Are you honest with your partner about your spending habits?

- February 14, 2022 3 MIN READ
How honest are you about spending?

Love and money is always tricky but it seems millions of Australians are happy to keep their spending habits a secret from their partner. Almost 20 per cent of us aren’t honest about spending.

A new Canstar survey asked Aussies how much money they feel is acceptable to spend without telling a partner. The results revealed that 19 per cent feel they shouldn’t have to disclose any of their spending to their partner.

On the flip side, 25 per cent believe you should tell your partner about all spending, regardless of how big or small. Around 20 per cent say you should check in with your partner for anything over $99.

Approximately 18 per cent feel it’s acceptable to spend anywhere between $100 to $499 without checking in with their significant other, while 17 per cent say between $500 and $4,999 is acceptable.

The Canstar love and money survey found:

How honest with your partner are you about spending

Source:, February 2022. Survey of 2,922 Australians aged 18+. Commissioned by Canstar and conducted online via Qualtrics in February 2022. Results rounded to the nearest whole percentage point.

Pooling your money in a relationship

All the experts advise the secret to a successful relationship is to be open, honest and transparent with each other (everyone’s nodding)… and that includes money (nodding stops, concerned look on face).

What is it about money and couples? Is it some primal survival instinct which kicks in which drives us to keep our secret stashes of cash?

I can certainly understand doing this when you’re in a relationship where you have doubts about its survival. But Libby and I have a lot of long-married friends who still keep separate accounts.

In fact, the Canstar survey revealed that 43 per cent of Australians in a relationship say they share their banking passwords and pin number with each other with both having access. A further 27 per cent are the exact opposite saying they don’t share access with each other while 25 per cent admit to only one partner knowing the other partner’s passwords or pin numbers.

Bigger pool, happier couple

Perhaps this is because it’s much easier to be honest about spending when the accounts are shared? Research out of the US shows the more you pool your money the happier you are.

The study by TD Bank showed where people keep 5 per cent for individual discretionary spending, they are no less happy than if 100 per cent is pooled. In other words, keeping a small amount separate makes no difference to your happiness.

But people who pool 80 per cent are much happier than those who pool 70 per cent or less. People who keep all their individual income to themselves in a relationship are the least happy.

There are a couple of reasons why this happens.

The first is a selection bias. If your relationship is on the rocks you’re more likely to keep more as protection against the inevitable.

Secondly, if you don’t pool income you spend a lot more time arguing about money and how to split expenses. It accentuates earning disparity as one accuses the other of not carrying their weight.

Finally, pooling income reinforces trust in each other – you’re automatically honest about spending when your account is shared. It also makes you work harder to keep your relationship on track during hard times. If you each have separate money, it’s easier to just walk away without the commitment.

There are so many give-and-take decisions to be made in a relationship that pooling income makes for one less negotiation. But it is an individual decision. There are always going to be pros and cons on both sides, and each situation will differ depending on the couple.

Same financial page

Your first step is to sit down with your partner and make sure you’re on the same financial page. Money issues can tear a marriage apart if you don’t have consistent goals and values. Being honest about spending habits is part of that.

The benefits of joint accounts are administrative ease, lower costs, money is easier to manage, it’s simpler to budget and funds are always readily available for both partners. On the other hand, it can be tricky if one spouse is a bigger spender, or worse budgeter, and you constantly have to keep an eye on the balance.

While there’s no definitive answer, there are a few questions that you should be asking each other before you make the decision:

  • Do you have a joint budget?
  • Do you have similar spending habits?
  • What makes you feel more comfortable?

It might be more convenient to join your bank accounts, but if it just doesn’t feel right then it’s not worth doing.

Joint or separate, it really doesn’t matter. So sit down together, crack a bottle of wine and have a chat about your finances and what is going to be best for your relationship and financial situation.