The purpose of this study was to document factors associated with a couple’s decision to manage finances entirely jointly (i.e., pooled), somewhat jointly, or separately. Based on survey data from 636 married or cohabitating respondents, test results showed that married and less well-educated individuals are more likely to pool finances with their partners. Additionally, it was determined that the odds of partners pooling finances increase as the size of a household increases and when the household exhibits a positive net worth. In this study, households with two income earners were approximately 50% less likely to pool their finances compared to households with one income earner. It was further determined that those who reported agreeing on issues related to spending were more than twice as likely to pool their finances as compared to those who did not agree with their partner on issues related to spending. The findings from this study advance the marriage and family therapy literature by showing that financial integration style and financial decision-making responsibilities are separate constructs and should not be used as proxies for one another.
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The data used in this study were originally gathered as part of a scale norming process undertaken by a private firm. Data were released for use in publications upon completion of the norming exercises, which took approximately five years. It was at this time that this paper was conceptualized.
Two additional regression models were run as robustness checks to ensure that problematic family relationships and inheritances were not confounding the regression results. In the first regression model, examining family relationships was measured with the question “Are you satisfied with your relationships with family members?” Those who agreed or strongly agreed were not significantly more likely to combine finances with their partner than those who did not agree or strongly agree (p > .05). The effect of inheritances was measured with the question “Approximately what percentage of your household’s current net worth came from an inheritance, gifts, estates and/or trusts?“ Answer choices between 0% and 100% were permitted. Although this variable was positively related to the likelihood of pooling finances, this relationship was not significant (p > .05). Neither variable’s inclusion in the regression analysis changed findings relating to the other variables.
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The authors wish to thank Dr. Sarah Fallaw for assistance with managing the data file used in this study.
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The authors have no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.
The authors have no competing interests to declare that are relevant to the content of this article.
All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.
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Data cannot be made available; the data were obtained from a survey managed by a private organization; this organization owns the data copyright.
This research involved human participants through an analysis of secondary data. Informed consistent was obtained by the organization that managed the survey.
This paper was based on dissertation work conducted by the first author.
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Kruger, M., Grable, J.E., Palmer, L. et al. Factors Associated with Couples Pooling their Finances. Contemp Fam Ther (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10591-023-09666-9