While getting engaged is an important relationship milestone for many couples, almost half of American women would rather skip the ring if they could have the cash instead.
That's according to a new report from financial chatbot Charlie Finance, which surveyed over 500 single women (ages 18 to 40) across the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii. Forty-nine percent said they'd rather have the cash value of a ring to spend on whatever they want. That's especially true among older millennial women (ages 30 to 35). Within this age group, 56 percent said they'd rather take the money.
Women are putting a premium on finding partners who are financially responsible, the survey found. In fact, six in 10 women between the ages of 18 and 40 said they'd think twice before marrying someone with a large amount of debt.
"Women are looking for equality in the relationship. They don't want to have to take on more than their fair financial share," Dr. Jane Greer, a New York-based psychotherapist and relationship expert, tells CNBC Make It.
Women want partners who can carry their weight and help support them (and a potential family) financially, as well as emotionally, according to Greer. "I sometimes see [women] getting out of relationships when they find out [their partner] has debt," she says, adding that she often sees issues arise when one partner is having difficulties maintaining a job, forcing the woman into playing the breadwinner role.
It's best if each partner can financially hold their own; otherwise, women may avoid these connections, Greer says.
When it comes to discussing your finances, most women want to wait until they get to know their partner well. Among the women surveyed, 48 percent said you should only discuss finances if you're in a serious relationship.
Greer, who is also the author of "What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship," says it all depends on your current situation. If you've been spending a lot of time doing joint activities like dinners or weekend trips, for example, then that would be a good time to bring up financial topics (i.e., debts, savings, spending habits), she recommends.
"It simplifies things to address who is going to be paying for what things so that nobody feels financially taken advantage of," Greer says. But she also sees women broach money topics early into the relationship as well, especially when it comes to picking up the tab. "This can be an immediate values conflict," she warns.
The fact that millennials are waiting longer to get married and prioritizing a partner's financial health can be a good thing, says Paola Heneine, growth manager at Charlie Finance. It forces people to get smarter about how the financial decisions they make now will impact them in the future.
"My advice to single women is to always keep your financial independence," Heneine says. "Your credit scores, savings and financial worth have so much value. Never let someone else take advantage of that."
That's about nine percentage points higher than the share of Gen X couples, and an astounding 31 percentage points higher than the share of baby boomer couples who say they have weekly discussions about their finances.
"We're in a better place than we used to be because younger couples are more willing and open to talk about their money — and to address it directly," Greer says.
Finances can often times become a controlling factor when one person is making more money or paying for more things, Greer says. So it's important to make sure you're on the same page as your partner when it comes to your joint and personal finances.
Sharing financial responsibilities and burdens is important to maintain balance and equality in a relationship, she says. Accomplishing financial chores together, such as doing the bills, can create joint decision-making opportunities and open conversations about your needs and goals.
"Sharing facilitates problem-solving and talking — and often it also facilitates fairness so you don't feel your partner is being dictatorial," Greer says.
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