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It’s vital to talk to your spouse or partner about money. Here’s why

23% of people admit to lying about money in relationships, which can cause serious problems. Learn how to have better conversations about money with your partner, and achieve your joint financial goals.

21/09/2023
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According to Psychology Today, 99.1% of people keep secrets from family members, usually their partners.

Some of these secrets aim to protect the feelings of others, and a certain level of privacy can be beneficial for couples. But keeping secrets about money can often lead to problems further down the line.

Indeed, research commissioned by Lloyds Banking Group found that 23% of people had lied to their partner about money. This could be anything from having a secret credit card or savings account to lying about debts, gambling, or big purchases.

Debts are one of the things that people lie about the most, with 11% hiding the amount they owe from their partner.

The study found that this dishonesty about money is a symptom of a wider issue – 50% of UK adults believe that talking about money is taboo. That’s higher than any other subject, including sex, religion, or politics.

As a result, many people are not talking about their financial concerns with their partner and, in some cases, they are deliberately lying about them.

But what couples don’t realise is that there is often no need to conceal money matters from one another. In fact, Lloyds found that 61% of people said they felt better when they talked about their financial concerns.

Being open about money also helps you avoid arguments that can drive a wedge between you and your partner. So, read on to discover how avoiding financial conversations could be harming your relationship, and learn how to have constructive conversations about wealth with your partner.

Money problems are the second biggest reason for divorce in the UK

Though you may think that lies about money are normal in relationships and they won’t do any harm, they can cause serious problems.

According to Diem Legal, money problems are the second biggest reason for divorce in the UK after infidelity. This is worrying considering how common arguments about money are – indeed, the Lloyds study reported 37% of people in relationships have argued with their partner about finances.

Additionally, these arguments may get worse when couples are experiencing financial difficulty. This could be why people lie in the first place, so they can avoid conflict.

But usually, the lie is worse than the financial issues themselves. In fact, according to Forbes, 54% of people say that lying about money is as bad as infidelity and other forms of lying. So, honesty may well be the best policy when it comes to money and relationships, even if you’re sharing bad news.

When you tell your partner about debts or discuss big purchases beforehand, you can make decisions together and overcome financial hurdles without hurting your relationship.

However, discussing money matters doesn’t come naturally to everybody and many see it as a taboo subject to be avoided, especially in new relationships. The good news is, talking finances doesn’t have to be difficult.

5 tips to help you talk to your partner about money

With the cost of living crisis putting more pressure on joint finances, you may be wondering how to broach the subject for the first time. Here are five key tips to help you to have constructive conversations.

Start with values

Arguments about money often stem from a difference in values. If one person likes spending money on luxuries and doesn’t think long term, for example, they may clash with a partner who prioritises savings.

Couples with different approaches to money can still work together, but you need to communicate those values so you both understand one another when making decisions.

Use “I” statements

When people feel attacked, they can become defensive and that’s when arguments happen. Money conversations may go this way if you sit your partner down and start listing all of the things they have spent too much money on.

Instead, use “I” statements that put you at the centre of the problem. So, instead of “you’re spending too much”, say “I’m worried about paying the bills this month.”

This shifts the focus so you’re not blaming them for an issue, you are identifying a problem that you can then work together to solve.

State problems clearly

Couples that don’t talk about money tend to resort to passive-aggressive communication without clearly stating what their problem is. For example, if your partner makes a big purchase you don’t agree with, you might make snide comments about how much it cost.

But what you really want to say is that you are worried about stability in the future, or you feel upset that they made a big decision without you.

If you want conversations to be constructive, you must state clearly what your concerns are and what you would like to do differently.

Discuss your goals

Your overall goals dictate the way that you handle your finances, and it’s much easier to reach those goals when you work together.

Discuss short-term aims like paying off debt, as well as long-term goals like your plans for retirement.

Then, you can organise your finances together so you both end up in a stronger position, and it is easier to achieve your financial aims.

Keep things separate if you want to

Often, the reason people hide savings is that they want to maintain control or independence. Fortunately, you don’t need to lie to do that.

Being open about your money doesn’t necessarily mean combining all of your finances. If you and your partner decide that you want to keep some of your money separate and make your own decisions about spending, that’s a perfectly acceptable way to manage your finances.

The important thing is that you are on the same page about shared costs and your overall goals.

Get in touch

We can help you and your partner organise your wealth and achieve your joint financial goals. Visit our contact page on our website or speak to your adviser.

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Benchmark Financial Planning is an Appointed Representative of Best Practice IFA Group Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, the registration number is 223112. Registered office: Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurst Wood Road, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 4QP. Registered in England and Wales No 07572431.

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The guidance and/or advice contained within this website are subject to the UK regulatory regime and are therefore targeted at consumers based in the UK.