Money secrets putting family finances at risk

A couple of generations ago it was commonplace for a working husband not to tell his home-based wife how much he earned. And it appears that secrecy about finances is still blighting peoples’ lives.

A survey by Prudential of couples over the age of 40 suggests that 22 per cent hid debts worth on average £7,800 from each other.  Almost half said they had borrowed to cover everyday living costs.

Just over a quarter of the respondents also said they had savings they had kept secret from their partner – and average stash of £4,000. 

The practice of keeping your salary a secret lives on, too – 13 per cent had never told their partner what they earned. 

The research was carried out by Prudential to highlight the difficulties that financial secrecy can cause in retirement planning.

However a lack of openness within families about finances – and about debt problems in particular – can only ever make life more difficult, says Debt Advice Foundation chief executive David Rodger.

“We hear time and time again from callers that they have run up debts and have kept their problems a secret from family members,” he said.  “It inevitably makes the situation a great deal worse and often leads to the breakdown of relationships.

“We would always encourage good communication about family finances – and it’s particularly important to include children.  In our financial education programme, secondary school students teach ten-year-olds at primary school the basics of money management – and they really understand the issues.   

“If everyone understands the stresses and strains on the family budget, that’s a big step towards coping with rising bills and other financial pressures.”

For more on the Prudential survey, click here