Brits are hiding over £69bn of debt from their partners, according to new research from Direct Line Life Insurance.
8.3 million (16%) of Brits have debts their partner knows nothing about.
The average debt hidden from a partner in the UK is £8,293, which would take approximately 15 weeks for the average Brit to pay off, even if they could commit their entire earnings to clearing this debt.
In fact, over 460,000 people wouldn’t have even started a relationship with their current partner if they had been aware of their financial position when they started dating.
The largest number of hidden debts are on credit cards with 5.6 million Brits owing an average of £2,109, or cumulatively £11.7 billion, their partner doesn’t know about. The other debts mostly likely to be hidden are personal loans, which 2.6 million Brits haven’t told their partner about and car payments (2.5 million). In a move likely to cause huge acrimony if it were ever to be revealed, 1.4 million Brits have outstanding child support payments they have hidden from their current partner, at an average of £748.
Brits justify hiding debts from their partner, with 29% of those in this position claiming they are trying to pay off the money owed so don’t need to tell them. Nearly one and a half million Brits (17%) say they hide the money they owe to avoid arguments, while 12% don’t think it is any of their partner’s business.
Married Brits who have hidden debts are even more likely to not disclose debts (30%) to avoid arguments, with 38% saying they don’t think it is any of their partner’s business. For 6% of married Brits who have hidden debts, it is the fear their partner would leave them if they revealed their debt shame leading them to keep it under wraps, even though they would also be liable for the debt.
The research also reveals that married Brits are extremely uncomfortable discussing their finances with their spouse. Married people said they would rather discuss their political beliefs (61%) and even their ‘discriminatory views’ (30%) than their current financial situation.
Jane Morgan, business manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, said: “A conversation about your finances can be awkward and if you’ve got debt even somewhat distressing, but it’s important to ensure your partner is aware of your financial position, especially if you live together or are married, as they could be liable for any outstanding debts.
“Given so many people are hiding debts from their nearest and dearest, we’d suggest having these discussions as early as possible to make sure you are prepared. When considering life insurance, couples can build in mortgage costs, as well as a lump sum or any debts to reduce the financial pressure you could face in the unfortunate event your partner passes away.”