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How the Cost of Living is Affecting Couples in the UK

High inflation, particularly in key areas like groceries, is forcing many couples to make tough decisions about spending priorities. Where once we might have gone out for a romantic meal at the weekend, we’re instead staying in. In many cases, the knock-on effects go much deeper than that.

Cost of Living in the UK

The rate of inflation in the UK is finally falling, with supermarket price-rises slowing down for the sixth month in a row to around 12%. Overall levels of inflation fell in July to 6.8%, down from 7.9% in June. This has prompted the Bank of England to raise interest rates fourteen times in a row – they now sit at 5.25%. This has put pressure not only on homeowners with mortgages to pay, but on renters whose rates are set by buy-to-let landlords. The actual cost of living will vary from city to city. For a family of four in London, the cost sits at more than three thousand pounds, excluding rent. In Hull, it’s closer to two thousand.

Cost of living as a couple

So, what does this mean for couples? To begin with, couples enjoy an advantage over single people: since they’re sharing a grocery bill, they benefit from economies of scale, and the ability to split the labour in the kitchen. One of you can cook and the other can clean up, for example.

Your relationship, however, is likely to be an early victim of financial pressure. Money worries mean higher levels of stress, which will naturally mean more arguing. Many couples might disagree on spending priorities, which will also cause division. In some cases, a couple might stay together purely because they feel that they can’t afford to separate. This can lead to failing relationships hanging together for longer than they really should.

Wedding day cuts

If you know that you’re in it for the long term, despite all of the money worries, then you might be thinking about cutting down on luxuries on the biggest day of your lives: the wedding day. In a survey of 2,000 UK adults conducted in March 2023 by engagement ring specialists, F.Hinds, around 94% of couples reported looking to cut back on the costs, by sacrificing everything from guests, to venue, to flowers, to dresses. The logic here is fairly sound: it’s better to have a more affordable wedding if it means that there’s less financial burden on the ensuing marriage. Two surprises in the list of popular cuts was the dress (just 18% said they’d compromise here) and the ring (where the figure was 14%).


As well as staying together longer than they otherwise would, many couples are electing to accelerate things during the early phases of a relationship. A survey by the house-sharing website SpareRoom reports that around a quarter of renters would consider moving in with a romantic partner early, for financial reasons.

The cost of living is affecting just about everyone, but some couples are feeling the heat more than others. If you’re concerned about your finances, then it’s worth being open and honest about what your plans are for the future, and what your spending priorities should really be. You’ll give your relationship a much better chance of thriving in the long term if you’re honest!

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