Money | The latest blogs, articles & guides from our best storytellers

A nation of financial cheaters: The money secrets we keep from our partners

Reviewed by expert, David Koch
4 min read
30 Jan 2024
koch

Have you ever lied to your partner about how much something cost or kept a financial secret from them? You’re not the only one, with new research revealing we’re a nation of financial cheaters.

According to a recent Compare the Market survey, almost a third of Australians have confessed to keeping financial secrets from their significant other (31.2%).*

More than one in 10 admit to making small purchases without their partner knowing (11.7%), 5.7% have a secret credit card and 5.1% gamble without their partner knowing.

Meanwhile, 8.3% have a secret debt, and 7.9% have a secret bank account.

Compare the Market’s Economic Director David Koch said lying to your partner about finances is a red flag.

“Whether it’s hiding smaller clothing purchases or losing big on a bet – financial infidelity comes in many shapes and forms,” Mr Koch said.

“But then there’s a more serious damaging level of financial infidelity – and that’s when people have secret credit cards, take out loans to make risky investments and hide sources of income.

“While couples need to have some financial freedom and independence, a healthy relationship won’t keep big financial secrets from each other.

“Lying about finances may even be considered a sign of financial abuse in a relationship.”

Which of the following have you kept secret in a relationship?

Gen Z

Millennials

Gen X

Boomers

Total

A hidden bank account

10.70%

11.00%

8.10%

4.00%

7.90%

Debt

9.10%

12.30%

9.60%

3.30%

8.30%

A credit card

13.20%

7.90%

4.60%

1.80%

5.70%

Taking money from a joint account

6.60%

6.20%

2.30%

2.10%

3.90%

A big purchase

5.00%

7.20%

4.60%

1.80%

4.50%

A small purchase

7.40%

12.30%

14.20%

10.60%

11.70%

Gambling costs

5.80%

4.50%

7.70%

3.30%

5.10%

Other

0.00%

0.30%

0.00%

1.80%

0.70%

None of the above

40.50%

52.40%

60.40%

73.60%

60.00%

*Survey conducted with 1005 adult Australians, November 2023.

The age group that admitted to keeping the most financial secrets were Millennials, followed closely by Gen Z.

Millennials were most likely to have a hidden bank account, debt and make a big purchase without telling their significant other.

Meanwhile, Gen Z were more likely to take money from their joint account and have a secret credit card.

The age group most likely to have a secret gambling debt was Gen X.

Mr Koch said one of the keys to a successful and healthy relationship is to be transparent about money.

“It’s important to be open and honest about your finances. It’s okay to disagree on some things,” Mr Koch said.

“But you should clearly outline your money goals and divide up the financial responsibilities.

“Whether it’s opening joint accounts, paying the rent or mortgage, insurance or energy bills, it’s the responsibility of both parties.”

Mr Koch said to look out for the following red flags in a relationship.

·         Hidden Purchases: secretly buying items or services and not disclosing them

·         Hidden debt: Concealed debt, loans, betting apps, credit cards and loans

·         Stashed cash: keeping physical cash hidden

·         Hidden assets: Not disclosing assets such as property or stocks

·         Lying about income: Inflating or deflating what they earn

·         Making big financial decisions alone: selling assets, incurring debt or making a large investment without your knowledge

·         Hiding financial documents or faking financial documents

·         Using money to manipulate or control

·         Money goes missing from your wallet

·         They aren’t willing to talk about money with you

·         They aren’t willing to do a credit check with you

“If you notice any of the above red flags, you could calmly talk to your partner about it,” Mr Koch said.

“It’s never okay for someone to take away your access to money, manipulate your financial decisions, or use your money without consent.

Financial abuse can happen to anyone, and it can leave you feeling vulnerable and on edge.

“If you or someone you know is experiencing financial abuse, free and confidential help is available”.

Mr Koch said financial infidelity isn’t just about money, it’s about honesty, trust and communication.

“You don’t have to have the same spending styles, but there should be some clear ground rules.

“Each person needs a level of discretionary spending for which they’ve got the freedom to spend on their hobbies and gifts.

“But if your partner is lying about money, there’s a good chance this will taint the relationship”.

Family Relationship Advice Line is free to call on 1800 050 32.

For more information, please contact:

Natasha Innes | 0416 705 514 | natasha.innes@comparethemarket.com.au

Compare the Market is a comparison service that takes the hard work out of shopping around. We make it Simples for Australians to quickly and easily compare and buy insurance, energy, travel and home loan products from a range of providers. Our easy-to-use comparison tool helps you look for a range of products that may suit your needs and benefit your back pocket.

Did you find this article interesting or helpful?