Are you a secret shopper? Half of Britons admit to telling financial fibs

7th November 2014


From secret shopping sprees to hidden debt, nearly half of British adults has admitted to telling financial fibs.

Research by Standard Life shows 48% of people have told a lie about our finances and a partner is the person individuals are most likely to tell fibs to.

Just over one in five, 21%, of married couples said they would lie to their husband or wife about money matters and 20% of non-married couples said the same.

Women are nearly twice as likely to hide money in a secret bank account, 9% compared to 5% of men, and 51% of women said they told financial fibs compared to 44% of men.

Men and women also lie about different money-related matters. The top five financial lies told be men are, in order: level of debt, amount of savings they have, a purchase, how much they saved on a purchase, and how much money they have.

Women were most likely to lie about a purchase, then amount of savings they have, how much they saved on a purchase, level of debt and how much money they have.

This shows that it is not just spending, but also savings that the nation is lying about but interesting two-thirds who have lied about their savings have underplayed rather than inflated the amount they have saved up.

A total of 72% of women who lied about savings underplayed the amount compared to 58% of men.

Salaries are also being underplayed, with 46% of people who lied about their salary telling friends and family they earn less than they do.

Standard Life consumer finance expert Julie Hutchinson said: ‘The first step to a positive financial future is to be honest with yourself about the state of your finances. If you are telling financial fibs to your nearest and dearest, the likelihood is that you are not being totally honest with yourself either. And if you feel the need to tell lies about the state of your finances, this probably indicates they aren’t completely shipshape.

‘The one person you really should be honest with about money issues is your partner. It’s hard for any couple to build a future together based on financial fibs.’

5 tips for getting your finances in check

  1. Don’t make money a taboo – Hutchinson said discussing money does not have to be about being boastful
  2. Have a money chat – once a month go through financial matters with your other half and raise any concerns about spending habits, said Hutchinson
  3. Set a budget – if you are trying to spend less to get back on financial track or saving for something in particular, you need a budget. ‘Just draw out a list of all your income and expenditure and look at where you could make savings,’ said Hutchinson. ‘You may be surprised about how good it feels to save some cash and realise that £15 per week spent on takeaway coffee could be better spent, or saved, elsewhere.’
  4. Make your cash work for you – If you have money stashed away you could consider investing it to make it grow rather than letting it sit in a low-interest account. ‘Try to build up an emergency fund first to cover your outgoings for at least three months – a cash ISA could help here,’ said Hutchinson. ‘Then after that, investing in an ISA could be worth looking at if you’re already paying into a pension at work. You need to be ready for some ups and downs with the stockmarket, but you can choose a fund which has less risk if that’s a concern.’
  5. Go online and get in control – ‘It’s easy to keep an eye on your bank account, savings, investments and mortgage online these days,’ said Hutchinson. ‘But have you signed up for online access for all of these yet? Are you making the most of apps to regularly check and manage your money?’


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