Survey Finds Financial Honesty Is Hard to Come By in American Couples
40 percent of Americans in committed relationships say honesty about finances is more important than honesty about fidelity, new Lawyers.com survey shows
May 4, 2011 — New York, NY - A new national survey finds discrepancies in financial candor and spending habits among Americans aged 25-55 in committed relationships. Of these Americans, four in ten (40 percent) agree that honesty about finances is more important than honesty about fidelity (compared to 2005 in which 24 percent agreed with this sentiment), yet nearly three in ten (29 percent) admit that they have withheld information from their spouse or partner regarding their spending on discretionary items, such as apparel, accessories, electronics and entertainment.
The survey also shows that nearly all Americans in committed relationships (91 percent) agree that it is important to discuss their partner’s financial history before marriage, yet more than one quarter (26 percent) admit they tend to avoid talking about finances.
Findings from the 2011 Lawyers.comSM Couples & Money Survey, as well as legal tips and resources on how to protect oneself from the financial infidelity of a spouse or partner, are available at Lawyers.com – the leading online legal website for consumers and small business owners. The online survey was conducted by Harris Interactive in April 2011 among 949 U.S. adults ages 25-55 in committed relationships. The survey updates findings from a 2005 Lawyers.com study that tracked financial honesty and spending habits among American couples, and also includes new data from this year.
"There appears to be a disconnect between the beliefs and actions of a large number of American couples when it comes to disclosure of finances and spending habits between partners," said David Palmieri, vice president and managing director of the Marketing and Consumer Solutions team at LexisNexis. "We encourage people to visit Lawyers.com to learn more about resources – including cohabitation agreements, prenuptial agreements and other legal documents – they can use to protect themselves and, if necessary, to find a good lawyer in their area who specializes in family law."
Turn Back Time, Different Choices
The survey also found that a majority of Americans in committed relationships (85 percent) say they would do one of the listed activities differently to manage their financial situation if they had the opportunity to go back in time.
- Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) would put more money into savings.
- Nearly half (49 percent) would spend money more responsibly.
- Over four in ten (46 percent) would put more money into retirement account(s).
- Over one-third (36 percent) would put more money into investments such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
Additionally, one in five Americans in committed relationships (21 percent) would discuss financial goals/expectations earlier in their relationship and one in ten (10 percent) would be more honest with their spouse or partner about their spending if they could go back in time.
Other Survey Findings
- Other types of spending couples withhold from one another: One in ten say that they have withheld information from their spouse or partner about their household finances (12 percent), their debt (12 percent), their spending from a joint account (10 percent), or their salary (8 percent).
- Men are more likely to withhold the truth about their salary: Men are nearly twice as likely as women to say that they have withheld information from their spouse or partner regarding their salary (11 percent vs. 6 percent).
- Combined and separate bank accounts: Half of adults in committed relationships report that all of their bank accounts are combined with their partner’s (2005: 50 percent; 2011: 52 percent); one in five report that all of their bank accounts are completely separate from their spouse or partner (2005: 18 percent; 2011: 20 percent); and a quarter report having both combined and separate bank accounts (2005: 29 percent; 2011: 25 percent).
About the survey
The 2011 Lawyers.comSM Couples & Money Survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of LexisNexis between April 8 and 12, 2011 among 1,510 U.S. adults ages 25 – 55 of which 949 are in a committed relationship (that is, they are currently married, engaged or living with a partner). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
The 2005 Lawyers.comSM Couples & Money Survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of LexisNexis between July 29 and August 11, 2005 among 1,796 U.S. adults ages 25 – 55 who are married, engaged, or living with a partner. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
For a complete survey methodology for both surveys, including weighting variables, please reach out to one of the media contacts associated with this announcement.
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