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When making your wedding vows, you might not have agreed to “honour and obey” but probably kept in the “for richer or poorer”, hoping no doubt that the former rather than the latter would apply along with hoping that the ‘forsaken all others” part would hold good as well (and assuming you didn’t feel the need to get a prenup agreement drawn up!)

Interestingly, infidelity doesn’t top the list of reasons why couples split up. A survey by Slater and Gordon quoted in The Independent saw money worries claiming the top spot for being the cause of marriage break ups.

Of course, we’ve all heard of the saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” but it seems that when it comes to finances, some parts of the UK are more reticent than others, perhaps thinking that “a problem shared is a problem doubled”. Research commissioned by credit information provider Equifax reveals that almost one fifth (19%) of UK consumers would never tell their partner about their debts.

The study gives an insight into the most honest regions of the UK and reveals that nearly a quarter (24%) of Londoners and people from Yorkshire and Humberside are most likely to keep their debt from their partner a secret. In contrast, individuals in the East Midlands seem to be more open; with only 13% saying they would never disclose the full details of their debts to their partners.

It seems that the early stages of a relationship – after just one to three months – can be the time to tell all for over a third (38%) of those living In the North East. But only a quarter of those living in the East Midlands would do the same. And while a third (33%) of Scots would share their debt secrets with their partner after just three months, nearly 1 in 5 (18%) of Scots would never tell a partner about their debt. 

Debt Secrets stay secret for life!
Percentage of individuals who would never tell their partner about their debt situation

When it comes to managing their finances, 14% of those living in the East Midlands admitted to impulse purchases, even though it would push them into their overdraft. 13% of those living in the North East and 10% in London said the same, compared to just 3% in Wales and Northern Ireland. In contrast 61% of people in the South West say they never get into debt for the latest gadget or fashion accessory.

Asking for advice on debt management is clearly hard for most people. A staggering 80% of people in Wales have never asked family, friends or an organisation for debt advice, followed by 75% in the South West and 74% in Scotland and the North West.

Lisa Hardstaff, credit information expert at Equifax, comments: “It’s clear from this study that debt can be a tricky subject for people to talk about. But it’s important for couples to be open about their financial situation. Keeping debt a secret, could lead to it getting out of hand or putting added strain on the individual and potentially the relationship.”

“There are simple steps people can take to manage their finances and debt. Rather than burying their head in the sand, consumers should take stock of their finances to gain a clear picture of where their money is going and their financial commitments. This will put them in a better position to understand and manage their finances and their debt more effectively.”


[1] Survey of 2,000 UK consumers conducted by Gorkana on behalf of Equifax, November 2018

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