FROM secret spending to imbalanced power, finances can be an issue for many couples. Vicky Shaw finds out how to be a better money match.

Couples who save together are more likely to stay together, if new research is anything to go by.

A huge 95% of couples who save together say they're happy in their relationship, compared with 88% of couples who save independently. The research, commissioned by investment company, Bestinvest, also found that couples are more likely to save separately than together - with more than half (58%) choosing to save in their own personal account, compared with just over a third (36%) adding savings to a joint bank account.

Couples who make equal financial contributions are also more likely to report being happier, the survey of more than 2,000 people suggests. Again, 95% of couples who contribute equally to household finances and spending say they're happy in their relationship, compared with 89% who don't make equal contributions.

While many couples are living in financial harmony, there are also some secrets lurking, with large numbers admitting to either lying to their partner or keeping quiet about what they are spending their money on. More than half (58%) will they lie to their partner about where their money goes, with a quarter (27%) admitting they don't tell their partner because they feel guilty about their secret purchase.

Two-thirds (66%) of women are likely to make a purchase without telling their other half, compared with 62% of men. The most common purchases women keep quiet about are clothes, make-up and shoes, while men more generally opt to buy gadgets, clothes and booze without their partner's knowledge.

More transparency about finances leads to less stress, according to relationship expert Jo Hemmings, who is working with Bestinvest to shed light on couples' spending and saving habits. She says once deceptive spending behaviour becomes a habit, we can start to lose honesty and trust in the relationship.

"Where there is more transparency, there is likely to be less stress and more overall relationship satisfaction, so it isn't surprising that those couples who have that kind of open and honest approach to their savings and finances in general, will report having happier relationships," says Hemmings.

Here are Hemmings' and Bestinvest's tips to avoid money becoming a burden on your relationship...

1. Have regular discussions about your saving goals

One of the factors that often prevents couples from saving together, is the lack of clarity on what you are actually saving for. These goals may change over time - from saving for a deposit on a home, to buying a new car or going on holiday. Talking about what you want to accomplish and by when, gives a focus to your saving plans.

2. Talk openly about what you're spending on or what you plan to spend

Money can be a very emotional topic, often relating back to how much money you had as a child, or how your parents handled their income and savings. Reduce the emotion by having 'business' meetings about money. Take the conversations out of the house and schedule regular times and dates in a quiet public space, like a coffee shop or similar during less busy times.

3. Celebrate your achievements

Most of us have 'money worries' simply because we feel that we just don't have enough of the stuff coming in, while too much is going out. When you do save up a bit together, check in regularly to see how you're doing and go out for lunch or supper together in recognition of how well you're doing.

4. Make decisions together

Even if you're in a long-standing relationship, where one of you is responsible for some outgoings or savings, while the other is responsible for something else, it's never too late to shake it up a bit and decide that all the outgoings and the savings will be discussed together. Once a plan is in place for joint decision making, it can often take the pressure of the one who may have felt that they were carrying the heavier load or who, conversely, didn't have enough input into the decision making.

5. Review your joint outgoings regularly

There are so many online comparison tools, and tips and advice at your fingertips to help you get the best prices on those unavoidable expenditures like utility bills, credit card spending and insurance policies, that it makes sense to review these together regularly and see where you can save money. This sort of 'invisible' economising that has no impact on your everyday lives, can make a big impact on your savings together.