Do Couples Really Split Over Savings and Investment Differences?

Most states allow couples to divorce based on irreconcilable differences. Furthermore, irreconcilable differences are loosely defined as those differences that have caused irreparable harm to a couple’s relationship. With that in mind, it should be no surprise that couples often cite money issues as a contributing factor in divorce.

Now, a new study shows that some of those money issues revolve around differences of opinion over savings and investments. As ridiculous as it sounds, there are couples who claim the root of their marital problems lies in their savings and investment preferences.

Differences in Risk Preferences

The study in question comes from the German Socio-Economic Panel, an organization that conducts annual couples’ surveys. Researchers looked at data from 5,300 couples compiled between 2004 and 2017. Participants were asked about everything from financial matters to their thoughts on sports, careers, and even driving.

Researchers compiled all the data and then adjusted for things like education level and religious belief. When they boiled financial data down to the core, they discovered that couples with strong differences of opinion relating to financial risk preferences are more likely to divorce.

Couples with major differences in risk preference are twice as likely to divorce compared to couples whose differences are considered minor. Researchers extrapolated to determine that risk preferences include savings and investments.

Risk Preferences and Financial Goals

Research findings may be a bit of stretch if taken at face value. Nonetheless, researchers drew a link between risk preferences and financial goals. That link makes their conclusions a bit easier to swallow. Why? Because couples can argue over financial goals even without a savings account or investments to worry about.

The divorce attorneys at Chicago’s ABM Family Law say the idea of financial disputes being a chief indicator in divorces is legitimate. Couples really do fight over money to the extent of ruining their marriages. And sometimes, savings and investments have nothing to do with it.

You might have one spouse who comes into marriage with a commitment to eliminate their combined debt as quickly as possible. The other might be content to give minimal attention to debt repayment in favor of spending to maintain a certain lifestyle. Such a stark difference could easily cause conflict.

Debt a Problem by Itself

Speaking of debt, ABM divorce attorneys say it is a matter of contention all by itself. Being in debt puts a lot of pressure on couples, especially if they don’t see a way out. Stress is further exacerbated by debt collection efforts and the fallout from bad credit. Even without discussing financial goals in any way, couples can fight so much over debt that it irreparably destroys their relationship.

It stands to reason that couples predisposed to fighting over money would also fight about risk preferences as well. This is assuming they have the money to put into savings and investments.

Imagine a couple agreeing to put some money away for the future. After discussing things with a financial advisor, they attempt to determine their combined risk tolerance. One spouse is okay being more aggressive while the other wants to be more cautious. That could cause an argument just as easily as a disagreement over debt reduction.

If the German study is to be believed, divorcing couples sometimes cite differences over savings and investments as the root cause of their troubles. While that may sound a bit far-fetched, money disputes really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Couples fight about money all the time – be it getting out of debt, putting money away in a savings account, or investing for the future.

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