February 13, 2014

Americans’ Top Concern: Sex or Money?

Romantic relationships — and fertility rates — are affected by money worries, studies find

Valentine’s Day: a time for some extra romance — or worry.

According to a recent survey, 62% of Americans have money on their mind more than sex. Of those in a relationship, 27% say their wealth worries affect how often they want to be intimate with their partner.

“Open communication about money is a vital part of any romantic relationship, but discussing finances is often stigmatized in American culture,” said Caroline McNally, vice president of marketing at Yodlee, a maker of financial data applications, in a statement.

“This survey shows just how severely financial stress is affecting Americans’ relationships, and underscores the need for easy, intuitive tools and services that take the stress out of everyday financial tasks like budgeting, payments and talking about money,” McNally said.

Yodlee’s survey of about 2,000 adults, conducted by Harris Poll in December, reveals that money-related stress tends to affect the wealthy more than others.

In fact, 26% of those in relationships with a $100,000 or more in annual household income suffer from “altered libidos because of money concerns,” Yodlee says. That’s higher than households earning $75,000-$99,900 (19%).

More than three-fourths of women (77%) think about money more often than sex versus 46% of men. Women seem to have “healthier perspectives about money,” the company says, since roughly the same share women in romantic relationships (28%) as men (27%) find their desire for sex affected by wealth worries, despite the difference in how often they think about them.

The survey shows that 66% of Southerners prioritize money over sex vs. 57% of Westerners. But 33% of Northeasterners in relationships believe their sex drives are affected by money matters vs. 24% of those in the West.

Birth-Rate Blues

Some academic studies have shown the broader relationship between economic conditions and birth rates.

For instance, the economic recession of 2008-2009 was followed by a drop in fertility rates in Europe and the United States, according to Austrian Academy of Sciences and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

This period brought “to an end the first concerted rise in fertility rates in the developed world since the 1960s,” the research groups say, noting that in general recessions tend to be followed by a decline in fertility rates.

Is there a way that financial advisors can help close the love-money gap?

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards consumer advocate Eleanor Blayney highlights seven financial ways to say “I love you” in a recent blog post.

Blayney’s first piece of advice is to “make a date with your sweetie to talk about money,” though Valentine’s Day is probably not the perfect time for such an appointment.

“Many relationships are unions of money opposites," she said. "For example, a saver and a spender, or a money vigilante paired with a money avoider.”

In other words, tread carefully.

And if the two of you “simply cannot talk about money … bring your money issues to an expert on financial matters,” she wrote. “It’s amazing what an impartial third party can do to clarify your issues, set common goals that you can pursue together, and find solutions that can work for you both.”

Who knew? Advisors = cupid.  

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Check out How to Protect Clients From Strippers and Cabana Boys on ThinkAdvisor.

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