AARP Bulletin Survey on Financial Honesty

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1 AARP Bulletin Survey on Financial Honesty September 2012

2 AARP Bulletin Survey on Financial Honesty By: Rebecca Perron, Ph.D. Copyright 2012 AARP 601 E Street, NW Washington, DC Reprinting with permission

3 AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for Americans 50+ and the world's largest-circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for the 50+ audience; AARP VIVA, a bilingual lifestyle multimedia platform addressing the interests and needs of Hispanic Americans; and national television and radio programming including My Generation and Inside E Street. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at Acknowledgements AARP collected data for this project through an online survey administered by ORC International. Barbranda Walls and S. Kathi Brown contributed to the questionnaire design and Jennifer Leslie reviewed and formatted the report. For additional information, please contact Rebecca Perron at

4 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. The survey was conducted by ORC International using its online omnibus survey service. Interviews were conducted in two waves-- from August and August 23-26, and yielded 1,263 interviews with adults ages 18+ who are either married or living with a partner. 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+). Key Findings 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). o Respondents ages 50 and older were more likely than younger respondents to have joint accounts (54% vs. 46%), while younger respondents were more likely than older respondents to have separate accounts (25% vs. 12%). 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. This is more common amongst the younger sample than those 50+ (20% vs. 11%). 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, though again, younger respondents were more likely than those 50+ to have done so (23% vs. 12%). 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%). Younger respondents were more likely to have withheld information on any of the topics asked than older respondents (27% vs. 12%). 1 Page

5 Detailed Findings Bank Accounts When asked whether they and their spouse/partner maintain separate bank accounts, joint accounts, or both joint and separate accounts, respondents indicated that maintaining only joint accounts is by far the most common banking strategy. In fact, a full half of the sample employs this strategy. An additional three in ten (31%) utilize both joint accounts and separate accounts. Respondents are far less likely to maintain only separate accounts from their spouse or partner (18%). Older respondents (ages 50+) are more likely than younger respondents to have only joint accounts (54% vs. 46%) whereas younger respondents (ages 18-49) are more likely than older respondents to have separate accounts only (25% vs. 12%). Chart 1: Which of the following types of bank accounts do you and your spouse/partner have? n=1263; In percent Total Joint accounts only Separate accounts only Joint and separate accounts 2 Page

6 Hidden Accounts While a very small proportion of our sample admitted to having any hidden bank accounts from their spouse or partner (5%), younger respondents were slightly more likely than older respondents to have a secret account (7% vs. 4%). Though it is still rare, a larger share (15%) of people who do not have secret accounts report knowing someone who has a bank account that is hidden from their spouse or partner. Younger respondents are almost twice as likely as older respondents (20% vs. 11%) to know someone with a hidden account. Chart 2: Prevalence of Hidden Bank Accounts In percent Total You have a hidden bank account (n=1263)* You know of someone who has a hidden bank account (n=1204)** * Do you have a bank account that your spouse/partner does not know about? (Base: All respondents) ** If no, Do you personally know anyone who has a bank account that their spouse/partner does not know about? (Base: Respondents who do not have a hidden account) 3 Page

7 Hidden Purchases When respondents were asked if they have hidden any purchases from their spouse or partner in the past 12 months, 17 percent indicated they had, again with younger respondents indicating a greater likelihood than older respondents of having done so (23% vs. 12%). Of those who have not hidden purchases from their spouse or partner in the last 12 months, 24 percent say they have ever hidden purchases. In total, 34 percent of all respondents have ever hidden purchases from their spouse or partner. (Chart 4) Chart 3: Prevalence of Hidden Purchases In percent Total Hidden purchases in past 12 months (n=1263)* Ever hidden purchases (n=1053)** * Within the past 12 months, have you hidden any purchases from your spouse/partner? (Base: All respondents) ** If no, Have you ever hidden any purchases from your spouse/partner? (Base: Respondents who have not hidden purchases) 4 Page

8 Chart 4: Percent of Respondents Who Have Either Hidden Purchases in the Past Year or Have Ever Hidden Purchases from a Spouse or Partner n=1, Yes No Withholding information related to financial matters When queried about various types of financial matters, few respondents say they have withheld information from their spouse or partner related to specific matters in the past 12 months. Of the types of information addressed in the survey, the most commonly withheld was information related to lending money to a friend or family member (8%), followed by the amount of credit card purchases (6%), the amount of one s debt (6%), the amount spent from joint accounts on personal purchases (4%), and the amount of money one makes (3%). Overall, almost one in five (19%) respondents had withheld information in the past 12 months on any of the matters listed. Younger respondents were more than twice as likely as respondents ages 50+ (27% vs. 12%) to have withheld information related to one or more item in the list. 5 Page

9 Chart 5: Withholding information from a spouse or partner about specific financial matters n=1263; In percent Total Loaning money to a friend or family member The amount of credit card purchases The amount of your debt The amount you spend from joint accounts on personal purchases The amount of money you make In the past 12 months, have you withheld information from your spouse/partner about any of the following financial matters? Survey Methodology 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. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-select for participation, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated. 6 Page

10 AARP Bulletin Survey on Spouse/Partner Financial Honesty Annotated Survey n=1263 **All chart numbers indicate percents** (Asked of those who are married or living as married; n = 1, = 604, 50+ = 659) F1 Which of the following types of bank accounts do you and your spouse/partner have? [Select one answer] Joint account(s) only Separate accounts only Joint and separate accounts Total (Asked of those who are married or living as married; n = 1, = 604, 50+ = 659) F2 Do you have a bank account that your spouse/partner does not know about? [Select one answer] Yes No Total (Asked of those who are married or living as married and have a bank account that spouse/partner does not know about; n = = 39, 50+ = 20) F3 Do you personally know of anyone else, not including yourself, who has a bank account that their spouse/partner does not know about? [Select one answer] Insufficient Base Size (Asked of those who are married or living as married and does not have a bank account that spouse/partner does not know about; n = 1, = 565, 50+ = 639) F4 Do you personally know anyone who has a bank account that their spouse/partner does not know about? [Select one answer] Yes No Total Page

11 AARP Bulletin Survey on Spouse/Partner Financial Honesty Annotated Survey (Asked of those who are married or living as married; n = 1, = 604, 50+ = 659) F5 Within the past 12 months, have you hidden any purchases from your spouse/partner? [Select one answer] Yes No Total (Asked of those who are married or living as married and in the past 12 months have not hidden any purchases from spouse/partner; n = 1, = 471, 50+ = 582) F6 Have you ever hidden any purchases from your spouse/partner? [Select one answer] Yes No Total (Asked of those who are married or living as married; n = 1, = 604, 50+ = 659) F7 In the past 12 months, have you withheld information from your spouse/partner about any of the following financial matters? [Select as many as apply for Randomize 01-05] The amount of your debt The amount of money you make The amount you spend from joint accounts on personal purchases The amount of your credit card purchases Loaning money to a friend or family member None of these Total (Asked of those who are married or living as married; n = 1, = 604, 50+ = 659) F8 Are you (or your spouse or partner) currently a member of AARP? [Select one answer] Yes No Total Thank you for participating in our survey! 8 Page

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