Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sex, money and sleeping on the couch

Who watches the money at your house? Reporting more than 300 feature stories involving couples and their finances over the years, I've found that generally one partner is more of a money maven than the other. Despite what tradition and old grade school primers imply, women seem the money hawks in more than half the households I know. Predicting who assumes that role remains a crap shoot, however.

Now a slew of new surveys in the last few weeks show that this recession we're going through is changing these new relationships, even before we have them completely figured out. More women are becoming their families' primary bread winners, reports the Center for American Progress, but that still doesn't always determine who calls the shots.

TD Ameritrade researchers report that 86 percent of women they recently surveyed have been cutting expenses in the recession, compared to only 78 percent of men. They've been cutting deeper too, some of the details suggest. Fidelity Investments researchers found that approximately half the couples they surveyed don't appear to be on the same financial planning page anyway; fewer than 40 percent believe their spouse could successfully take over their household finances if needed. Click here for a quick check to see how you might be doing.

Throw in a lost job, shattered retirement account or similar setback and those fragile foundations tremble. Nearly three Americans in 10 report recession worries have seriously hurt their relationships with loved ones, ING Direct found. The same thing is going on in Canadian, French and German homes too, but not as much as in the U.S., pollsters reported.

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