One of the quirks of my financial relationship with my husband was the fact that he wasn’t very interested in what was happening with our money.
For the most part, he was just interested in whether or not he can make a purchase. If he wants to make a large purchase, he let me know in advance, so that I have time to put together a plan to make it happen.
I even had accounts in just my own name, because he didn’t want to be bothered with paperwork and signatures. However, these were accounts that he knew about, and that he could get information on if he wanted.
I like to think our situation was different from the more than seven million Americans who have bank accounts or credit cards that their live-in partners know nothing about.
Secret Financial Accounts and Financial Infidelity
According to a report from CreditCards.com, 4.4 million men and around 2.8 million women have either a bank account or credit card that they keep secret from a partner.
In many cases, this can be considered a form of financial infidelity since if you are hiding money from your life partner, you aren’t being honest.
If you are hiding money in a secret bank account, or spending money on a secret credit card, chances are, you know that you are doing something that doesn’t fit with the joint money goals you have with your life partner.
These types of accounts can cause problems in your marriage or partnership.
First of all, if you are spending a great deal of money on a secret credit card, it makes it difficult for your joint finances to stay up to snuff.
You might have to divert some of your joint income to make payments on your credit card. Eventually, that can strain your relationship as your partner wonders where all the money is going.
It can also be stressful if you each have an allowance, and you are constantly using yours to pay off your secret credit card spending. Eventually, you become resentful because of your lack of spending freedom, but there isn’t a whole lot you can do to change things without coming clean and asking for help — a situation that provides a whole other level of discomfort and concern.
Building up cash in a secret bank account can also be damaging. Unless you are using your bank account as a way to build assets in preparation for a divorce, it’s problematic when you don’t share your plans with your life partner. In fact, it can be problematic even when you’re planning for a divorce.
Eventually, in a divorce, you are supposed to disclose your assets, and that includes those you’ve been diverting to a secret bank account.
Creating your own secret stash also has other implications. When you build up money in a secret account, it means that you don’t plan on working with your significant other to create a better financial future.
While you might have your own account for discretionary spending, these types of arrangements should be something you and your spouse both agree on, so you know about each other’s accounts.
A secret account indicates that something might not be right. Since a partnership should be about working toward similar goals, it’s a red flag when you are keeping these types of secrets from the person you claim to love.
Financial Openness in Your Relationship
It’s important to practice financial openness in your relationship with your partner. If you have a live-in partner or spouse, you should periodically talk about money, and make it a point to touch base about different accounts and credit cards. It is also a good idea to talk about major purchases.
If you aren’t sharing information about spending, it’s easy to overdraw your bank account because your partner doesn’t know what’s going on.
Discuss what purchase amount should trigger a discussion about spending. Generally, my husband and I don’t worry about discussing purchases ahead of time if they amount to less than $100.
However, no matter the size of the purchase, receipts are always turned in after the fact, so that the amount can be entered into the personal finance software.
Take a look at your financial habits and partnership. If you have been hiding things from your partner, now might be the time to come clean — before the secrets become too much to keep.
Are You Keeping Financial Secrets from Your Partner?
In this day, when many of us have separate financial lives even after marriage, financial infidelity is a fairly easy trap to fall into. But is it all bad?
If Our Finances are Separate, Why Does It Matter?
When you have joint accounts, it is obvious that you need to be completely honest with your partner about your finances. However, what about if you have separate accounts?
While some spending might not be your partner’s business, the fact of the matter is that there are still joint expenses that need to be taken care of.
Besides, if you feel you have to hide something from your partner, that is an indication that there is something missing from your relationship, whether it is trust, or just the ability to openly communicate about money.
While you don’t have to report every little expenditure to your partner, regular, big purchases that affect your ability to contribute as agreed to the household finances can cause problems. Is your secret spending jeopardizing your ability to buy needed groceries or make the mortgage payment on time?
If so, it’s a problem — no matter how separate your accounts are.
Besides, if you are in a community property state, your poor credit score could drag your spouse down, and, in some cases, your separate accounts don’t matter. When you realize that some states’ laws make your finances your spouse’s finances, financial infidelity matters a lot more.
Hiding Your Money Stash
Another form of financial infidelity that doesn’t get a lot of attention is your growing money stash. Since my husband takes absolutely no interest in managing our finances, it’s all up to me.
He is so averse to being “bothered” with our financial management that he wouldn’t even open a joint savings account with me for our emergency fund. It’s in my name. It could be really easy for me to divert some of the household income (since he doesn’t know exactly what that is anyway) to the savings account that is completely mine.
However, squirreling away money without telling my husband would be an act of financial infidelity. I give him periodic updates on where we’re at, and how much is in there (not that he can access it).
That way, two or three times a year when he does show interest, we are both better equipped to make decisions together.
In the end, that’s what financial fidelity is all about: Making decisions together. Setting common goals, deciding on major purchases together, and being up front about financial habits and desires are all important parts of successful finances in a committed relationship.
It can be painful to share information about past debts and current financial indiscretions, but in the end it’s necessary.
You and your partner need to be adequately equipped for what’s next, and you need to be able to address financial problems head on. Together.
Are these 5 Money Lies Threatening Your Marriage?
For years, we’ve heard about how money is a factor in many divorces. A lot of the press revolves around the issue of fighting about money, or being stressed because of debt.
However, it’s not always just about the fighting. Sometimes, the money lies we tell in a marriage can be more of a threat. These lies represent what many term “financial infidelity,” and they can lead to difficulty in the marriage — and even lead to divorce — once the lies become public.
Are you telling money lies to your partner?
Here are 5 money lies that could be threatening your marriage:
1. Secret Accounts
While there are those that recommend that you keep your own money, in an account just for you, just in case something unpleasant happens to your marriage despite your best efforts, the line is often drawn at secret accounts. I have a savings account and an investment account that are entirely in my name.
However, these aren’t secret accounts; my husband knows about them. He even had a chance to make the joint accounts, but he passed.
A secret account is something that can cause a great deal of marital stress when your partner finds out. Most of us don’t like to feel as though our spouses don’t trust us.
Secret accounts may also cause problems if you and your spouse ever get divorced. There is no best way to hide money from your spouse. Hiding money during a divorce may be illegal. Be sure you know the laws in your state.
2. More Debt than You Say
When my husband and I got married, I had credit card debt. It was embarrassing to admit prior to our tying the knot, but I told him about all of it.
Don’t hide your debt from your significant other if you are getting serious. Your partner should know — especially since that debt might eventually affect him or her as well. Don’t hide your debt, and don’t pretend to have less debt than you do.
3. Hiding a Job Loss
I knew a guy who lost his job — and didn’t tell his wife about it. He was afraid to stress her out. Plus, he figured that she would want to help out by getting some kind of work, and he was committed to being a “provider” and didn’t want her working.
So he kept it a secret. He left the house every day and applied for jobs. He worked on his resume, checked with workforce services, and collected unemployment.
And drew down the emergency fund.
After a few months of having no job, he had to admit he’d lost his job months ago — and hadn’t told her. She was understandably upset.
Not only had the lie implied that she couldn’t handle the situation with him, as his partner, but it also meant damaging their financial situation, when she might have been able to help by cutting costs and maybe getting a part-time job.
4. Secret Spending
Just as secret accounts can weigh on your marriage, but secret spending can be an issue, too. I’m not talking about the occasional book purchase. I’m talking about compulsive spending, or big ticket spending.
My husband and I don’t sweat a lot of the small purchases we each like to make through the month. Sometimes it results in a “when did you get that scarf?” type question, but it’s not like we actively hide purchases from each other (unless they’re gifts).
Before you make a major purchase, make sure that you discuss it with your partner. And if you have a shopping addiction or other issue, discuss it and try to work with your spouse to overcome the problem.
5. Not Sharing the Good News
Did you get a raise?
Did you have some lottery winnings?
Did one of your relatives leave you something valuable?
If you get good news, you should share that extra income with your spouse. Keeping anything, even the extra income, from your spouse can be a recipe for disaster when he or she finds out.
And it can cause you problems in court if your marriage ends in divorce.
Divorce courts look down on those who hide assets from their spouses, and that can go against you when your spouse divorces you over a money lie you told.