A recent study by Experian of over a thousand US couples has revealed that the majority of spouses had no real knowledge of their other half’s finances until after they were married. Almost a third admitted to being surprised by what they learned from their partner’s bank statements once they saw them.
36% of respondents said they knew nothing about how their partner spent their money, one in three didn’t know the balance of their other half’s remaining student loan, and one in four didn’t know their partner’s annual income. These statistics become even more surprising when you consider that 92% of people surveyed stated that one of the most important things they look for in their husband or wife is ‘financial stability’.
Four in ten respondents admitted to not knowing their partner’s credit score before marrying them, with the same amount of people revealing they were stressed due to their husband or wife’s credit score before they tied the knot.
There was also a considerable disparity in the statistics for men and women, with men more likely to keep their finances hidden from their partner. 20% of men admitted to having secret financial accounts, a figure which drops to just 12% in women. Men also said they would spend up to $1,259 (around £877) without consulting their other half, whilst the average amongst women was just $383 (around £267).
Experian’s Director of Public Education, Rod Griffin, commented that the study suggested two main reasons for the differences between how open men and women are about their finances. Not only are women generally more inclined to disclose personal information to others, but men are also still earning, on average, a higher amount than women.
Couples who work together to manage their finances can be more successful at achieving financial stability, but in truth this shouldn’t be limited to your partner. Transparency with your immediate family across the generations, from your parents to your children, can increase the benefits of full and formal financial planning, with all parties able to gain access to long term views of their wealth.