Love or money? Cultural shifts around wealth and romance

Love or money? Cultural shifts around wealth and romance

Australian attitudes to money and relationships are changing, in part due to cultural shifts, though some romantic and financial traditions are dying hard, according to a survey from Greater Bank.

The online survey, commissioned by Greater Bank in December 2017, asked a representative sample of Australian adults aged 18 to 65 about their attitudes to money in relation to dating, their ideal partner, relationships and weddings.

According to Greater Bank, the gender pay gap is one of the largest contributing factors to Australian attitudes to money and relationships, with the gap increasing from 14.9% in 2004, to 15.3% in 2017.

Another significant factor was found to be that the iGeneration (aged 18-24 in 2018) is set to become the first generation with more female breadwinners than male.

“In the light of cultural movements towards gender equality, such as Australia’s Equal Pay Day Alliance and the #metoo campaign, we can see the potential influence this has had on our results.”

“Notably, iGen exhibit the smallest correlation in financial disparities within the context of gender. This could also explain why our results show that Australians display greater satisfaction when they’re able to maintain financial independence.”

“However, with most Australian couples holding their finances in a joint bank account; we can also see Australians still hold true to somewhat traditional gender roles in their relationships when it comes to finances.” – Greater Bank

Money and dating

According to the survey, nearly half of heterosexual-identifying Australians are solving the sometimes-awkward question of who should pay on the first date by “going Dutch”, with 49% of those surveyed choosing to split the bill, followed by 44% of men paying, and 7% of women. The generation most likely to split the bill was found to be the iGeneration with 59%, followed by Gen X with 54%, Millennials with 48%, and Baby Boomers with 45%.

Men were found to expect to spend $50 more than women on a first date ($122 compared to $71). Australia’s big spenders were found to be in New South Wales, where residents expect to spend more than any other state on a first date ($109).

Looking past the first date jitters, while Aussies were found to send upwards of $200 on anniversary gifts at the start of a relationship, the longer a couple stayed together, the less they would spend on similar gifts, including birthday and Valentine presents.

The ideal partner

Awkwardness around income was found by the survey to be becoming less of an issue for many Aussies, with 87% of those surveyed being willing to date someone who earns less money than them, with the iGeneration being especially represented here. Also, the majority of Australians surveyed (95%) said that they felt comfortable discussing finances with their partner.

That said, two thirds of those surveyed would be bothered by their partner earning a lot less than them, while one third would be bothered by their partner earning a lot more than them.  

Aussies were also found by the survey to value looks more than money, with 71% preferring a poor but attractive partner over a wealthy but unattractive partner.


Money was found by the survey to be a pain point in many relationships, with 82% of those surveyed agreeing that money creates tension. While 19% of those surveyed had attributed a past relationship breakdown to finances, this figure was more strongly represented (42%) among separated couples.

The survey also found Australia’s top five most frustrating financial behaviours in a romantic partner: 

  • Being careless with money – 95%
  • Telling people how to spend your money – 92%
  • Borrowing money from other people – 90%
  • Being secretive about money – 89%
  • Lending money to other people – 82%

Despite the pain money potentially brings to couples, combining money into one joint account was found to be the most common way for couples to manage their finances (49%). Australian couples were found to be most likely to feel comfortable opening a joint account once they’re married (45%).

While 59% of couples agreed to contribute equally to household expenses such as rent, food and utilities, men were found to be three times as likely as women to be the primary contributor, and also three times as likely to be responsible for managing the finances.

Wedding bells

Expectations around the cost of weddings were found to vary by both generation and by gender, with men expecting to spend $1260 more than women on a wedding, and the iGeneration expecting to spend more than previous generations ($17,003, compared to $14,660 for Millennials, $12,635 for Gen X and $9835 for Baby Boomers).

Residents of New South Wales were also found to expect to spend more on a wedding than residents of other states (ACT, TAS and NT not reported due to sample size):

  • NSW – $14,409
  • VIC – $13,494
  • QLD – $13,112
  • SA – $12,655
  • WA – $10, 091

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