Credit cards: Who wears the trousers in your household?


Who's the financial boss in your home?


As our relationships develop, we all talk with our partners about our views towards children and our ambitions for the future. But how many of us talk about our attitudes towards money or our household finances?

Recent research from a leading Australian bank has found that almost half of all couples row over money. And as more women take control of their household finances, arguments about money are on the increase.

Men waste the most cash
The research from Westpac found that, contrary to popular belief, four in ten women believe their partner wastes more money on prepaid cards and credit cards, compared with just three in ten men. It appears that the stereotype of a shopaholic woman racking up a huge credit card debt is no longer applicable.

Balance of power changes as to who manages credit cards
Financial experts believe there is a growing power struggle about who looks after the household finances. Westpac's research found that common reasons for arguments about money include:

  • Buying expensive items without discussing it with your partner first
  • Owning a secret account that your partner doesn't know about
  • Earning more, or less, than your partner

The Westpac poll of one thousand people also revealed that women are in charge of managing most household budgets, credit cards and savings accounts. Indeed, one in five women confessed that they do not totally trust their partner with joint finances and credit card debt.

Honesty is the best policy
Honest communication about financial priorities is crucial if arguments are to be avoided, says relationship psychologist John Aiken. Mr Aiken believes that the trend for people to get married later in life (after building up their own wealth base) and the rise in the number of financially independent women with careers both cause arguments about money.

Different personal values about credit card debt and prepaid cards can also lead to problems, says Aiken. "Some people are savers and some are spenders, which often has a lot to do with how we were brought up to think about money."

See related: Marriage and money: Should you keep them separate?; Prepaid credit cards help with budgeting; Psychiatrists weigh in on credit card, loan debt

Published: 22 February 2011