Spouses cheat on salaries

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Spouses cheat on salaries

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A 41-year-old engineer in Gangseo, southwestern Seoul, purchased two studio apartments in recent years - but didn’t tell his wife. He’s never actually told her how much he earns.

“You don’t know how the future will play out,” said the engineer, who declined to be named for obvious reasons. “I like to think of the investments as a safety net in case things don’t turn out the way they’re supposed to, especially when I get older.”

An office worker in his mid 40s living in Incheon, who has been married for nearly 15 years, doesn’t turn over his entire salary to his wife every month, a common habit of past generations of salaried working men. Instead, the couple puts a certain portion of each of their salaries in a joint bank account used for family and household expenses like electric bills and school fees. The balance of their earnings is set aside for personal expenses like playing golf on the weekend or going on short trips - sometimes separate from each other.

“We find it more convenient to spend some of our own income on ourselves,” said the office worker, who also didn’t want to be named. “I only have a ballpark figure for what my wife earns. Neither of us knows an exact figure for the other’s salary.”

Married couples in their 30s and 40s are playing by different financial rules from their parents, a study by Samsung Life Insurance released on Thursday reported.

In a study of 200 couples in their 30s and 40s, half did not the exact income their spouse earns.

When asked if they knew how much that their spouse made, 81 percent of husbands answered yes while 91 percent of the wives said the same.

But it turned out many were deluding themselves: only 38 percent of the men knew the figure within a margin of error of 5 percent. Among the wives, only 49 percent of the women got within 5 percent.

When the wives earned less than 1 million won ($878.71) a month, 67 percent of the husbands knew the exact income figure. But when a wife made considerably more - 3 million won or above - only 25 percent of the husbands knew a precise figure.

Wives had better knowledge of their husbands’ salaries. In the case of husbands earning between 2 million won and 3 million won a month, 56 percent of wives knew the exact figure.

When the monthly income was between 3 million won and 4 million won, 53 percent knew down to the last digit.

However, when the monthly income exceeded 4 million won, only 42 percent of wives knew.

Many wives were foggy about how much their families spent, the assets that they own and an exact figure for how much they owed.

On the subject of spending, 75 percent of the men in the family claimed they know how, while 96 percent of the women answered the same. But when their guess was checked against the actual spending figure, only 22 percent of husbands and wives knew the actual figure within a margin of error of 10 percent.

The pattern was similar for family assets. Some 90 percent of husbands said they knew and 89 percent of wives. In fact, only 37 percent got the figure correct within a margin of error of 10 million won.

Some 20 percent of spouses had guesses of assets that were 100 million won off.

“For successful financial management, the first step is to know exactly the financial state of the family,” said Lim Hana, senior researcher at Samsung Life Insurance. “A married couple needs to check their financial status by communicating with one another and spending time coming up with plans that help improve their financial state, such as managing spending and planning to pay off debt.”


BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joognang.co.kr]

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