Does honesty in your relationship extend to money?
Honesty in a relationship means different things to different people. A harmless lie about whether or not someone’s having a bad hair day might pass for most couples – where extra-marital affairs probably wouldn’t.
Not all decisions about what should be kept a secret are this clear cut though – and money often sits in the ‘grey area’ between truth and dishonesty – especially as there are so many different types of ‘financial truth’ that could be told.
There have a been a host of recent studies on which financial topics are discussed openly in relationships – and what can often stay as a secret. We’ll look at the biggest topics and why people might feel the need to bend or avoid the truth…
Child maintenance payments
It might be surprising to hear – as it often indicates that a person is being dishonest about bigger life circumstances – but non-disclosed child maintenance payments feature highly on the list of things that couples keep from one another.
In some instances, this could be a conversation that’s glossed over early in the relationship and becomes increasingly difficult to broach further down the line – especially if it feels like it will have a big impact or jeopardise an otherwise good match.
A payment that can be significant in size might seem like one that’s difficult to hide – but as fewer young couples opt to open joint accounts and share money entirely – it is more than possible.
Secret bank accounts
Around 1 out of every 7 adults in the UK admits to having a secret bank account that their partner knows nothing about – and there’s a variety of reasons why.
For most, the idea of submitting all their financial resources to a partner felt risky and would compromise their sense of financial independence. For others, a sense that their money would be spent too freely by their partner was the reason for holding some of it back.
Bad credit rating
For some people, the idea of having a bad credit rating, a Trust Deed or an IVA could appear unattractive to a partner. It can mean the amount of credit extended to that person is limited – and this might be perceived as hindering any lifestyle goals a potential partner has, hence, it’s unlikely to be topic for first date discussion.
That said, the reason for holding back info on a bad credit score isn’t necessarily related to on-going financial goals – many people feel that a poor credit rating reflects unattractive personality traits – especially ones that might suggest irresponsibility, carelessness and disorganisation.
Of course, the reality is very different – as most people find themselves with financial difficulties as a result of unfortunate work and life circumstances, but the negative perceptions remain…
Somewhat tied to the idea of financial independence is the prospect of having enough money saved so that if circumstances arise, leaving a relationship is a financially viable possibility.
This is something that’s rarely shared with a partner though – and when asked, it’s because people feel it will indicate they’re not fully committed, effectively having ‘one foot out of the door’ at all times. If this is a possibility you’ve got covered, you’re not alone – 1 in 10 adults in the UK admit to having a secret stash that would give them the means to leave a partner if they wanted to.
Loans, mortgages, finance agreements, store cards, overdrafts – the list of possible areas in which debt can occur is huge – and it’s something that’s not always disclosed in relationships.
In some cases, living beyond a person’s financial means is a charade that’s started in the early days of a relationship and been difficult to reel back in from there. There can be a perception that wealth is attractive – and without it that person’s attractiveness will be diminished. While this is overwhelmingly not the case – it can be a hard thought for a person to rid themselves of – and therefore debt features highly on the list of couple’s financial secrets…
In many instances, it’s easier to have an unspoken credit card ready to use in the event of a relationship emergency than it is to have a savings account filled and ready to go. That said, being a backup for ‘escape cash’ isn’t the only reason cards are kept quiet.
Having a spare credit card with an available balance means spending can be kept away from shared accounts – effectively hiding purchases. A card is also a good way of keeping any hidden encounters or relationships in the shadows too – hotel charges that appear in your current account statement might be difficult to hide – but the majority of credit card accounts can be handled entirely online, meaning activity outside the relationship is hidden behind emails and passwords.
In some instances, having a student loan could be worn as a badge of honour – proof that you’ve pursued education, even if it’s come at some delayed cost.
Whatever happens though, a student loan does impact a person’s ability to spend – and it’s a debt that can stay with a person for years – if not decades. The biggest reason for couples hiding student debt relates to the actual university course – and often whether or not it was completed. Of the respondents asked, 50% of those not being honest about tuition fees and loans were doing so because they hadn’t obtained a qualification and didn’t want to appear reckless or incapable of achieving the grades.
While an addiction isn’t a financial secret as such, it can be a significant driving factor behind hiding other financial affairs. Addictions can be extremely debilitating and have enormous life consequences, especially if they cannot be kept up with financially – which is often the case.
Because of the overwhelmingly negative perception; drugs, alcohol and gambling tend to be the subjects that spring to mind when the word ‘addiction’ is used – but they’re not the only kind. Counsellors and medical professionals treat a huge range of addictions – from those traditionally thought of, to exercise, shopping, gaming and food – to name just a few.
Talking about finances
The UK has traditionally been a nation with a ‘stiff upper lip’ – where personal issues go undiscussed and aren’t meant to impact anyone’s life. While that may well have had a place in the past, life and finances have come a long way since then – and it’s important to understand the significant impact money matters can have on a person’s overall health and well-being – especially if they’re not handled well.
If you’re facing money issues, talking helps – you’ll realise you’re not the only one with secrets – a realisation that, in time, can lead to a greater degree of honesty where a couple’s finances are concerned.
8 September 2017
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