Relationships are built on compatibility. Whether it's shared interests, preferences, or similar morals and values. Yet, financial compatibility, often goes unnoticed.

When it comes to savings, what makes two people financially compatible? Our research* reveals how couples approach savings in their relationships.

The importance of financial compatibility

Financial compatibility (or lack thereof) can have a big impact on a relationship:

  • The vast majority of people (92%) say that it’s important for couples to have the same outlook on saving money
  • One in five (18%) say that a lack of financial compatibility has previously contributed to a break-up. This is more common in women (20%) than men (16%)
  • Half (52%) of people would be put off pursuing a relationship for saving-related reasons
  • 41% of men say that nothing savings-related would put them off, compared to only 27% of women
  • More people would be put off by someone saving to an extreme extent (21%) than if they didn’t prioritise saving at all (16%)

What types of savings accounts do couples have?

We asked people who are married, in a civil partnership or in a relationship what type of savings accounts they have:

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) have their own savings account
  • 39% have a joint savings account with their partner
  • One in ten (11%) have a secret savings account that their partner doesn’t know about
  • 28% of people with a secret savings account also have a joint account with someone other than their partner
  • 9% don’t have any type of savings account

Secret saving in a relationship

Although many couples choose to save for joint goals and aspirations, saving money can be personal. We asked those with a secret savings account what they use it for:

  • 38% said they already had the account before the relationship and have continued to save in it
  • 37% are secretly saving to maintain financial independence
  • One quarter (25%) prefer to save separately due to saving different amounts to their partner
  • 22% are secretly saving for gifts, experiences or surprises for their partner
  • One in five (21%) say they have a secret savings account as they don’t discuss finances with their partner

Saving an emergency breakup fund

22% of people with a secret savings account are saving an emergency ‘breakup fund’ in case they need to leave the relationship:

  • Half (51%) of people with a secret breakup fund also have a joint savings account with someone other than their partner
  • A quarter (26%) of women with a secret savings account are saving a breakup fund, compared to only one-fifth (20%) of men
  • Saving a breakup fund is most prevalent in people in their 30s

Do couples save equal amounts?

The amount that each person regularly saves depends on a range of factors:

  • Half (50%) of people in a relationship don’t save the same amount of money as their partner
  • It’s more common for men to save more money than their partner (34%) than women (24%)
  • 43% of people who have a joint savings account with their partner do save equal amounts as their other half
  • The biggest reason that couples save unequal amounts of money is due to a difference in earnings (65%)
  • One-third (33%) of people don’t save equal amounts to their partner due to having different spending habits. Of these, 40% have a secret savings account

Savings-related friction in relationships

Financial matters can cause strain on a relationship, with the biggest savings-related stressors being:

  • Having different opinions on saving habits and methods (14%)
  • Disagreeing on when it’s okay to use savings (14%)
  • Wanting to save for different things (12%)
  • Pressure from a partner to save more or less (11%)
  • Not being able to save equal amounts (8%)
  • Finding out about a partner’s secret savings account (5%)
  • Disagreeing on the best savings products (5%)

Creating healthy savings habits

Couples can navigate the financial world together. Once you’ve decided on the best method of saving, you can shop around for the most suitable products. Make sure they align with both your personal and joint financial goals.

Always check customer reviews before taking out a new savings account. It’s important to read about customer’s experiences, both the good and not-so-good stuff. That way, you can make smart choices with your money.

Enjoyed this read? Find expert insight into financial compatibility in relationships here.

* Research was conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of Smart Money People between 12 - 16 January 2024 amongst 2,000 UK adults aged 18+.