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AARP Bulletin Survey on Financial Honesty

The AARP Bulletin commissioned a national survey in August 2012 to determine how financially honest spouses and partners were with their mates and what types of financial topics they may or may not be completely open about.  Overall, while level of financial dishonesty is low, younger respondents (ages 18-49) were more likely in many cases to indicate financial dishonesty relative to older respondents (ages 50+).

Findings include:

  • When asked whether they and their spouse/partner have separate or joint bank accounts, half of the respondents report that they do not have separate accounts and instead maintain only joint accounts.  An additional 31 percent have both joint and separate bank accounts, while only 18 percent maintain separate accounts only (none shared with their spouse or partner).
  • Hidden or secret bank accounts are rare.  Only five percent of respondents admit to having a bank account that their spouse or partner does not know about.
  • Of respondents who do not have secret accounts, a larger percentage (15%) know of someone else who has a bank account that their spouse or partner does not know about. 
  • Hidden purchases are also rare, but not as rare as hidden bank accounts.  Slightly under one in five (17%) say they have hidden any purchases from their spouse or partner in the last year.
  • For those respondents who have not hidden purchases from a spouse or partner in the last year, almost one quarter (24%) say they have ever hidden purchases from their spouse or partner.  In total, about one-third (34%) of respondents say they have hidden purchases from a spouse or partner either in the past year or ever. 
  • When respondents were asked if they had withheld information about specific financial matters, the most commonly withheld topics were related to lending money to a friend or family member (8%), the amount of credit card purchases (6%), and amount of their debt (6%).  

The survey was conducted for AARP via online omnibus by ORC International, an independent research company. Interviews were conducted from August 20-26, 2012, among a nationally representative sample of 1,263 adults ages 18 and over.   Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. The data have been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the 18+ population. For more information, please contact Rebecca Perron at 202-434-6324.