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Debt deception: 2.7 million Australians have lied to their partners about money


Over a quarter of the adult population admit to being less-than-truthful with their partner about money, according to new research by Finder.

The nationally representative survey of 1,004 respondents revealed that more than 1 in 4 Australians (28%) have lied to or been lied to by a partner about their finances.

The survey found that 14% of Australians have lied about their money in a relationship, while another 14% say they have been lied to by their partner – each equivalent to 2.7 million people.

Finder's analysis also found that men are twice as likely to lie about their money, with 20% of men saying that they've been untruthful to their significant other, compared to just 9% of women.

Taylor Blackburn, personal finance specialist at Finder, urged Australians to be transparent with their partner when it comes to their finances.

"Depending on how serious your financial indiscretions are, lying to your partner about money can be a dealbreaker.

"While they may seem like little white lies now, being dishonest about your finances can come back to bite you down the track.

"Speaking to your partner openly about money can help you both get on the same page and reduce some of that financial stress."

The biggest cause of deception was hidden debt, with 50% of those who have been in an untruthful relationship saying unpaid dues were the cause of the dishonesty.

The research also revealed that 44% of partners who lied did so because they wanted to maintain control over their own finances.

Meanwhile, more than 1 in 3 partners in untruthful relationships (35%) have hidden secret purchases from their partner, with women more likely to have concealed their spending than men.

Blackburn said that conversations about debt can be hard to have, particularly with a romantic partner.

"There can be a lot of shame around poor money management, so the instinct to hide debt or spending splurges is not uncommon.

"The reality is, most of us will experience some form of debt – from mortgages to credit cards to buy-now-pay-later schemes. The problem is when you have no plan to tackle it.

"Missing repayments can lead to a low credit score, which can impact your ability to buy a house or borrow money.

"Get on top of your finances by downloading a money management tool like the free Finder app.

"The app allows you to easily see how much you owe, see how much you are spending and track your credit score," Blackburn said.

If you or your partner is struggling with debt, the National Debt Helpline offers free financial counselling.

What were the reasons for the untruthfulness?
Control of own finances44%
Secret purchases (shopping addiction, etc)35%
I don't know6%

Source: Finder survey of 1,004 Australians in January 2021 (tick all that apply)Image

How to talk about money with your partner:

  • Figure out your financial goals. Understanding each other's financial priorities will help to keep you and your partner on the same page about money. Whether these are short-term or long-term goals, they will help to inform your current relationship with money.
  • Deal with debt. If you or your partner have existing debt, it's important to address that first so it can be factored into any ongoing financial decisions. Depending on your situation, you may want to consolidate your debt, lower the limit on your credit card or switch to a balance transfer credit card.
  • Set a budget. Setting a budget together can help you avoid any surprises when footing the credit card bill. It can also be a motivational way to work with your partner towards a shared goal, such as a house deposit, with the added benefit of making you think twice before buying something you don't need.


  • Finder conducted a Qualtrics survey of 1,004 respondents in January 2021.
  • Calculations are based on population data from ABS.

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