ASB research finds one in five New Zealanders keep financial secrets in relationships

6 April 2023

  • 22% of Kiwi in serious relationships keep money secrets from their partner, with the most common secret hiding spending or purchases.
  • While 83% of New Zealanders talk to their partner about money, only half are aware of their partner's financial commitments.
  • Men are around twice as likely to be in the strongest financial position in heterosexual relationships.
  • Two thirds are cutting back on non-essential spending due to higher living costs.

As rising costs put more financial strain on relationships, new ASB research has found many couples avoid crucial money conversations, with one in five Kiwi keeping financial secrets from their partner.

The ASB/IPSOS survey of 1,000 New Zealanders in committed relationships revealed one in five keep secrets such as loans, investments, income or spending from their partner. Middle-aged men are the most likely to do so, with around a third of males aged 34-54 hiding aspects of their finances. Women were more likely to hide spending, while more men conceal income from their other half.

Around one third of those who have been through a divorce or prior financial breakup keep money secrets from their current partner compared with 19% of those who haven't been through a financial split. 

Ahead of work, children and health, money was the leading cause of relationship stress among respondents. While 69% are talking with their partner at least weekly about finances, most stick to everyday topics such as spending, budgets and bills. Three quarters of Kiwi don't talk to their partner about investment, insurance, KiwiSaver or planning for retirement.

61% of respondents admitted limited understanding of their partner's overall financial situation. A quarter didn't know what their partner earns; around half (47%) were not aware of their partner's financial commitments such as loan repayments and child support, and two in five (39%) said their partner wasn't aware of their personal debts.

84% of Kiwi say they have a shared financial goal with their partner and just over half (54%) share responsibility for their finances equally with their other half. When asked about their income, assets and earning potential, 41% of men in heterosexual relationships said they were in the strongest financial position in their relationship compared with just 22% of women.

ASB GM Business Transformation and Customer Outcomes Rosalyn Clarke, who leads ASB's customer financial wellbeing strategy, says with the cost-of-living crisis impacting 92% of couples, being on the same financial page is even more important.

"Money is a loaded topic and our research found shame, fear, and worry that their partner would think differently of them were key reasons Kiwi are not honest about money in their relationships. Tackling finances together can feel overwhelming, but in the current economic environment, having open money conversations as a couple can provide opportunities to work together to improve financial wellbeing."

"If rising living costs are prompting you to talk seriously with your partner about money, or, if you'd like an impartial view on how you're tracking financially, ASB has tools to support all New Zealanders. Work through our checklist of things to consider, or book a free chat with one of our ASB specialists to discuss your financial wellbeing - come with your partner or alone, and get expert help to work through any money worries and set plans for a better financial future. Whether you are an ASB customer or not, and whatever your age or situation, we're here to help," adds Ms Clarke.

Note to editors:

1000 Kiwi in committed relationships aged 18 years and over from across New Zealand took part in the ASB/IPSOS survey. 50% percent of respondents identified as male and 50% percent as female.

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