Secret spending: The battle of the sexes


It's already common knowledge that men and women often have very different spending habits. But just how different are they, and how much do our loved ones really know about what we buy?

Last year, a report compiled by online investment management company revealed that around eight million people involved in relationships across the UK hadn't told their spouse the truth about their consumer spending. Put simply, British men and women are deliberately – and in some cases persistently - shopping in secret. So, what is it we're so keen to hide?

The Ladies

According to the results of the survey, the most frequently "undisclosed" item on most women's secret shopping lists was clothes. Shockingly, it turns out that nearly a third of British women will happily buy things like shoes and dresses without feeling obliged to tell their budget conscious partners anything about it. Mother's were also revealed to be more likely to hide spending on gifts for their children than fathers, with 29% admitting to doing so in 2013, compared to just 6% of men.

The Gentlemen

While men don't attract the same reputation for savvy shopping, they are certainly clued-up when it comes to keeping their purchases off the radar. While their partners may be more interested in ways to save money, 29% of men tend to opt for secret purchases that they will be able to smuggle into their home without their other half realising. Unsurprisingly, mobile phones, video games and electronic gadgets are the most common items loved-up men buy on the quiet.

Who spends the most: men or women?

The research also revealed that the overall amount deducted from the true cost when covering up a secret spend is an eye-watering £76.59. More than a third of those quizzed tried to claim that their items were “in a sale” to cover up their illicit spending, and over 50% of women used this tactic successfully. However, when it comes down to the hard numbers, it is in fact men who turn out to be the biggest fibbers. That's right; the survey showed that men – on average – knock a colossal £95.04 off the total cost when making a secret purchase; that's double the £57.20 that the ladies are comfortable hiding.

How do they do it?

Aside from fibbing about the price, Brits have also proven themselves to be rather more cunning when it comes to hiding their spends. 24% have admitted to destroying their receipts in the past, while 21% have gone one step further by hiding bank statements from their loved ones. 30% took the least dishonest approach, simply choosing not to mention their purchase at all. More worryingly, though, is the 11% who admitted to dipping into joint savings accounts to spread the cost of their hidden goods.

To beat the secret spenders this year, sign up for our free Money Dashboard budget planner, helping you to keep a simple record of all your incomings and outgoings, all in one place.

Back to blog home


All content is for informational purposes only and is the opinion of the author. Nothing on this website should be interpreted as "advice". Money Dashboard Ltd make no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or any damages arising from its display or use.

Related articles

Download app
Important Information: Money Dashboard Neon and Classic mobile and web apps are now closed as of 31/10/2023. Please see our FAQs for more information.