Time to bank on the truth

Ever been less than truthful about the state of your bank balance? You’re not alone; according to new research, we’re a nation of financial fibbers. But, says Vicky Shaw, it’s time to face the truth

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Often, the old cliches have more than a ring of truth about them.

New research suggests that if your wife or girlfriend has ever uttered that well-worn phrase, “Oh, this old thing?” when you’ve complimented them on a dress/handbag/pair of shoes you’ve never seen before, they’re very probably lying.

Mind you, such levels of deception apply to both sexes – has your husband or boyfriend stuffed what looks suspiciously like a new gadget down the side of the couch when you walk into the room and pretended nothing’s up...?

Indeed, when it comes to fibbing about purchases and the general state of our finances, a report suggests it’s our nearest and dearest who are most likely to be on the receiving end. Nearly half (48 per cent) of us admit to being somewhat economical with the truth about money, according to the research from Standard Life (which surveyed 2,000 people), and we’re more likely to tell financial “white lies” to our partner than to anyone else.

Women were found to be more likely to lie to their other half than men, with secret shopping sprees one of the most common money-related matters that we’re less than truthful about – the ruses tend to be that we “bought something ages ago” or that “it was a bargain in the sale”.

Clothes and shoes were the purchases that women lie the most about, while for men it’s gadgets.

And the financial fibs aren’t just limited to spending habits, the findings reveal.

One in seven of us says we’ve lied about the amount of money we have stashed in savings, while one in 14 admits to being less than truthful about our earnings.

Interestingly, rather than making ourselves appear richer than we are, many of us are actually playing down how much money we have stashed in the bank or what’s in our pay packet. In fact, two-thirds of those who have lied about their savings say they have underplayed rather than bumped up the amount that they have in their nest eggs.

Women were found to be far more likely to do this than men.

These people guilty of painting a less than truthful picture of their finances should take a step back though, and see if it’s not just their partner they’re trying to kid, but also themselves.

Julie Hutchison, a consumer finance expert at Standard Life, says: “The first step to a positive financial future is to be honest with yourself about the state of your finances.

“If you are telling financial fibs to your nearest and dearest, the likelihood is that you’re not being totally honest with yourself either.

“And if you feel the need to tell lies about the state of your finances, this probably indicates they aren’t completely shipshape.”

If you think you need a financial reality check, here are Hutchison’s tips:

Don’t make money a taboo. Talking about money isn’t always about showing off or being boastful.

Have a money chat. Make a point of regularly sitting down with your partner, perhaps once a month, to go through financial matters and talk through any concerns you may have about spending habits.

Set a budget. Whether you’re trying to get back on track financially or cutting back to save for a rainy day, a budget can help you achieve your goal.

Draw up a list of your combined income and spending and look at where you can make savings. You may surprise each other about how much you could save.

Make your cash work. If you or your partner is underplaying the amount of money you have in savings, confessing this could help you chat through ways that you might be able to get better rates of return for your money.

Try to build up an emergency fund which could cover your outgoings for three months in a financial emergency.

Going online could help you take more control. Make the most of apps to keep you up-to-date on how much money you have and what you owe.

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