A Comparison of Money Management Techniques in Families

Kaitlyn Schmidek, Rebecca Nelson and Preston Pellegrini, Human Ecology 322 students, explore family money management practices.

To gather research material, six couples participated in interviews about the money management system in their home. A predetermined set of questions were used and included questions such as, the number of bank accounts the couple had and who was responsible for certain household expenditures. The interviews were recorded and the interviewees’ answers were written down on a standard document.

While the study only included one common-law partnership, we found a notable difference in this particular couple’s money management style, which may suggest that marital status is a significant determinant of the type of system the couple adopts. The results revealed that married couples were more likely to use a pooling system (incomes are combined to jointly pay for expenditures) while the common-law couple used an independent management system (incomes and expenses remain separate). This seems also to be the case in recent research: only two percent of Canadian couples have been observed to use an independent management system while 52 percent of Canadian couples use a complete or partial pooling system.1,2 No differences were revealed between the two sub-populations’ total household income. As for how the couples viewed money in respect to their relationship, five out of six couples viewed themselves as one financial entity. In general, the results were consistent with our initial expectations.

The majority of couples identified themselves as using a joint money management system and considered themselves as one financial entity. This is important in regards to family businesses, since a couple’s money management style and money values may be correlated to the management style and success of the business.

Additional research is needed in order to solidify the inferences that were drawn with the research completed in this small study. A change in project scope, from single and dual income earning families, to marital status may show more significant differences with respect to the money management system used. Also, a larger sample of couples that incorporated more income variability would allow for comparisons to be made based on the socioeconomic status of households.

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