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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Women 'keep secret savings'
Pile of money
Many women keep savings secret from their husbands
Many women are stockpiling their own savings without the knowledge of their husbands to provide a "nest egg" for their own financial security, a report has said.

People can often find it harder to talk about money in relationships than sex

Geethika Jayatilaka, co-author

According to the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for women's equality, many women were afraid that their partners would spend the money if they found out.

The report, called Home Truths, said that despite a perception that many more couples were now sharing financial decision making, men still called the shots, particularly in low-income families.

"People can often find it harder to talk about money in relationships than sex," said Geethika Jayatilaka, co-author of the report.

"It is clear from this research that for many the egalitarian family is a myth."

Purse strings

Women questioned for the survey initially claimed that they were sharing financial decisions with their partners, but admitted that there were times when they could not challenge their husband's own expenditure.

A quarter of women with incomes below £400 a month said their partner had control over financial matters, compared to a fifth of women on higher incomes.

Many said they were reluctant to spend money on themselves because they earned less than their partners.

"Bringing money into the household brings with it a sense of entitlement to decide how it is spent," said Ms Jayatilaka.

"Because men earn more than women they have greater control of how money is spent or shared, and more access to personal spending."

Worse now

The study said that some women have less control over how they spend their money than in the past, because cash payments, such as Child Benefit, are now often paid through bank transfers.

As women are less likely to have access to a current account than men, payments which were previously received in cash, are now being diverted to their partner's accounts.

Ms Jayatilaka said that there was a concern that this shift in who controls finances within a household could have a detrimental effect on children.

"Money controlled by women is more likely to be spent on children than money controlled by men, children lose out too," she said.

The society has warned that the long-term financial security of women could be at risk if men were not sympathetic to their long-term pension and savings needs.

Your comments:

My husband has passed over total control of all our money to me. He is the type to spend every penny (and more) that is in his pocket. Although we have a joint account he has no access to it, having cut up his bank card in 2! I have a separate current account for my wages and a savings account. My husband knows about the savings account, but not how much is in there - he doesn't want to know - he trusts me with all financial matters.
Ruth, UK

I have a secret account because my wife continually spends more than we earn. I therefore have to save surreptitiously and then transfer extra money into our account so that we don't get into financial trouble

David Lock, UK

Interestingly, one of your female guests on breakfast time this morning admitted that she had her own account to buy things for herself while the 'main' account (presumably the husband's) was 'to pay bills'. An attitude that is as common in my experience as men taking control of all financial decisions.
Nigel Pike,

Call me a mal-chauvinistic or even misogynistic if you must but I have yet to meet a woman who didn't spend every single penny she had access to (namely mine!) Why? Because that is how women are socialised. Men on the other are socialised to be responsible citizens with their money.
William van Zwanenberg, Finland

I'm married, work very part-time, stay home with the children, and hide money from my spouse, too. He is a wonderful husband. He pays almost all the bills, and I pick up the 'extras' with my income, such as groceries. I'm not sure why I do it, but I feel more secure knowing that if it were ever necessary, I would have money available to me and my children. I admit that even I think it is odd to hide money from a loving spouse, but I will continue to do so.
Carol, USA

Yes, I definitely have a secret banking account because the last time my husband knew about my savings account, he was always borrowing money he could never pay back, since he earns less than I do he felt he had a right to it. In the end I had to close it and have opened another one and he doesn't know anything about it. I can run my home and still have money for a rainy day.
Kate, Zambia

Ah -- so that's where all our money has gone: my wife is ferreting it away!

Paul, Germany

Yes, I had to have separate finances from a husband that would spend money like water. He offered no support to our son when we split and I luckily stockpiled enough and had a mortgage in my own name to ensure my sons lifestyle did not change. I also never gave up work knowing what an unreliable person my husband was. He'd quit his jobs and expect me to pay for his cigarettes and beer!
Tracey, UK

Firstly, this article assumes that it is the man who is always the "breadwinner". My salary is more than double my fiancé's, so this is not always true.
Sarah, England

I have a small savings account that I keep secret from my husband. I am not in a 'bad marriage but I do feel the need to have access to some sort of cash in the event that my husband will or can't give it to me. In my experience most women have a secret stash for security as much as anything else. We have to in a world where men still appear to have increased earning power, even when a woman is doing much the same job.
Anonymous, UK

Yes, definitely, it was part of the reason I got divorced. I started saving money for something nice, unfortunately my ex-husband was a bit flippant with money, on one occasion he went out and replaced his mobile phone costing us £300. He hadn't consulted me as the UK blokes think that women are stupid when it comes to money... he was wrong wasn't he. When he found out he started accusing me of nicking all his money, a total of £300 over a period of 4 months... well.. if that¿s all he had to his name I'm glad I divorced him! To all the other women who have a secret stash... be careful, it may be misconstrued! Michelle
Michelle, UK

It's not just men that can't control spending. I have a secret account because my wife continually spends more than we earn. I therefore have to save surreptitiously and then transfer extra money into our account so that we don't get into financial trouble.
David Lock, UK

I think this is true...from experience wife¿s do hide money from husbands and to compound it they always ask us for money...go figure.

My fiancée earns significantly more money than I do, and yes she has a lot more spending money than me. But the flip side is that she pays more towards the running of our house. This is something I am perfectly happy with, she works extremely hard so why shouldn't she enjoy the benefits. If people are having problems working out finances between them then I feel that the problem isn't just about money, but also about control.
Dan, UK

Campaigning for equality and advocating secret accounts!
PNB, Australia

If you use this, please put my initial only. My mum has always stored secret cash for personal spending. When we were hardest up I remember my mum always saying "Don't tell your Dad I bought this.." as she wanted a pot of money for things she felt my dad would not agree with - things like hobby kits which my mum wanted but were not useful to the family.

If married people keep secrets from each other, shouldn't the more fundamental question be why they remain married if they have such obvious trust issues ?
Shauna, Canada

My mother gave me the best advice the moment I got engaged - never share your bank account with your husband. She had good reason too as she had a spendthrift husband who would fritter away his earnings, not just on beer but on items he fancied, no matter how much they cost. My own husband is no different in that respect, but equally as bad as a spendthrift is a miser who begrudges giving anything towards household expense. Anyone who earns should have an account which cannot be got at by spouse, partner or children and all earners made to contribute what is a fair portion into the household kitty.
Hazel, UK

Before my split with my partner, I used to keep a couple of separate accounts that he knew nothing about - the reasoning behind this was that he was spend thrift and would have spent any money that he could have got his hands on.
L Barnes, UK

This is a biased report - the same story line applies to not just the woman, but in more general terms, the more financially prudent of any couple - be it male or female! But to continue the bias - how many female partners have 'secret' store cards or mail order accounts allowing for over-spending of family expenses? Fascinating?
Spike, United Kingdom

Just what line of thought is Ms Jayatilaka exactly following? It certainly doesn't appear to be scientific.
Ian, UK

Surely this is to some extent inevitable. The money earner (male or female) will expect the right to have more (ir)responsibility over financial matters whilst the homemaker/child raiser (male or female) will expect the right to have more (ir)responsibility over domestic/child raising matters.
Pete, UK

When my Boyfriend and I purchased our house together I earned about 35% less than he did but we still agreed to pay equal shares on bills. our wages get paid to our own sole accounts and then an equal portion transferred direct to a joint account purely for bill payment. I now earn the same as my partner and the arrangement has continued. I have my own current account and savings account which I control. Some friends say that this shows a lack of trust, but I only want to be responsible for the money I earn.
Rebecca, UK

I'd like to suggest that men too are hiding money away from their spouses/partners

Colin, UK

Ah -- so that's where all our money has gone: my wife is ferreting it away!
Paul, Germany

My mother would save money for her children's future but keep it quiet lest my father would decide to use the money for his own purposes.

if she is hiding money....what else is she hiding????

Can someone substantiate the comment that child support money is better spent by women than men ? In my limited experienced having the highest income in a relationship was because financial security and education have always been a priority for me(the male). While that wasn¿t necessary true for the partner (female). Why would this mean I would spend child support money on beer ?. We should also look at the percentage of guys actually having access to this money. Aren't most children born out of wedlock.. Meaning the men get no rights what so ever. Apart from forking out money though.
Staale, England

There is no way I would consider marrying or living with a partner unless the law were to change so that I could protect my home and my money from them, in the event of a split up

Linda, UK

Keep your secret savings accounts, and when a divorce happens, take it instead of breaking the mans account. Men can have secret savings too, if he is wise.
Fraser Heath, Aberdeen, UK

We share the household and childcare bills and make joint decisions on all single item expenditure over £100. For other expenditure and management of our own current accounts we both take responsibility of our own and have open dialogue over our financial position. It's an interesting task at the end of the month to breakdown your outgoings into areas such as "food and drink", leisure, home, car, clothes. Try it, and it will sober you up quickly!
Steve, UK

In our household we have 2 accounts. One current, the other savings. Both are in joint names with my wife. My wife stays at home looking after our child. This is her choice and my preference. In fact we feel fortunate to be able to afford to do this. Perhaps an old-fashioned point of view. I admit that my wife doesn't have the independence of her own bank account, but then neither do I. We both check the bank statements, there are no secret purchases. If either of us wants something, we both check it out with the other. We believe in the idea that 'What's yours is mine, and what's mine is yours.' Big financial decisions are shared.

Ian, UK

It's all the same money at the end of the day; we just decided to keep our own bank accounts when we got married. Neither of us monitors what the other spends as we're both responsible people and know when we have big expenses looming and need to cut back. We're very relaxed about it and financial control causes no problems between us at all.
Sara Dawson, UK

This is another sad reflection on our society today that we seem to place more value on money than we do on what relationships and family should really be about.
Gary , UK

I think this is outrageous and demotes the notion of family values altogether. What kind of relationship ethos signal is this giving out? Money should not be a "secret" in a marriage.
An opinionated lady, UK

I work, my wife has not for 12 years. My salary is paid into a joint account from which I receive a monthly allowance. My wife then spends/saves the rest as she sees fit. This arrangement means I always have cash for a bet or a pint and we have never had an argument about money since adopting this system!!
Mark Brown, UK

I'd like to suggest that men too are hiding money away from their spouses/partners.
Colin, UK

There is no way I would consider marrying or living with a partner unless the law were to change so that I could protect my home and my money from them, in the event of a split up.
Linda, UK

I earn it, my wife spends it.
Keith, UK

I personally earn more money than my husband, but we share any financial burdens and decisions between us, although I always feel I should ask before even going to buy new clothes - I wouldn't feel comfortable spending anything just on myself without checking first.
Jennifer Longworth, Netherlands

At first when we first got married, we used to share the financial control and kept our heads above water. As the children were born my wife started to take full control and kept things secret, until I found out that she had been a little over keen on spending and landed us with thousands of pounds of debt and nearly a divorce. We still have no idea where the money went. I have now taken over control and we are doing really well, and have more spending money than ever. The moral - never keep important things secret from your partner, it may effect your relationship.
David, UK

Generally, I do not believe in having a joint account. I have known people forge signatures before now and they have run off with the partner's savings! I would not like to be left in such a vulnerable position.
Julie Bentley, Belgium

I maintain the investment accounts. When asked about the investments, I tell my wife she can see the statements anytime so long as I have three days written notice. This has worked for seven years.
Don, USA

I am the first to admit that I am hopeless when managing money. On the other hand, my boyfriend manages his finances very well. What's our solution? My boyfriend has a bills account and I put enough money in this account to cover my half of the household expenses every month. All the bills are then paid from this account with any surplus going into a savings account. This does mean that we have to be very open about our finances, and we discuss them on a regular basis. I think that this is a very good way of keeping track of everything.
Catherine, UK

No I don't have one, but I think that when you are involved with a man/woman, and you share everything you can't have secrets for each other

Hillianne Zondervan, Holland

Firstly, if there are "money worries", partners should talk about them. If they can't then they need to look at their relationship generally. My wife and I pool both our incomes and use it together. No secrets!
Richard, UK

When we started a family and my partner stopped work, my money became "our money" held in a joint account; men who humiliate their partners by leaving them constantly asking for money and having to justify every penny are basically selfish and greedy. This report does not differentiate between the two scenarios which makes it completely biased ¿ I¿ve seen many a higher paid girlfriend be just as tight.
Tom, UK

My Mother and Grandmother did this for years. I understand why they did it but I don't like it. The report is not a shock to me. Its not something I would choose to do myself. I would definitely approach the subject before lying to my partner. Although as a child I probably benefited from their deceit.
anon, UK

Perhaps more interesting would be how many partners secretly ferret away money that was not earned by them but by their husband/wife?

Mr.Cynical, UK

Each month we put half our wages into the joint account which is used to pay household expenses. This way I don't harass her about buying clothes and she doesn't complain about me buying power tools and DVDs.
Andy, UK

Both me and my husband work, we have one account, several investments and I'm in control of the lot! He is rather idle when it comes to household stuff and dealing with the finance is considered to be another chore. I have a good head for figures, not prone to overspending and generally sensible when it comes to money - but then I am a financial adviser!!
Gill, England

If you can't share your money, how can you hope to share your life. If you can't trust your partner with your cash what can you trust them with.
John, Nottingham

No I don't have one, but I think that when you are involved with a man/woman, and you share everything you can't have secrets for each other.
Hillianne Zondervan, Holland

My wife and I share all financial decisions and share all bank accounts and credit cards. I would like to ask what evidence has Ms Jayatilaka that fathers are less likely to spend money on their children? With more women becoming the major breadwinner and more men opting to look after the children does this concern still apply?
Kelsey, UK

Perhaps more interesting would be how many partners secretly ferret away money that was not earned by them but by their husband/wife?
Mr.Cynical, UK

Simple. Have three bank accounts. His Account, Her Account and Our Account.
Tim, UK

I certainly agree and think that¿s a very good idea and important to have secret account, I have two secret accounts one, one from which I hide money from my parents and the second one for when I get married, in case things go wrong. I come an Indian background and I think its very important to think about your own security as well as your child¿s.
Kam , UK

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See also:

16 Jan 02 | Business
Free financial planner for women
09 Jan 02 | Health
Money 'can buy you happiness'
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