How the other half live: are you in the dark over your partner’s finances

Posted by Ben Tumilty in Personal Finance on 30 November 2016 - Ben is a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile

“What’s mine is yours, and yours is…not mine?” That is definitely not how the vows go. But according to financial services group Prudential, more than one in six of us admits that they have not told their partner how much they earn.

17% of us keep our other halves out of the loop when it comes to what we take home each week, month or year. Of these, 46% said their salary is higher than their partners are led to believe; whilst almost a quarter are keeping quiet about taking on overtime or additional jobs to supplement their incomes.

In some cases, there are obvious reasons why this is not being discussed – one in four of those secret earners said they keep their income a secret should their relationship turn sour, so they have a fall-back if required.

Some of those responding said that they had taken out savings accounts and made investments, with a large number of these having put more than £50,000 away – not an amount to be sniffed at. At the other end of the spectrum, 15% said that they have more than £9,000 in debts owed on credit card, loans or mortgages.

Kirsty Anderson from Prudential expands on the survey details. She says, “Each year we speak to couples about money and retirement planning and each year we see large numbers of people making secret financial decisions, often assuming they’re doing what’s best for them and their partner.

“However, many of the tax benefits of pension saving are more valuable when applied to a couple’s finances as a whole, so secret money decisions could actually be having the opposite to their desired effect and jeopardising future income in retirement. In many cases people’s income will inevitably fall when the time comes to give up work, and the impact of repaying a secret debt when retired shouldn’t be underestimated.”

Anderson believes that communication about finances is vital in a relationship and goes on to stress this, “Having an open and honest conversation about savings, income and debt can help couples avoid any nasty shocks when the time comes for one or both of them to retire. A joint consultation with a professional financial adviser should also help many couples make the right decisions about getting their finances in the best shape and ensure they are doing as much as possible to prepare for a comfortable retirement.”

There is not a blanket right or wrong answer to whether you should tell your partner about your finances – each situation is different, and in some cases may cause more issues than it resolves. If you are concerned, we would recommend seeking some independent financial advice – many financial advisors will offer their first session for free, so it is worth looking at this, or going to somewhere like Citizen’s Advice for free impartial guidance.

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