Skip to content Skip to navigation

Net Worth and Agreement on Spending May Influence if Couples Combine Finances

Net Worth and Agreement on Spending May Influence if Couples Combine Finances

If you are like Dr. John Grable, an endowed professor in UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences and UGA Online professor, your background may lead you to think that all cohabitating couples combine their finances. Grable’s research demonstrates that it is not so.

Research from the University of Georgia surveyed more than 600 individuals who live with their partner to understand behavior surrounding joint accounts. What influences pooling finances?

Expectedly, married participants in the study were 4.5 times more likely to pool their financial resources.  More surprising was that individuals with higher net worth, that is more combined assets than combined debts, were more likely to merge their financial assets. Those with columbine assets equivalent to combined debts were less likely to have combined finances. Those with more combined debt than assets were just as likely to combine finances or not combine finances; that is, this variable had no predictive value for these couples.

The insight is that net worth, not level of debt, mattered in this sample. Other demographic factors such as a larger number of people in their household also made it more likely that couples would combine resources.

Behaviorally, couples who discussed spending openly and agreed on their approach were 105% more likely to pool resources.


Communication is a key

Communicating with partners to create boundaries regarding spending and agreeing on expenses is one of the most important ways to make healthy financial decisions. Financial planners can help couples and individuals determine their priorities and budgets. UGA’s Graduate Certificate in Behavioral Financial Planning and Financial Therapy and Online Master of Financial Planning can prepare and enhance your ability to help couples and individuals make better financial decisions.

To learn more about UGA’s research on joint finances, read the full article.