The Pulse

Divide-and-Conquer Investing Mentality among Millennial Couples

Millennials most likely to have one partner control family investments, although many feel guilty about making moves without talking to their better half

February 12, 2019 04:05 PM Eastern Standard Time — NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–E*TRADE Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: ETFC) today announced results from the most recent wave of StreetWise, the E*TRADE quarterly tracking study of experienced investors. As Valentine’s Day approaches, the study looked at how investments are managed by couples across age groups:

Money talks aren’t taboo for Millennials
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Millennial couples discuss their investment portfolio on a regular basis, compared to half (50%) of the total population.

Millennial couples are much more okay with their partner calling the investment shots
Over four out of five (82%) millennials are comfortable with their partner making investing decisions without them, compared to roughly half (55%) of the total population.

And Millennial investing decision-makers are much more likely to execute without their partner’s input
Almost two-thirds (64%) of Millennials will make investment decisions without informing their partner, compared to less than half (46%) of the total population.

Yet making those solo decisions causes guilt. Almost half (49%) of Millennial investing decision-makers feel guilty after making a decision without input, compared to less than a quarter (24%) of the total population.

“While it’s promising that this generation is discussing their finances more, it’s less encouraging that they’re making investment choices independently,” said Mike Loewengart, VP of Investment Strategy at E*TRADE Financial. “Millennials face a great many financial headwinds, including student debt, inflated housing prices, and health care costs. The need for families to take a holistic approach to wealth management is arguably even more important for these young savers, and in fact may help to alleviate the guilt registered in the study.”

Strategies For Couples

Mr. Loewengart provided additional strategies for couples to consider when planning for their long-term financial goals:

Examine your risk level as a couple. Ask each other what matters most when it comes to your family’s nest egg. It could be growth, preservation, or something in between. Investors may find that their individual goals are very different from what they hope to achieve with their significant other. Nailing this down early can give couples a runway for smoothly planning their finances throughout their life together.

Expect the unexpected. Unexpected events can often cause relationship tensions. Saving for an emergency fund may seem daunting but could alleviate headaches down the road. Set aside a small amount each week and aim for three to six months of living expenses.

Look under the hood of your retirement plans. Take a close look at your respective 401(k) and IRA options with an eye toward optimizing contributions. If one partner has a dollar-for-dollar employer match and another has a five-percent match, it may be better to direct contributions to the account that has the better match.

Referenced Data

How often do you discuss your portfolio and investing with your spouse or partner?
Top two box50%65%48%44%
Bottom two box13%1%18%14%
How comfortable are you with your spouse or partner making an investing decision without your input?
Top two box55%82%57%40%
Very comfortable21%40%17%13%
Somewhat comfortable34%42%40%27%
Somewhat uncomfortable24%12%24%30%
Very uncomfortable21%6%19%30%
Bottom two box45%18%43%60%
How often, if at all, do you make investing decisions that you do not inform your spouse or partner about?
Top two box46%64%48%32%
Bottom two box31%14%27%44%
How frequently do you make investing decisions without telling your spouse or partner that you later felt guilty about?
Top two box24%49%28%7%
Bottom two box62%33%56%85%


About the Survey
This wave of the survey was conducted from January 2 to January 10 of 2019 among an online US sample of 910 self-directed active investors who manage at least $10,000 in an online brokerage account. The survey has a margin of error of ±3.20% at the 95% confidence level. It was fielded and administered by Research Now. The panel is broken into thirds of active (trade more than once a week), swing (trade less than once a week but more than once a month), and passive (trade less than once a month). The panel is 60% male and 40% female, with an even distribution across online brokerages, geographic regions, and age bands.





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E*TRADE Financial Corporation and Research Now are separate companies that are not affiliated. E*TRADE Financial Corporation engages Research Now to program, field, and tabulate the study. Research Now Group, Inc. provides digital research data and has locations in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. For more information, please go to