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Women twice as likely as men to have a secret 'cash stash'

10th November 2014 Print

Almost half of British adults (48%) have ‘fibbed’ when it comes to their finances, a new survey by long term savings and investment specialist Standard Life has revealed. The research, among 2,000 respondents, shows that from a given list, Brits would be most likely to tell financial ‘white lies’ to their partner than anyone else (15%)

More than one in five married Brits (21%) would be most likely to fib to their husband or wife about money matters, while the figure is 20% for those not married but in a relationship.  When it comes to hiding money, women (9%) are nearly twice as likely as men (5%) to have a secret stash of money - such as a bank account that they have hidden from their partner.

Overall, 44% of British men admitted telling financial fibs compared to 51% of women. Secret shopping sprees are the most common money-related matter that we lie about (19%) – for example saying we ‘bought it ages ago’ or that ‘it was in the sale’ when the truth is actually very different.

The younger generation is the most likely to tell financial fibs. Sixty-one per cent of 18-24 year olds tell money lies, falling to 38% for those aged 55 and over.

Top five financial fibs

From a given list, the real cost of clothes or shoes is the purchase that women would be most likely to fib about (19%), while for men it is the cost of a new gadget (11%).

Top five financial fibs men and women tell


Level of debt (16%)

Amount of savings they have (14%)

A purchase (14%)

How much they saved on a purchase (13%)

How much money they have (12%)


A purchase (23%)

Amount of savings they have (14%)

How much they saved on a purchase (14%)

Level of debt (14%)

How much money they have (13%)

Frugal fibbing

However, the financial fibs were not just limited to spending, 14% of people have lied about the amount of savings that they have.  Interestingly, two-thirds (65%) of those who have lied about their savings have underplayed, rather than inflated, the amount they have saved up. Seventy-two per cent of women who lied about savings underplayed the amount compared to 58% of men.

When it comes to our salary, seven per cent of Brits admitted ‘salary subterfuge’. However, nearly half (46%) said that when they have lied about their salary to family or friends, they said they earned less than they did, reflecting the typically British characteristics of understatement and modesty.

Commenting, Standard Life's Consumer Finance Expert Julie Hutchison 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.

“Our research shows that the main thing we tell white lies about is the cost of items. If you’re spending more on an item than you feel comfortable admitting to, perhaps it is worth considering if you can really afford to spend the cash, or moreover, if that money could be better placed in savings or investments to make your future more comfortable.”

Julie Hutchison’s top five finance reality-check tips

1) Don’t make money a taboo. In Britain, talking about money can be seen as a real taboo area but it shouldn’t be. It’s not about showing off or being boastful – if you need to discuss a money issue, just do it.

2) Have a money chat. As our research shows, we’re more likely to lie to our partners than anyone else about money. Make a point of sitting down with your other half once a month to go through financial matters and raise any concerns about spending habits.

3) Set a budget. Whether you are trying to get back on track with your finances or making cuts to allow you to save up for a rainy day, a budget is an invaluable tool. Just draw out a list of all your income and expenditure and look at where you could make savings. 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. Brits are more likely to underplay the amount of money they have in savings than inflate it. If you have a nice stash of money saved up, you could also consider ways to invest it and make it grow, as opposed to letting it sit in an easy-access, low-interest account. Try to build up an emergency fund first to cover your outgoings for at least 3 months first – a cash ISA could help here.  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 stock market, but you can choose a fund which has less risk if that’s a concern. 

5) Go online to get in control. It’s easy to keep an eye on your bank account, savings, investments and mortgage online these days.  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?