PYMNTS MonitorEdge May 2024

Expense-Sharing Apps Adapt to Changing Relationship Dynamics

Budgeting and managing expenses are fundamental aspects of individual financial well-being. 

However, when it comes to couples, these practices take on a heightened significance. Financial disagreements rank among the top contributors to relationship strain and even divorce, underscoring the critical importance of effective money management in maintaining long-term stability and harmony within a partnership.

But gone are the days of traditional gender roles dictating financial responsibility within relationships. Instead, today, couples are embracing innovative approaches that prioritize collaboration, transparency and autonomy, with each individual taking an active role in managing their finances.

The rise of shared finance platforms and apps like Tandem reflects these societal shifts in attitudes toward money and relationships. 

“Nearly 70% of our most active couples are female-led, as in the female downloaded the app first and invited their partner to it,” Tandem co-founder Michelle Winterfield told PYMNTS, adding that “times are different, and women want and should have equitable involvement in the finances of their relationships.” 

Launched in August 2023 and recently securing $3.7 million in seed raise, the subscription-based app tailors financial services to couples, who can save and plan for financial milestones together, whether they have joint or separate accounts, and regardless of whether they opt to manage their finances jointly or separately.

“Tandem isn’t your typical financial planning app. We rethink the entire household financial journey and center it around experiences that allow couples to participate in an equitable and transparent way,” Dan Couvreur, co-founder of Tandem, added. 

As per the company’s data, Tandem couples have collectively shared over $65 million of expenses since the platform’s launch, with top expenditures being rent and mortgage payments, along with Amazon purchases, Uber rides, and shopping from popular brands including Trader Joe’s, Target, Costco and Whole Foods.

Winterfield also highlighted the most common milestones Gen Z and millennial couples are saving for on the app: weddings, home-related expenses (such as purchasing, furnishing or renovating), starting a family and vacations. On average, couples are budgeting between $5,000 and $20,000 for these goals, she said.

Last year, the FinTech firm partnered with Prizeout, giving couples the option to increase their purchasing power on everyday expenses. By opting to shop with Prizeout’s selection of 1,300-plus brands, users can receive up to a 20% bonus instead of a straight cashout. 

“We built Tandem to create a better option for couples who share finances — a solution without friction, with transparency, and ultimately now, rewards,” Couvreur said at the time.

Adapting to Relationship Timelines

Looking ahead, the shared financial management landscape is poised for growth, mirroring broader societal shifts towards collaboration, transparency and equitable participation. 

This evolution promises further advancements, enabling smoother navigation of financial complexities, while fostering stronger, more resilient partnerships in the process.

However, a shift in relationship timelines, where couples are now marrying later in life, presents challenges in achieving financial milestones compared to previous generations. 

“By delaying marriage, many couples now struggle to access money milestones at the ages previous generations achieved them due to a lack of access to financial incentives and the willingness to combine assets,” Winterfield explained.

It’s a challenge that Tandem aims to tackle by supporting couples throughout their entire relationship journey.

“Our goal is to provide couples with a platform that promotes transparency and equitable involvement from both parties,” she said, “through engaging in-app experiences, the team will continue to utilize data-driven insights to optimize couples’ financial product suites.”