How honest do you think your relationship is when it comes to money?
Financial secrets including hidden investments and hidden debts have been revealed in a study of couples aged 40 and over.
A whopping 31% of couples were found to have secret investments from their spouse or partner, according to Prudential’s research in the UK.
Seven per cent of those squirreling away savings admitted to hiding more than $95,700 (50,000 GBP).
On the flip side, 19% of couples were hiding debts from their spouse or partner and 22% said they don’t trust their partner’s financial decisions and therefore want to keep control of their own finances.
More than a fifth (21%) said their partner doesn’t even know how much money they earn and 44% of those keeping income secrets said their salary is higher than their partner thinks it is.
A quarter of people surveyed had income from another investment that their partner didn’t know about.
Men were 5% more likely to hide some savings from their partner than women, however the reasons for what both sexes wanted to spend their money on were similar.
Although, double the amount of women had secret savings in case of a break up.
When looking at the results of all people surveyed, 33% of those keeping secret savings planned to use that money for retirement.
Other reasons for keeping savings a secret included not trusting their partner on financial decisions (13%), to buy the things they wanted (13%), to go towards a luxury item (11%), to remove access to their personal savings (11%), for financial security in case of a break up (10%), or to support a family member (6%).
Out of the 19% who were hiding debts, 10% of those people had inherited the debt from a previous relationship.
Director of the Westpac Massey Fin-Ed Centre, Pushpa Wood, says that somebody who suspects their spouse or partner is hiding an investment could opt to get legal advice in order to have assets declared.
A statutory declaration could be requested, which is a written statement declaring all assets in the presence of an authorised witness. If that information is untrue it is a criminal offense.
“You need to ask though, why does this distrust exist in the first place in the relationship?” Dr Wood says.
“If it’s the beginning of a relationship, then it’s normal to not disclose everything, but if it’s a long-term serious relationship, then those things need to be discussed.
“Hiding assets and investments indicates a deep-seated mistrust in the relationship.
“Hiding a debt, however, could be because maybe that person is too embarrassed to talk about it, so it’s a different rationale.
“But hiding an investment could have a more sinister meaning behind it,” Dr Wood said.
Clinical Psychologist Susan Harding also agrees that keeping financial secrets is an indicator of a lack of full trust and openness in the relationship.
“It may indicate a fear of being abandoned and left alone, hence an anxious attachment style in the relationship and the need for back up finances.
“It could also indicate an avoidance attachment style of relationship where the person is not allowing themselves to be fully present emotionally in the relationship – keeping a bit of themselves back.
“It is OK though if couples do this with a degree of openness rather than secrecy.
“For example, if they share expenses but have an individual account also, and are both comfortable with this,” Harding said.