Money secrets “normal”, say three-in-ten

Money secrets “normal”, say three-in-ten

Money secrets “normal”, say three-in-ten

The FINANCIAL -- About three-in-ten people in Europe agree it’s normal for couples to keep a few secrets about money from each other. People in France, Turkey and the United Kingdom are the most likely to agree. At the other end of the spectrum, the Dutch are most likely to expect their partner to be open and honest about all money matters, followed by the Poles. There was little difference in attitude between men and women. However, more mature respondents – particularly those aged 55 and older – were less likely to agree it’s normal for couples to keep a few secrets about money from each other, according to ING, a Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation.

The Turks and Austrians most likely to have a secret bank account

Of those in Europe with a long term partner, 17% disagree with the statement: “My partner knows of every bank or savings account that I have”, suggesting they have a secret account. This rises to a high of 28% in Turkey and 24% in Austria. The countries with the lowest share admitting to having a secret bank account are the Netherlands and Spain (at 13%) and Italy, Belgium and France (all at 14%). There may be positive reasons for having a bank account loved ones don’t know about – such as saving for secret future plans (for an engagement ring or surprise holiday). Or it might signal a lack of willingness to talk about money, which is seen as negative in many cultures.

This dress? That power tool? I’ve had them for years…

Almost one-in-five people in Europe who are married or in a long-term relationship agree they bought something and hidden the expense from their partner in the last year. But it seems much of the hidden spending is found out. Of a separate group in the survey who were asked if their partner had bought something and hidden the expense, 16% agreed. Hiding an expense is about as prevalent among women as men. However, more mature respondents – particularly those aged 55 and older – were much less likely to agree they bought something and hid the expense, according to ING.

People with debts more likely to hide a splurge

People in Europe who have debt (other than a mortgage) are more likely to agree they bought something and hid the expense from their partner in the last year. It is evident in eight of 13 countries surveyed. In these places, there appears to be a tendency to be less open about spending if in debt, with the United Kingdom demonstrating this most strongly. In four countries – the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Spain – having debt makes no difference to the share who agree they hid an expense from their partner. In Luxembourg the reverse appears to be true and having debt may actually be linked with more openness around spending.

Older couples less likely to have money secrets

There are few differences between money secrets kept by men and by women in the survey, however, age seems to have an influence. In general, money secrets are less common among couples aged 55 and over.

Most would feel red faced if they had to borrow from family

Almost twice as many people in Europe would feel embarrassed if they had to borrow money from family or friends than if they had to borrow from the bank. This attitude of being more embarrassed borrowing from loved ones is evident in every country in Europe, with the gap particularly wide in Luxembourg (where few would be embarrassed borrowing from the bank but a large share would be borrowing from family and friends). People in the Czech Republic (57%) and Romania (58%) are the least likely to say they would be embarrassed to borrow from family and friends. The famously pragmatic Dutch are next (63%). What is surprising is the share saying they would be embarrassed if they had to borrow from a bank. After all, some borrowing can be positive and lending money is a standard activity for many financial institutions. However, including “had to” in the wording of the statement might suggest being in a financial bind with few options. In Turkey, where borrowing from family is more common (see p13), there is little difference in attitude based on the source, with survey highs agreeing they would feel embarrassed if they had to borrow from the bank and from loved ones, according to ING.