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Brits spend millions 'in secret' each year

Press release: 15/05/2015

  • Millions of Brits keep purchases secret from their loved ones
  • The most common purchases that are kept secret are clothes, electronic gadgets and shoes
  • When lying about the true value of an item, Brits reduce the cost by half
  • Most spend in secret because they feel guilty about the true cost of an item or worry the purchase may cause a squabble with their partner

Millions of Brits are spending money on purchases that they keep secret from their loved ones.

New research from LV= home insurance reveals that more than 9.5 million Brits spent money in secret last year, or fibbed about the true cost of an item – with the average Brit spending around £1,600 in secret each year[1].

For men, the most common items to fib about are the cost are clothes, electronic gadgets (such as tablets and televisions) and sports equipment. While for women, clothes and shoes top the list, followed by jewellery and expensive makeup.

There are a number of reasons why Brits are hiding certain purchases. Most (42%) do so because they feel guilty about the true cost and 31% fear the purchase may cause a squabble. Close to a fifth (18%) don’t feel the other person would appreciate the item's true value, and 8% keep the purchase secret because they actually already own a similar item.

Brits are most likely to keep some of their spending secret from their partner (60%), followed by parents (39%) or friends (17%). Brits disguise these little extravagances from their loved ones in a number of ways. The most common methods include hiding the receipt (10%), throwing away the shopping bag or packaging (9%) and pretending a new item was old (8%). Others simply resort to lying about the true cost of the item, with the average Brit knocking off 49% from the item's value if confronted.

More than a third (36%) of those who have bought something in secret over the past three years have subsequently had the item they bought lost, stolen or damaged – most of whom (51%) either didn't have the item listed on their insurance policy or had listed it for less than its true value.

Generally, these white lies related to spending shouldn't cause too many issues for homeowners. However, if an item is worth more than £1,500 or the number of items significantly impacts the value of your overall home contents you need to make sure you let your insurer know so that if the worst happens you are able to claim back to the true cost.

Selwyn Fernandes, Managing Director of LV= home insurance

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All research unless stated otherwise was conducted by ICM Unlimited between 10 and 12 April 2015. ICM questioned a representative sample of 2,053 Britons.

  1. Source: ICM. The average secret spend is £200.87, and the average Brits spends in secret eight times a year. 200.87 x 8 = £1,606.96 = approximately £1,600.

Table 1. The top 10 items Brits have bought 'in secret' over the past three years



Percentage of people who have bought
this 'in secret' over the past three years








Gadgets and other electronics



Alcohol (e.g. fine wine)






Beauty products (e.g. expensive makeup and perfume)






Items associated with a hobby



Sports equipment



Kitchenware (e.g. coffee machine)


For further information please contact:

Emma Banks,, 0208 256 6714 / 07894 158 605

Sinead Meckin,, 0203 657 9779 / 07815 489087


LV= employs 6,000 people and serves over 5.5 million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trade unions.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.