Almost everyone believes that openness about finances is important to a relationship. A new survey from CreditExpert.co.uk reinforces the point, with 89 per cent of British adults agreeing. But the true facts show a very different story. Most of us do not share our debt problems with our partners until the debt has .spiralled out of control
Almost one in five adults in a relationship admits they haven’t told their partners what they owe – which means that they are hiding up to £30 billion of debt.
20 per cent told researchers for the online credit monitoring and identity fraud protection service that they are not telling their partners what they spend every day either.
Ten per cent – equivalent to 3.2 million people – have even set up a secret bank account that they keep to themselves, while 15% aren’t telling their partners the true level of their earnings or bonuses and another ten per cent make secret purchases from joint accounts.
Peeking at the paperwork
Perhaps not surprisingly, more than a quarter of those in a relationship (27 per cent) have decided to take their partners’ financial honesty with a pinch of salt and sneak a look at their bank statements or pay slips on the sly. Women are more suspicious than men, with 31 per cent looking at their partner’s paperwork, against 24 per cent of men.
CreditExpert director Darryl Bowman says, “If you have something to hide, you might want to consider that one joint application for credit with your partner creates a ‘financial association’ on both of your credit reports and that means your financial behaviour could impact your partner’s finances, including their ability to get credit. Couples should be honest about money, particularly if you are already financially linked and if you plan to have joint accounts in the future.”
“A simple way of finding out if you are financially linked with anyone is to look at your credit report. If you find someone else’s name, their financial track record could affect your chances of getting credit.”
Don’t avoid the truth
Many of us don’t like to face up to what’s happening, ten per cent of the survey’s respondents say they are ashamed of their finances, with an equal number worried about how their partner would take it if he or she knew their true financial situation. A further 18 per cent say they simply don’t want their partners to know everything.
A lot of those people might well be among the 13 per cent – around 4.2 million of us – who have hush-hush credit cards or store cards their partners don’t know about.
And some of those will be among the seven per cent so stressed by current economic circumstances that they are clamming up about their finances. The same number of people is playing tit-for-tat: their partner won’t be honest with them, so they also refuse to be open. One in 20 report that their last relationship failed because of their partner’s lack of frankness about money.
The fashion factor
Gender differences also come into play. While 17 per cent of men aren’t telling their partners what they really earn, against 13 per cent of women, 28 per cent of females do not own up to the full amount of their spending on clothes and shoes, against 11 per cent of men.
There are also some wide regional variations. Londoners in a relationship are most likely to play their financial cards close to their chests, with 29 per cent not admitting their true level of debt, 26 per cent not saying how much they spend on fashion and 24 per cent not revealing the real extent of their earnings.
The Welsh are least likely to own up about how much they spend in general, at 28 per cent, followed by those in Scotland, the North-West and the East, all on 22 per cent.
People living in the east are least likely to say how much they spend on a night out (21 per cent) – but just ten per cent of people in Yorkshire and Humberside would hide the cost.
Those in the East Midlands are the most likely to be honest about their earnings – only nine per cent hide the amount – but the North West is the place to be for people who want to hide the number of credit or store cards they use, with 19 per cent keeping the amount back from their partners.
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* Research plus interviewed 2,000 British adults for CreditExpert
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