One in 10 ‘have secret escape fund’

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Published: Friday 6th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Nearly one in 10 people in a serious relationship is hiding a secret “escape fund” from their partner – and men are more likely to have one than women – research from a Government-backed body suggests.

Some 9% of adults from across the UK who are either married or have been with their partner for at least a year admitted to having a hidden fund with the specific purpose of allowing them to leave the relationship if they choose to, the Money Advice Service (MAS) found. The average escape fund holds £7,500.

Of the 2,000 people in relationships who were surveyed last month, 11% of men admitted to having a secret escape fund while 8% of women said that they have one.

People living in the West Midlands and London were the most likely to say they are sitting on a secret fund, with 16% and 15% of people in a couple in these regions respectively saying they have one. By contrast, just 3% of couples in Northern Ireland have an escape fund, and in the South West this proportion is 4%. In Scotland and Wales, 5% and 6% of couples were found to have an escape fund respectively.

Looking more widely at the impact of people’s finances on their relationships, the average couple has around 39 arguments about money every year, the study found. Londoners have the most frequent money-related rows, typically having 53 arguments per year.

Around three-quarters of people who took part in the survey were married. Of those who were married, nearly one quarter (24%) said that their partner would be “upset, angry or surprised” if the true state of their finances was revealed to them.

One in seven (13%) married people said they were keeping a stash of money “on the quiet”, with common reasons being that the person with secret savings wanted “financial independence”, or that they were worried their partner would spend the money if they knew about it.

Nearly one fifth (18%) of people across the survey also admitted they had hidden debts from their partner.

Many people also said that their partner’s financial actions had damaged their own credit score. Some 12% of those surveyed said their credit rating had been damaged by the actions of a partner, rising to 19% of people aged between 25 and 34 years old.

The MAS is an independent body which was set up by Government to offer free money tips, with an overall aim to enhance people’s awareness of financial matters as well as their ability to manage their finances. It is funded by a statutory levy on the financial services industry.

Nick Hill, a money expert at the MAS, said: “We like to think that the person we choose to share our life with will always be honest with us, but our research shows that, even for married couples, this may not be the case.

“It may be upsetting to find out your partner is hiding money from you, but finding out they are in significant debt could be much worse, with consequences for your own finances.”

Mr Hill said that money should not be a “taboo” subject, adding: “It is vital to talk about your financial position as soon as you feel comfortable, ideally, before you become financially connected to your partner. If you are planning to share bills such as a rent or mortgage, make sure you are clear about how these are split.”

The MAS has various tools on its website to help people plan their finances such as a “budget planner” at moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

Here are some regional findings from the survey:

:: Northern Ireland, 3% of couples have an escape fund, 8% have a secret stash that their partner doesn’t know about, the average couple has 30 arguments about money a year.

:: Scotland, 5% of couples have an escape fund, 10% have a secret stash their partner doesn’t know about, the average couple has 31 arguments about money a year.

:: Wales, 6% of couples have an escape fund, 8% have a secret stash their partner doesn’t know about, the average couple has 39 arguments about money a year.

:: East Anglia, 11% of couples have an escape fund, 14% have a secret stash their partner doesn’t know about, the average couple has 33 arguments about money a year.

:: London, 15% of couples have an escape fund, 19% have a secret stash their partner doesn’t know about, the average couple has 53 arguments about money a year.

:: East Midlands, 7% of couples have an escape fund, 10% have a secret stash their partner doesn’t know about, the average couple has 21 arguments about money a year.

:: West Midlands, 16% of couples have an escape fund, 18% have a secret stash their partner doesn’t know about, the average couple has 46 arguments about money a year.

:: North West, 9% of couples have an escape fund, 14% have a secret stash their partner doesn’t know about, the average couple has 35 arguments about money a year.

:: North East, 11% of couples have an escape fund, 14% have a secret stash their partner doesn’t know about, the average couple has 40 arguments about money a year.

:: South East, 7% of couples have an escape fund, 11% have a secret stash their partner doesn’t know about, the average couple has 43 arguments about money a year.

:: South West, 4% of couples have an escape fund, 12% have a secret stash their partner doesn’t know about, the average couple has 31 arguments about money a year.

:: Yorkshire and Humber, 11% of couples have an escape fund, 9% have a secret stash their partner doesn’t know about, the average couple has 32 arguments about money a year.

Published: Friday 6th February 2015 by The News Editor

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