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Merrill finds Gen Z the Only Ones Left Choosing Love Over Money

By Alex Padalka December 4, 2018

Most Americans prefer to have a partner who can provide them with financial security rather than “head over heels” love, according to the latest survey measuring matters of the wallet and the heart from Merrill Lynch’s Merrill Edge.

Fifty-six percent of Americans want partners who can provide for them financially, while only 44% want someone they’re in love with, according to a survey of 1,034 mass affluent Americans conducted by Merrill Edge. Only those born between 1996 and 2010 appear to be more romantically inclined, with 54% opting for love compared to 47% choosing financial security, the survey found.

Moreover, most Americans prefer a pragmatic partner to an idealistic one. While 37% say they want a socially conscious partner, 63% prefer someone who’s career-focused, and while 45% want someone philanthropic, 55% prefer someone frugal, according to Merrill Edge. And just 17% of respondents want someone who’s a spender, compared to 83% who prefer a saver, the survey found.

“Economic uncertainty and a lack of financial planning seem to be creating this burgeoning trend of dependence on others for financial security,” Aron Levine, head of consumer banking and Merrill Edge, says in a press release accompanying the survey.

Financial advisors may need to step in to address Americans’ perceived lack of financial security. Despite a preference for level-headed spending and saving in their partners, most Americans don’t know very much about their partners’ financial habits.

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Sixty percent of the survey respondents admit to rarely talking about debt with their partners, 57% don’t discuss salaries, 55% don’t address investments and 51% almost never talk about spending habits, Merrill Edge found. And many aren’t sure how much money they’ll need for big decisions: 67% say they aren’t sure how much they need to save to have a baby, 64% say they don’t know how much they’ll need to get married and 51% say they don’t have a “magic number” for a down payment on a home, according to the survey.