News & Resources

Cost of Love in Canada 2020: Canadians Say They Hide Financial Secrets from Their Partners

Feb. 5, 20
5 mins
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Canadians are committing financial infidelity, according to a recent national survey conducted by Rates.ca. Although 80% of Canadians in a relationship say they have no financial secret, 16% say they do have a secret. Among the secret keepers, nearly half (47%) say the funds exceed $1,000, while 17% say the value of their secret exceeds $10,000.

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Financial secrets can impact not only an individual but a partnership when buying a home, financing a car, or making significant buying decisions. Making smart financial choices and progress toward debt management can help avoid disappointment and build savings for the future.

A Breakdown of Financial Secrets

Financial Secrets and Relationships

Canadians who are dating or engaged are more likely to have a financial secret than those that are married or separated. Of the 11% of Canadians who are dating, 23% have a financial secret. Of the 4% of Canadians who are engaged, 24% are concealing a financial secret. Whereas 14% of those who are married or separated are hiding their finances.

The Relationship Status of Canadians:
Relationship Status Percentage of Canadians Percentage Hiding a Financial Secret
Separated 3% 14%
Married 45% 14%
Engaged 4% 24%
Dating 11% 23%
Not in a Relationship 36% N/A

Boyfriends, husbands, or male significant others are more likely to have a financial secret than their girlfriends, wives, or female counterparts, at 19% to 13% respectively.

The Secret Keepers:
Gender Percentage of Canadians Hiding a Financial Secret
Male 19%
Female 13%

Younger Canadians (18-34) are more likely to say they have a financial secret than those aged 35 and over.

The Age of Canadians Hiding a Financial Secret:
Age Percentage of Canadians Who Have a Financial Secret
18-34 29%
35-54 18%
55+ 7%

They are also less likely to be in a serious relationship (married or engaged), so young dater beware.

The Age of Canadians in a Serious Relationship:
Age Percentage of Canadians Who Are Married or Engaged
18-34 30%
35-54 55%
55+ 57%

Hidden Money and Debt

Canadians are hiding financial secrets of all sizes. And, 23% of Canadians in a relationship, who have a financial secret, are hiding two or more. Most secret keepers say they are hiding purchases they make from their significant other (31%). While 28% say they are hiding their poor credit score, 21% have hidden cash, 14% have hidden bank accounts, and 10% have a secret line of credit or a loan term loan.

The Financial Secrets Canadians are Hiding:
Financial Products Percent of Canadians Hiding Financial Secret
I hide purchases I make from my significant other 31%
I have a poor credit score 28%
I have hidden cash 21%
I have a secret bank account 14%
I have a secret line of credit or long-term loan 10%
I have a secret credit card 8%
I have secret investments 9%
I have credit card rewards points I haven’t told my significant other about 7%
I took out a secret payday loan 5%

Although only a small number (5%) of Canadians have a secret payday loan, this number is concerning. Payday loans typically have higher interest rates, which could make the debt repayment more challenging or even unmanageable.

The Value of Financial Secrets

Canadians have large skeletons in their piggy banks, with 47% of respondents admitting their secret exceeds $1,000. While 29% of Canadians have financial secrets that exceed $5,000. However, 2 in 5 Canadians (42%) say the value is less than $1,000. Only 14% of respondents say their financial secret is under $100.

The Value of Canadians’ Financial Secrets:
Financial Value Percentage of Canadians
Under $100 14%
$100-$499 18%
$500-$999 9%
$1,000-$4,999 18%
$5,000-$9,999 12%
$10,000 and above 17%
I don’t know 5%
I prefer not to answer 6%

Married or separated couples are more likely to have financial secrets under $1,000, at 46% and 53% respectively. However, couples who are dating or engaged are more likely to have secrets above $1,000.

The Value of Canadians’ Financial Secrets and Their Relationship Status:
Financial Value Dating Engaged Married Separated
Under $1,000 30% 39% 46% 53%
$1,000 and above 59% 54% 43% 27%

The Consequences of Hiding Financial Secrets

Canadians are committed to one another, as half of those with a financial secret say nothing would happen if their significant other were to discover the secret. Another 22% say the worst consequence would be to fight and find a solution, 2% feel it would result in a break-up, and only 1% say it would result in divorce.

Consequences If Financial Secret Discovered:
Consequence Percent of Canadians Say This Would Be the Result
Fight and find a solution 22%
Fight and break up 2%
Divorce 1%
Other 3%
Nothing would happen 50%
I don’t know 21%
I prefer not to answer 2%

Respondents who are dating or married are more likely to say “fight and find a solution” would be the result, compared to those who are engaged or separated.

The Relationship Status of Canadians Who Would Likely Find a Solution:
Relationship Status Percentage of Canadians
Separated 6%
Married 23%
Engaged 13%
Dating 22%

Canadians aged 55 and over are the least likely to say fight and find a solution would be the result. However, that same age group is most likely to say nothing would happen, at 56%.

The Age of Canadians Who Would Likely Find a Solution:
Age Fight and Find a Solution Nothing Would Happen
18-34 27% 48%
35-54 26% 44%
55+ 14% 56%

That means the majority of Canadians say revealing their secret would have minor consequences or none all at. Which raises the question, “Why are Canadians hiding their financial secrets?”

The answer may come down to financial literacy, a lack of understanding of credit products, and insufficient knowledge of debt management solutions.

How to Manage Debt Effectively

A better understanding of interest rates, debt, and credit scores may help Canadians better comprehend the risks as well as advantages to credit products. If Canadians use credit products responsibly, they may be able to access lower interest rates on money products such as mortgages or car loans. However, if credit products are misused, Canadians may find themselves in financial trouble.

These misunderstandings can make credit products seem scary; however, even if debt accumulates, there are solutions to make the debt more manageable.

Talk about debt

By keeping financial secrets, Canadians may lose out on valuable support from their partners. For example, accessing two incomes can help. If a couple were to pool their resources, they could pay down the balance of the debt quicker and save money on interest payments. They may also be able to offer support through the process and keep the plan on track.

Budget

Determining how much money you can pay toward a loan is a good place to start. By tracking your expenses and finding how much money is coming in (income) versus going out (being spent), can help you see where you can cut back. Allocate at least the minimum payment, or hopefully a greater percentage of your income, toward the debt repayment each month. When the budget permits, pay more. You may even want to set up an automated payment to stick to your goal. If you have more than one type of debt, focus on paying off the one with the highest interest rate first, so you pay less in interest over the long term.

Use alternative resources

You may find help where you least expect it — some rewards credit cards offer a statement credit as an option, instead of redeeming the points for more merchandise, gift cards, or travel. If the account is in good standing, a cardholder can use their points toward their balance. Although this probably won’t make a large dent in the debt, even some progress is better than no progress. It also helps ensure your rewards won’t go toward frivolous purchases.

A balance transfer credit card

Take advantage of a credit card that offers 0% balance transfers. Although each card is different, a balance transfer typically costs a small fee or percentage of the amount you wish to transfer to access the promotional interest rate. If used responsibly, the interest rate and fee would generally cost less than the interest you would pay otherwise.

Keep in mind; the interest rate usually expires after three months to a year. Also, if you miss a payment, you generally lose the right to the promotional offer and end up paying regular interest rates.

The best way to use a credit card with a balance transfer feature is to avoid putting any new purchases on the card, make regular payments, and focus on paying off the balance while the interest rate is low.

Low-interest rate credit card

A standard interest rate on a credit card is around 19.99%. A low-interest rate credit card may offer a rate of around 12.99%, which is significantly less. Some low-interest rate credit cards may also offer a promotional balance transfer offer, which can have additional benefits.

Debt consolidation

Debt consolidation is often a loan that combines your debts in one place, often at a lower interest rate. Typically, your bank would lend you the amount of money for your outstanding debts. You would take that money and pay them off. This way, you would end up with only one payment to make, with a set term. So, there would be an end in sight.

However, you typically achieve debt consolidation through home refinancing or lines of credit, which have lower approval rates.

About the Survey

An online survey of 1600 Canadians was completed between January 3 - 6, 2020, using Leger’s online panel. The margin of error for this study was +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

Hayley Vesh

Hayley Vesh is a creative, resourceful, and knowledgeable content producer who is passionate about financial literacy, storytelling, and generating ideas. She writes about credit cards, savings, debt management, and personal finance. In her spare time, Hayley can be found wandering in the woods, hunting for second-hand treasures, or curled up with a steeped tea and a good podcast.

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