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Multi-million pound money secrets of UK couples revealed

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

British couples are keeping millions of pounds worth of money secrets from each other, a new study reveals. 

Prudential’s annual survey of co-habiting couples over the age of 40 found that huge numbers of people hide debts, savings and even income from their other halves.

The results reveal that one in 10 have secret savings, investments and/or pension pots that their partner doesn’t know about, with an average value of £30,300. And one in seven have hidden debts they don’t own up to, averaging £8,000 .

My other half doesn’t know what I really earn…

They also suggest one in eight people conceals their earning from their partner, mainly to maintain their independence, but also to ensure their financial security in case of a break up. A generous one in 10 say they use their secret earnings to treat their partner.

Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement expert at Prudential, said: “Hiding such significant sums in savings or debts from a partner makes financial planning for the future very difficult. For example, taking unexpected debts into retirement could make a significant dent in the joint income that the couple was expecting to be able to live on.

“In addition, keeping income or stashes of cash secret could mean that couples are not making the most of the pension saving tax relief or allowances available to them. A consultation with a professional financial adviser should benefit most couples in planning for their retirement, provided they are open and honest with each other about their individual finances.”

I keep my finances secret because…

The research also shed some light on why people choose to keep some aspects of their finances secret.

Worryingly, given the potential tax benefits of joint pension saving, the most common reason cited for having secret savings is so they can be used to help fund retirement (29 per cent) – an approach more popular with women (36 per cent) than men (22 per cent). Ensuring financial security in the event of a relationship break-up (27 per cent) is the second most popular reason given for maintaining a secret stash.

How my secret debts came about…

The majority (60 per cent) of those with secret debts say they arose from general living costs. However, nearly one in seven (15 per cent) attribute their secret debts to overspending as the result of an emotional event such as a previous relationship break-up. Money spent on holidays and travelling is the main source of debt for one in eight (12 per cent).

Smith-Hughes continued: “The pension saving and retirement income landscape has changed significantly in the last year and there’s no guarantee that there won’t be further changes around the corner. The Government’s Pension Wise independent guidance service is now available to anyone over 50 with defined contribution pension savings and should prove to be a useful service for most couples looking to make joint decisions about their retirement finances.”