There seems to be a never-ending number of sources couples can tap for financial advice: financial professionals, friends and family, financial apps, magazines and more. For most couples, using a professional is still the preferred source of financial guidance. More than 40% of couples use a financial planner as their primary source of financial advice, according to a Policygenius survey.
But who couples trust with their money depends on factors like their marital status and age.
The survey was based on responses from a nationally representative group of 1,526 adults across the U.S. All of them were in relationships and lived with their partner. Google Surveys conducted the survey from Aug. 28 through Aug. 31.
Combining finances may take a professional
Married couples are more likely to rely on financial professionals for advice. 41.4% of married couples say a financial adviser is their primary source of financial advice, compared to 33% of unmarried couples.
Alex Koury, wealth advisor at Values Quest, said married couples are more likely to merge their money, which may require a professional to help.
“There’s a lot that goes into the planning process of combining finances,” said Koury. “A financial planner can really help with that.”
Our survey speaks to this: 41% of married people pool income and split expenses equally compared to 19% of unmarried people. Koury said in a marriage, anything one partner does financially affects the other. He said it's usually not the same with unmarried couples.
“When you aren’t married, you can usually just break away without any financial loss,” he said. “Most people don’t consider money part of the relationship until they say ‘I do,’ so they don’t think to go see a professional.”
Age also matters
Where a couple turns for financial advice depends on their age, as well. The survey found 49.6% of couples over 55 years old get financial advice primarily from professional advisers, while only 31.5% of couples under 35 use professional advisers. A majority of those under 35 get financial advice from a combination of family, friends and online sources, including financial apps.
Koury said it’s a sign of the times.
“It’s the generation we’re in today,” he said. “We want the most advice and information for the least amount of effort. It’s easier for some to talk to an app, computer, algorithm than seek financial help face-to-face.”
Certified financial planner Sallie Thompson said younger couples are also likely to turn to their parents for support. Our survey supports this. 23.3% of those under 35 in a relationship list their parents as their primary source of financial advice. Only 11.3% of those over 35 do the same.
A drawback of financial planners for many young couples is cost, said Dave Alison, president of Alison Wealth Management.
“Many younger couples don’t feel they have a ton of money to take on an adviser, or that their money could be better spent somewhere else,” said Alison.
Where’s the best place to get financial advice?
Koury said the best source of financial advice depends on your lifestyle and preferences. Those with complex finances or specific financial problems may want the reliability and experience of a financial professional.
“Chances are, we’ve seen whatever financial problem you’re having,” Alison said. “And can objectively help you.” (Here's how to tell which type of financial adviser is right for you.)
Paul Golden, a spokesman for National Endowment for Financial Education, said those who have more straightforward finances and want to prioritize convenience and preserving costs should consider sticking to financial apps and discussing issues with friends and family members.
But not all advice is created equal.
"You don’t know everyone’s background or financial situation," said Koury. "They may have a bias because something worked for them that may not work for you.”
Golden agrees. No matter which source you and your partner entrust with your money, make sure they are reliable.
“Not only should it be someone you trust, it should be someone you can hold accountable,” he said. “They should have your best interests in mind.”
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