint one.


Dress rehearsal
Just 35% of couples make decisions about children's clothes together. However, 57% say they ultimately split the bill.


No worse for wear
Thirty-seven percent say choosing clothes for themselves is done jointly, with items paid for jointly as well.


"Why should I pay too?"
Males are more likely to say they pay for purchases they had no role in choosing.


Double trouble
Of the couples surveyed, 76% say they share more than half their incomes. Six percent say they do not share earnings at all.

This article is related to the ING International Survey:

Think Forward Initiative - Intra-Household Dynamics 2017

Think Forward Initiative - Intra-Household Dynamics 2017

June 21, 2017

Have you ever wondered who makes more spending and saving choices in the average household? Researchers for the Think Forward Initiative, part-sponsored by ING, asked more than 1,000 couples in the Netherlands how they...


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