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Almost two in five people in a relationship in the UK admit to ‘financial infidelity’


Hiding savings or concealing debts from your partner can be a huge source of tension, and it can also seriously impede longer-term financial goals and ambitions. -Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings and Retirement, Aviva

  • Overall, 38% of people in a relationship admit to having a secret account or ‘money stashed away’ that their partner doesn’t know about
  • On average, these individuals have more than £1,600 in hidden savings
  • Half of over 55s with a secret account claim to have more than £2,000 squirrelled away
  • A quarter (26%) of couples argue about money at least once a week; around 5% say they argue about finances every day
  • Over one in ten (12%) say bickering about money has increased significantly since the cost-of-living crisis
  • 27% of people argue about bills and 18% quarrel about having too much debt

According to the latest research by the UK’s leading provider of Wealth and Retirement solutions, Aviva, almost two in five people who are married or in a relationship in the UK are committing ‘financial infidelity’ this Valentine’s Day.

Financial infidelity is often defined as ‘an act of dishonesty relating to personal finance between two people in a relationship’ and includes deceptions like having secret credit cards or savings accounts, lying about debts, or gambling and hiding purchases from partners.

A large proportion (26%) of respondents say they bicker about money at least once a week, of which around 5% admit to arguing about money every day. 

While more than two thirds of couples (67%) have a joint current account and half (51%) have joint savings accounts, 38% of people surveyed admit to having ‘money stashed away’ that their other half doesn’t know about. On average, these ‘secret savings’ amount to more than £1,600 each. A third (32%) claim to have more than £2,000 in a ‘rainy day’ account, including half (50%) of those over 55.

When asked why they have money in a secret account almost a third (32%) agree that they want to keep some control/independence of their finances; a quarter (25%) want to be able to treat themselves without their partner knowing; and a similar number (24%) say it’s to pay for their children’s education/ first car/ first flat etc. Sadly, one in five (21%) say it’s a precaution in case their marriage breaks down and 15% need to pay off debt they have concealed from their partner.

Aviva’s research also reveals that money is a common source of tension in a marriage or relationship. A large proportion (26%) of respondents say they bicker about money at least once a week, of which around 5% admit to arguing about money every day.  27% of people argue about bills and 18% quarrel about having too much debt.

A third (34%) say that this constant arguing about money has increased due to the cost-of-living crisis and more than one in ten (12%) recognise that disagreements have increased significantly.

Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings and Retirement at Aviva says, “Money is often a taboo subject in relationships, and at times it can be hard to discuss it rationally. Hiding savings or concealing debts from your partner can be a huge source of tension, and it can also seriously impede longer-term financial goals and ambitions.

“Being upfront, honest, and transparent about your finances with your partner can help avoid problems in the future. Having a general view of how much is being spent each month, along with overall debts or savings across the household can be important when it comes to making decisions about longer term financial objectives like when you can afford to retire, or whether to downsize your home to release some capital to help your children.

“Whether you want to know how to clear your debt, find the best savings rates, consolidate your pension pots or find the most tax-efficient way to invest your money, seeking the right advice to make sure you are aware of all options is key.”

Top tips
  1. Set joint goals: Set out your joint short- and long-term financial goals – what expenses do you have coming up i.e., children’s school trips, holidays, mortgage repayments, car purchases/ servicing and how do you plan to pay for them? Do you have debts? How / by when do you want to pay them off? When do you both want to retire/ are you both on track with your pension savings?
  2. Discuss Income and Expenditure: Discuss your income/ earnings and how to split monthly household expenditure. 16% of arguments between couples are about how much each person should contribute to household bills, holidays, car servicing, petrol etc. Having a clear idea of who is paying for what should help alleviate some of the tension.
  3. Emergency fund: Think about a contingency fund in case of illness, redundancy, or any unexpected expenses. Where possible, financial advisers recommend holding around six times our monthly outgoings as an emergency fund in an easily-accessible cash account.
  4. Stop debt ruining your relationship: Be honest and talk openly about any debts you may have – credit cards, store cards, gambling debts - and come up with a plan to consolidate and pay them off as quickly as possible. There is a range of completely free, confidential, and impartial services available to help you if debt is becoming a problem. Organisations like StepChangeMoney Advice Service and CAP  are all qualified to point you in the right direction.
  5. Keep talking: Have regular conversations about your income, expenditure, incidental spend, financial priorities, emergency funds, savings, debt and where/ when you expect money to go. Manage your budgets together.
  6. Seek guidance or professional advice: you can get impartial guidance on money, pensions or debt from the government’s free MoneyHelper service. If you want personal financial advice, we recommend finding a professional financial adviser. Advisers may charge for their services, but it’ll be tailored to your individual circumstances. For those who are over 50 and considering their pension options, the government-backed Pension Wise, can provide free guidance.
  7. Prepare for the worst: None of us want to expect the worst but preparing for it will provide peace of mind. One of the best gifts you could give your partner this Valentine’s Day might be to check you have a will or testament and make sure your pension, health and life insurance policy beneficiaries are up to date.


The research was conducted by Censuswide with 1288 respondents who are in a relationship / married between 13.01.23 - 17.01.23. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles and are members of The British Polling Council.



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