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Money secrets and lies – how honest are you really? It pays to talk, says Sarah Pennells

Do you talk to your partner about money? The idea may bring you out in a cold sweat, but it’s important to be able to be able to discuss your finances, both to avoid arguments and the financial consequences. But how many of us do really?

We asked Sarah Pennells, author of, to talk to us about what she found out in her Women and Money report 2015, and what couples can do if they want to have a money conversation with their partner – the right way.

How honest are you?

If you’re in a relationship, does your partner know everything about your finances? If they don’t, you’re not alone.

My website carried out some research looking at how couples manage their money, including finding out whether they argue about money and whether or not they’re honest with each other about their cash.

The good news is that the majority of couples are open and honest about their finances.

We found that 57% of people said their partner knows everything about their finances, including how much they earn, what they owe and how much they’ve saved.

Another quarter (27%) said their partner knows most of their financial situation. But almost one in ten (9%) said their partner only knows some of their financial situation and one in 25 said they know little or nothing.

That’s fine if you’re in the early stages of your relationship (you don’t have to spill the beans about your finances on the first or second date), but it’s not good if you’ve been together for a while or live under the same roof.

Sssh! Who has the most money secrets?

Younger couples are more likely to have secrets and younger men are more secretive than women (56% of women aged 18 – 34 said their partner knows everything about their money situation, compared to 44% of men).

Why does this matter? It’s important because if you’re honest about your finances, then you and your partner can make the best money decisions together.

But if you don’t put your partner in the picture, there could be more serious consequences for both of you.

For example, if one of you has secret debts they can’t pay off and you and your partner have joint loans or a joint mortgage, the other partner could find their credit rating is affected.

The report also found that couples argue about money more than just about anything else. In fact, it came second only to cleanliness and tidiness!

But, if you and your partner are open about money, you should find that you argue about it much less often.

Tips for talking about money  

If you find it hard to get started, here are some tips for talking about money:

  1. Set a time to have the ‘money conversation’ if you’ve never spoken to your partner about money.
  2. Talk about what you think money is for (saving, investing, spending etc) as well as what you have and owe.
  3. Don’t think that there’s only one way to manage money (your way!). If your partner does things differently, there may be things you can learn too.
  4. If you find out that your partner does have secret debts, try and work out a solution – rather than just getting angry - and get help from a debt advice charity if you need it. People who have debt they’re struggling with are often anxious or ashamed, which is why they don’t tell anyone.

Do you find it difficult to talk about money? Do you have any tips on how to make it easier?

This guest post is from Savvy Woman and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the Money Advice Service. You can find out more about Savvy Woman and what they do on their website.

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