For better or worse...

Brits reveal the cash they splash in the name of love

Splitting the bill

Tradition dictates that couples heading for a romantic Valentine’s Day meal are unlikely to split the bill, but new research has revealed that one-off treats aren’t the only expense many men are offering to cover in the name of love. 

Pensions advice specialist, Portafina conducted research with 1,500 Brits1 to find out more about their attitude towards finances in long-term relationships, and to determine how much financial information (including earnings and assets) people are prepared to share with their nearest and dearest.

The data revealed that 28% of men completely financially support their partner – even if they earn less than their significant other. In sharp contrast, this figure was just 10% for women. Interestingly, the study revealed that a willingness to pay for things is only slightly higher in men (22%) than women (19%). When compared with the previous statistic, this suggests that 6% of the men who are completely financially supporting partners may be doing so out of necessity.

Sarah Harris, 31, from Cardiff said: “I have been with my partner, Mark, for about four years. He earns a similar amount of money to me, but he does tend to pay for more things – that is his choice.

“I am very happy to split things 50/50, but he says that he feels I do a lot more to keep our lives ticking along (such as washing, cooking etc.) and whilst I am more than happy to do these things, covering the cost of a big food shop or paying for my car to be repaired is his way of saying thank you.

“I really appreciate it, and don’t feel in any way that he is paying me to do household jobs (that would be weird). His financial support usually means I can afford to go out for a nice lunch with my friends once a fortnight, and I’m grateful for that. What can I say – it works for us.”

The study also found that nine in ten people (90%) don’t take steps to protect themselves financially, whether this is a separate savings account or separate investments. When in a long-term relationship, 57% don’t openly discuss their finances with their partner. Almost one in ten (9%) even admitted that they don’t want their partner to know how much money they have and had intentionally gone out of their way to hide it.

The reasons for secrecy include having been hurt financially by a previous partner (11%), feeling uncomfortable because one partner has more or less money than the other (16%), and wanting to protect themselves financially in case of a break up (8%).

Cities where couples are the most financially secretive
Birmingham 53%
Liverpool 51%
Leeds 50%
Glasgow 50%
London 45%


Robert Kent, 26, from York, has a girlfriend of four years who does not know about his inheritance: “I inherited a lot of money when my grandparents died, and when I told my girlfriend at the time, it completely changed the dynamic of the relationship.

“Before, we’d been happy with occasional meals out or weekends away, but afterwards she was planning lavish holidays and dropping hints about expensive gifts. I like the simple life, so became quite frustrated with the situation.

“When we broke up and I met my current girlfriend, I just didn’t tell her about the money. Even though I know she won’t react the same way, I don’t want the same thing to happen, and it would be really awkward to mention it now.”

Jamie Smith-Thompson, managing director at Portafina, said: “This has been an interesting study for us, and the findings have been a real talking point in the office!

“Particularly interesting is that while many couples are very open about their money – even completely supporting a higher-earning partner – more than half don’t discuss details such as salary, debts and savings with their partner.

“The benefits of sharing important financial details with loved-ones, and knowing about potential pressure points should not be underestimated. Openness and communication in relationships can really help people to create a sustainable future lifestyle that will last the distance.”

Call 0800 304 7600 for a friendly chat about your pension

Important information

A survey of 1,509 Brits undertaken by independent provider TLF in Autumn 2016.

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