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Couples ignorant of each other’s finances

Almost half of people in long-term relationships do not know how much money their significant other earns, a new study suggests.

Researchers in the United States surveyed 2,102 people over 25 years old who were all married or living together. They found that 43 per cent of respondents either did not know what their partner’s salary was or gave the wrong figure when asked. In fact, ten per cent of those who guessed wrong did so by at least $25,000.

Additionally, a third of couples surveyed had different expectations about their lifestyle when they retire.

Despite these results, 72 per cent of respondents claimed that they “communicate exceptionally or very well about financial matters” in their relationship.

The study was conducted on behalf of financial firm Fidelity Investments. John Sweeney is the executive vice president of retirement and investing strategies at the firm. He said that that although the company was aware that couples do not always agree on financial matters, they were “surprised how many missed the mark on the question of their spouse’s salary”.

He added:

“If gaps exist around basic questions regarding finances, it may be an indication there are other financial matters couples need to talk about.”

Last year, a British survey found that as many as one in five couples lie to each other about their savings. It also found that people were dishonest about both the amount of debt they had and their salaries.

Financial dishonesty was also the central focus of a recent Supreme Court hearing. In it, two former wives alleged that their ex-husbands had been dishonest during their divorces. The result, the women claim, was that their financial settlement was unfair.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Luke says:

    “Almost half of people in long-term relationships do not know how much money their significant other earns, a new study suggests.”
    The whole article suggests there is something wrong with this and I would challenge that. As long as a person is happy with the financial input from the other party then I don’t see any issue – if you are continually unhappy with their financial contribution then you leave.
    Personally I think it is not at all unreasonable, and in fact quite normal, to keep your financial details to yourself.
    I can understand if you have children with somebody that you want some financial ground rules and commitment, but that’s about it.
    Of course if you are married and as a woman (typically a woman, but not always) see divorce as a strong option then I can appreciate the need to know, it is often important to know to what extent you can asset strip your spouse before making that decision…

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