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Media Release

‘Til debt do us part’

The new home truths regarding Australian couples and their money

16 March 2020

St.George research uncovers why couples are secretive about their finances and what women can do to build their financial confidence

The St.George Family Finances survey, released today, has found talking about debt is still taboo in relationships and that almost a quarter (24%) of Australian couples don’t trust their partner when it comes to managing money. Over a quarter (27%) of Australians said that trusting their partner with managing money depends on the circumstances.

As a result, almost 1 in 10 people in committed relationships are not open and honest with their partner about debt and their financial situation.

Meanwhile, 16% of couples feel that managing personal debt adds an extra level of stress to their relationship and a further 17% said that it sometimes does.

Ross Miller, General Manager, St.George Bank said couples and families need to have honest conversations about their financial situation, even if they might be uncomfortable.

“Trust and openness are so important in committed relationships, particularly when it comes to money. From this study, we found that across the board, couples aren’t talking about money nearly enough. This is a problem because we know that those in debt could see their financial situation snowball, causing potential problems for them and their relationship in the future.”

The study also found that 20% of people have inherited debt from their partner or a past relationship and only half of those have talked about it openly to work through it.

“Being open is particularly important for couples because ultimately, at some point in their lives, their true financial situation is likely to be revealed. Whether it’s problems with credit history when they apply for a home loan, combining household income for a family tax return, or in the unfortunate incidence of getting a divorce, a person’s financial situation can rarely stay secret in a relationship forever,” Mr Miller said.

Mr Miller advises that sitting down together with a personal banker and working out how you can best structure your accounts and debt obligations will help to avoid problems down the track.

“A banker can help you to track your spending, consolidate your debt and possibly reduce your loan or credit card repayments so you can work towards your financial goals openly and honestly. We know from conversations with our customers that this can lift”

Unfortunately the study also found 26% of single women, and 17% of those in a relationship feel embarrassed about their financial situation (vs 15% of men), while an overwhelming proportion of men remain the “bread winner” (75%).

“There are so many free resources and programs available to women to help them become their own CFO and feel more confident in managing their finances. To tap into these, a good place to start is Ruby Connection which connects and educates women on building sustainable and profitable futures,” Mr Miller added.

The Davidson Institute also offers a great range of free tools to support money management for individuals, businesses and community groups.

Additional findings from the research

  • Men also feel more financially independent with 28% of men saying this confidently compared to 23% of women
  • Women save less than men with almost a quarter (24%) saving $0-$500 compared to 16% of men who save between this same amount
  • Men are more likely to have cash savings of over $15,001 with almost a third (28%) saving this amount compared to 23% of women
  • Women are more likely to use buy now pay later schemes with 9% compared to 3% of men
  • However, men are more likely to use a credit card with 20% compared to 14% of women
  • Women are contributing to the household with 54% of women managing the household budget compared to 46% of men

To see some of these findings in an infopgraphic, click here.

Media enquiries:               

Alicia Campagnolo

E: alicia.campagnolo@westpac.com.au

M: 0435 697 355                                  

About the research:

Conducted through Pure Profile on 24 February 2020, we surveyed over 1500 Australians, across all states including those in a relationship and those who are single.

For additional information:

Ruby Connection: https://rubyconnection.com.au/

Westpac’s Davidson Institute: https://www.davidsoninstitute.edu.au/