Are you and your partner open and honest about everything in your relationship – even your finances? Perhaps you hold a joint account and have total trust in your other half, or do you hide away those payslips and bank statements?
Research by Stowe Family Law has shown that nearly half (47%) of couples cannot say for sure what their partner earns and 5.9% have absolutely no idea.
When it comes to the gender divide, women are even less clued up with 43% unsure what money their partner is bringing in, compared to 39.5% of men. Perhaps men are more secretive about their finances, or is it that women are less inquisitive?
The period in any relationship when finances seem to take a front seat is unfortunately when a relationship comes to an end and a couple decides to separate or divorce. An often used practice is to divide everything equally between both parties while others perhaps use the method of taking out what each person has put in during the relationship. But this will prove increasingly difficult if couples are clueless about what their partner earns, and it could cause problems.
Where people live in the country appears to make a difference, with only 27% of those questioned living in the city of Belfast knowing what their partner earned – the city where people are the least clued up - compared to 46% in Edinburgh, 43% in London and 52% in Cardiff.
Age seems to play a part too with older couples appearing to have more transparency in their relationship, perhaps because trust has had time to build up, or their lives are more intrinsically entwined. Only 25% of the 18 – 24 year olds questioned know exactly what their partner earned compared to 48% of those over the age of 65.
Then we come to the small proportion of people who are completely in the dark, having absolutely no idea what their partner's income is. As much as 10% of those questioned in Northern Ireland have no idea what money their partner brings home compared to 5% in London and the South East. Elsewhere, in the Midlands, the North and Wales a worrying 6% remain totally unaware.
Marilyn Stowe, of Stowe Family Law, said: "We see many clients who either have no idea at all what their partner earns, or have completely over estimated their partner's salary.
"This survey just illustrates how vague couples can be regarding the state of their finances. When a relationship has come to an end, the greater the financial transparency there is between the couple the less stressful the divorce proceedings will be. Despite the economic climate there is still a lack of financial frankness amongst families."
If you are one of those couples that keeps financial business under your hat, perhaps now is the time to start becoming more open. You could think about opening a joint account, for example, out of which all the household bills and monthly outgoings could be taken out. Perhaps you are saving for something special – it will be more fun doing it together – so you could open a savings account that you both pay into and ultimately both reap the rewards.
Sometimes working together with your finances can really pay off too. Take the new 5% TSB current account for instance - under TSB terms and conditions you're allowed to have up to two of these accounts per person (enough for £4,000 in savings) as well as a joint account, so theoretically, a couple could have six accounts between them. This would be enough for £12,000 in savings, split between all six accounts, which would result in interest of £600 per year.
So as we're just getting into the new financial year, now is a great time to get your money in order and, as a couple, a bit of financial transparency could really pay off.
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