Getting married is a huge life event and one that marks the beginning of a couple's future together. However, before tying the knot, wouldn't it better to know everything about your spouse? Well, it seems that some couples are heading down the aisle without any idea of their partner's true financial situation, with one in five concealing the extent of their debts from their betrothed.
Research by the Debt Advisory Centre has revealed that debt is a common feature in most couples' lives, with more than half of respondents admitting to having unsecured debt. While the average amount owed is £3,200, some of those questioned revealed more substantial debts of over £5,000.
However, rather than admitting to the state of their finances, 20% of respondents said that their partner was not aware of all of their borrowing, while another 7% confessed that they did not know if their partner was hiding any debts from them. And this situation is unlikely to change in the run-up to a wedding.
Indeed, some unfortunate newlyweds could be faced with the startling revelations in the first few weeks of marriage, with 7% of those questioned suggesting that it was better to save the unveiling of their outstanding debts until after the honeymoon, something that is sure to quickly remove the glow of newly-married bliss. Even more worrying, however, is the proportion of people who thought it better to never confess to the true state of their finances, with one-third of respondents declaring that it was best to never reveal outstanding debts to their better halves, even after marriage.
But why do couples feel the need to be so secretive about their finances? Well, one of the top reasons identified for hiding the truth from their partners was embarrassment – getting into debt is rarely a good thing, and giving a partner a reason to get cold feet is apparently good motivation for failing to reveal the truth. Another factor was discomfort; with 17% of respondents saying that they did not feel comfortable sharing their financial situation with their partner. Interestingly, women were twice as likely as men to cite this as a major factor in concealing their debts.
However, these reasons shouldn't stop you from sharing your debt secrets, as Melanie Taylor, spokeswoman for Debt Advisory Centre, explains: "Discussing finances, especially debts, can be daunting. However, hiding debt from your spouse or fiancé is storing up a problem that could seriously threaten the future security and happiness of both of you.
"Once plans turn to marriage, it's essential that you understand each other's financial position, and that includes any debt that you bring into the marriage."
If you want to start married life with a clean financial slate, or at least one that is fully in the open, it's time to confess your debts to your partner. Opening up to your spouse means that you can work out a way to clear your debt together.
Cutting household costs could be one way to do this: work out a budget and stick to it. It may also be worthwhile to review your gas & electricity suppliers to make sure you aren't paying over the odds. The same goes for any insurance that you have.
If credit card debt is weighing you down, you may also like to consider a 0% balance transfer card. These cards give you the opportunity to clear your debt without interest adding to the bill. Just make sure you clear the balance before the end of the interest-free period, and don't spend any more on the card!
Finally, if you are really worried about your debts, don't struggle alone. Seeking help from an independent financial adviser can set out the road to becoming debt-free, and then all you have to do is start saving for your dream wedding!
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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