Press release: Nearly half of UK couples tell money lies to their partner

Thursday 23 April 2015

  • 45% of people in relationships admit they aren’t always honest with their partner about finances
  • 18% have lied to their other half about their earnings
  • A quarter lie about their spending
  • 41% don’t know exactly how much their partner earns

Honesty in relationships is always a hot topic, but new research from the Money Advice Service has revealed that when it comes to finances, some give their partner far less than the whole truth. The research, carried out amongst 2,000 UK adults in a serious relationship*, shows that 45% admit they aren’t always honest with their partner about their earnings and spending habits.

Earnings Exaggerations

Nearly one in five (18%) say that they have previously lied to a partner about how much they earn, with 22% of men saying this. But this doesn’t necessarily mean people are deliberately overstating their income – in fact, we are twice as likely to understate the amount we earn.

It seems that many people lie about their earnings to protect the feelings of their other half; 31% of those understating their income do so because they know their partner earns less than them, while 28% think their partner wouldn’t like knowing they earned more. However, 21% want to ensure their partner was with them for the right reasons, saying they didn’t want their partner to like them ‘just for their money’.

The top reason that people gave for overstating their income was ‘thinking they wouldn’t have a chance with the person otherwise’ (41%). Meanwhile, 34% didn’t want their partner to think they earned less, and 33% just wanted to ‘show off’.

Don’t ask, don’t tell

In total, 41% of those who have a partner in work said they don’t know exactly how much their partner earns. For many people, a lack of knowledge of their partner’s earnings is not a result of dishonesty, but not having the conversation at all. More than one in ten respondents (11%) don’t think it’s ever appropriate to ask your partner how much they earn, and a further 11% said it was only appropriate if your other half asked first. However, 15% of people think it’s appropriate to ask about earnings within the first month of a relationship, and a money-minded 6% feel it’s acceptable to ask within the first week.

Hidden spending

Almost a quarter of respondents (24%) admit to lying about their spending. Of those that have, women are most likely to tell fashion-related fibs – 66% have lied about their spending on clothes and 41% have lied about spending on shoes. In contrast, men are most likely to lie about spending on nights out (39%), holidays (28%), and gadgets and technology (27%).

Responding to the findings, Nick Hill, a money expert at the Money Advice Service, says:

“For many couples, honesty is key to their relationship, but our research shows that many people hide the truth from their other half. Some people are comfortable telling their partner the truth about their finances, while others opt to hide their income or spending in order to avoid having a difficult conversation.

“The important thing to take away from this research is that money should not be a taboo subject within a relationship, especially if you and your partner have intertwined finances which could impact your own credit rating and therefore your financial future. It is vital to know where you stand in order to protect your finances both during a relationship and when coming out of one and you’ll feel much more positive, open and honest about your relationship as a result.

“There is a wealth of advice available on the Money Advice Service website to help couples manage their money more effectively. You could also work through our budget planner together – a great opportunity to start a conversation about your finances.”

Five Tops Tips on talking money with your partner from Corinne Sweet, Psychologist and Psychotherapist, and author of Stop Fighting About Money

  • Be honest from the start – relationships that are built on lies about money tend to go wrong down the line. Be as truthful as you can – honesty builds trust
  • Money talk is sexy – talking about money can be sexy, as the intimacy that is built through sharing ‘privileged’ information can bring you closer together and build a deeper connection
  • Stop hiding – when we hide things from our partner (those new shoes in the back of the wardrobe; that new computer game), we erode the good feelings in the relationship. Respect grows through transparency
  • Don’t fudge the truth – if you earn more than you own up to, or spend more than you admit, then you are warping the fabric of the relationship – learn to be level if you want to be loved
  • Ask questions – it’s fine to ask about money, talk about money, own up to the detail, compare deals, talk numbers, disagree or agree…you need to stop being squeamish about this to make your relationship healthier, but also try to be balanced, and not moralistic, if you disagree

To find out more about money and relationships, visit



1. *Research conducted by One Poll for The Money Advice Service in January 2015 amongst 2,000 UK adults who are either married or have been in a relationship for at least one year. The survey was conducted online.

2. **Specific articles include:

Your financial position in a new relationship

Should you manage money jointly or separately?

Budget planner

About the Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service is an independent organisation. It gives free, unbiased money advice online at, over the phone on 0300 500 5000, and face-to-face right across the UK. The Service was set up by Government and is paid for by a statutory levy on the financial services industry, raised through the Financial Conduct Authority. Its statutory objectives are to enhance the understanding and knowledge of members of the public about financial matters (including the UK financial system); and to enhance the ability of members of the public to manage their own financial affairs.

For media enquiries contact:

• Chris Bull or Will Pickering at 3 Monkeys on 020 7009 3100 or

• The Money Advice Service press office on 020 7943 0593 or

For resource syndication:

• Money Advice Service tools and resources are available free for syndication. For further information please contact 020 7943 0616 or email