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Financial infidelity? A quarter of married people keep financial secrets from their spouse

19th September 2023

  • 14% of people in a committed relationship do not know what their partner earns 

  • 14% do not know how much their spouse has saved

  • A third of engaged couples do not know if their partner has any debt - and a fifth don’t know if their partner owns their own home 

  • One in ten who own a home with their partner don’t know what their share of ownership is - with 9% not knowing how much the mortgage payments are

19 September 2023: Many UK couples are committing ‘financial infidelity’ according to new research from Starling Bank. A quarter (24%) of married couples, and 30% of people in a committed relationship, say they are keeping a financial secret from their partner.

Nearly a third (29%) of married respondents are hiding how much they have in savings, while a tenth (9%) are keeping quiet about whether they own any property. Meanwhile, a fifth (21%) are hiding debt from their partner, and 16% are concealing the loss of money - such as through gambling or poor investments.

Money talks

Many couples are simply not having important money conversations with their other half. One in seven (14%) of those in a relationship say they don’t know what their partner earns, including 9% of those who are married. In fact, just 41% of those aged under 25 and in a relationship say they know their partner’s salary. 

Financial conversations are limited among couples that are married or betrothed too, with 11% of married people not knowing if their partner has any debt and 14% unsure of how much their spouse has in savings. Among engaged couples, nearly a third (31%) say they do not know if their other half has any debt and 22% don’t even know if they own their own home. 

Property ownership appears to be a taboo subject for many; 17% did not talk about whether they owned a property or not until they were engaged, married or buying a home together. 

Many couples trust their partners with their password however; half (50%) know their partner’s mobile phone passcode, 42% know their email passwords and a third (33%) are entrusted with their partner's online banking password.

Unjoined at the chip

Nearly a fifth (19%) of couples are choosing to manage their finances separately, including 12% of married couples, which is leading to uncertainty on the status of household finances. Fourteen percent of those surveyed say they don’t know what is in their joint savings account and 13% wouldn’t know how much they independently have in savings and assets. 

Amongst those who own a home with their partner, 10% say they wouldn’t know what their share of ownership of the home is if they and their partner were to break up, while 8% wouldn’t know how much of the mortgage needs paying off. Nearly one in ten (9%) admit  they don’t even know what their monthly mortgage payments are. 

Rachel Kerrone, family finance expert at Starling Bank said: “All couples manage their finances differently, with some ‘joined at the chip’ and others keeping finances separate, or even secret, from each other.

“Joint accounts are a great way of keeping track of  shared spending - offering full transparency and equal control on both sides. But as couples who take out a joint account can influence each other’s credit score, it is very important to understand your partner’s financial situation before taking one out. Regular conversations about money are vital for financial wellbeing .” 

Starling has summarised the key things couples should discuss before opening a joint bank account.

Notes to editors

Research was conducted by Opinium among 2,191 UK adults, 1,577 of whom are in a committed relationship between 25th August and 1st September 2023.

About Starling Bank

Starling Bank is an award-winning, fully-licensed and regulated bank built to give people a fairer, smarter and more human alternative to the banks of the past. It offers personal, business, joint, euro and dollar current accounts alongside a children’s card. Starling also provides a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) proposition through its subsidiary Engine, using the proprietary technology platform that it uses to power its own bank. Headquartered in London, the bank has offices in Cardiff, Dublin, Manchester and Southampton.


Good Relations on behalf of Starling Bank

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