Most millennials say money adds stress to their relationship, but it's just another financial challenge on a growing list

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  • In a survey from Insider and Morning Consult, the majority of partnered millennials said money added stress to their relationships.
  • While slightly more millennials with a financial imbalance – that is, with very different incomes – reported stress, most millennials with similar incomes did as well.
  • But, who’s making more is just another factor adding financial stress to millennials’ lives. Stress over debt is leading many millennials to put off major life and relationship milestones because of money.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

Many millennials in long-term relationships have some level of financial imbalance in their relationships. But, who’s making more isn’t what’s stressing them out.

Insider and Morning Consult polled 2,096 Americans about their financial health and habits, 670 of whom were millennials between the ages of 23 and 38.

Of millennials surveyed who were in serious, long-term relationships, about 88% reported having some level of financial imbalance – making significantly more or less money than their partner. Of these people, 66% said that money caused some level of stress in their relationship. That breaks down into 27% who said that it caused a lot of stress, and 39% who said that money caused some stress.

Millennials in relationships are much more stressed about money than partnered members of other generations. Millennials living with a partner are also stressed, with 65.6% saying that money causes some or a lot of stress in their relationship. According to data from the same survey, Gen Xers also report quite a bit of money stress in their relationships, with about 56% overall reporting money stress. But, boomers in relationships aren’t as stressed, with 64% saying that money doesn’t cause stress in their relationship.

Millennials in relationships who earn about the same amount as their partner report consistent levels of money stress as their financially imbalanced counterparts. About 25% who earn similar amounts report that money causes a lot of stress in their relationships, and 33% say that it causes some stress in their relationships.

It seems that millennials in relationships are stressed about money, no matter how their earnings compare.

Millennials are putting off life events as a result of their money stress

Money might be adding stress to millennials’ relationships … but it’s also adding stress to just about everything else. In the same Insider and Morning Consult study, millennials reported much more stress about all types of debt than other generations did overall. Credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and car loans stressed millennials out.

And that stress means millennials are pushing back major life events because of money.

In a 2018 study by Pew Research Centre, 29% of millennials who aren’t married say that financial instability is the reason they have put off marriage, more than those who say they haven’t found the right person or aren’t ready to settle down yet.

And millennials are delaying other life events, too. As Business Insider’s Hillary Hoffower reports, millennials say they are putting off parenthood because it’s too expensive.

NPR’s Bill Chappell reported that in 2018, the US birthrate fell to its lowest level in 32 years, according to CDC data. The data also shows that once women do have children, they’re doing it later, as women over 30 years old had a slight increase in birthrates. But, Chappell says it’s a sign of the times: “Young people won’t make plans to have babies unless they’re optimistic about the future.”

Hoffower reports that millennials say they are also putting off homeownership, because in many major US cities, it could take up to 10 years to save for a down payment.

Millennials are largely putting off buying and renting longer instead. Business Insider contributor Steven John reports that stagnant wages play a role in the low rates of millennial homeownership. “Housing prices have soared by nearly 40% in the past three-plus decades, far outpacing wage increases and making homeownership much more of a challenge for today’s buyers,” he writes.

With money issues preventing them from taking the next step, millennials in serious relationships are feeling a squeeze.

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