Do You Keep Money Secrets From Your Spouse?

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Have you ever kept money secrets from your spouse?

Do you have a bank account they don’t know about; maybe a credit card?  What about little white lies such as the actual cost of something you bought?

Why do we keep money secrets from our spouses?  What do you have to hide?

Here are some of my thoughts why we would keep a money secret:

  • Control – Being completely open means you have to explain every expense.  Not everyone wants to do that.  Some would rather not have to answer for their spending and would rather not be criticized.
  • Not wanting to change - If you tend to spend too much then you may not be ready to have someone, especially your spouse, reign you in.
  • You’re cheating – Yeah, this is a biggie.  Someone cheating on their spouse has an incentive to have a secret credit card or bank account to spend with.
  • Shame/Embarrassment – Some people have bad money pasts.  Maybe you made some unwise mistakes like racking up too much credit card debt.  Maybe you don’t want your spouse to know you were bad with money thinking it’s a reflection of who you are.
  • Scared of reaction – The damage is done.  But you’re not sure what your spouse will do or say if they found out about your money secret.  Will they leave?  Will the relationship be ruined?  You think it might be easier to just not tell them.
  • Addiction – There are those that have a real addiction to spending.  They can’t control themselves and do what they have to to feed the addiction.
  • Denial – You don’t even realize that you’re keeping secrets.  Or at least won’t admit it to yourself.  In you’re reality there are no money secrets.

I think you need to be honest with your spouse.

Here are some reasons you need to be honest with your spouse about your money issues:

  • CommitmentMarriage is a commitment.  You make a pledge to be part of a union with another person.  When you keep secrets you prevent this union from being.  Sharing finances is part of the union.
  • A secret is a lieLies affect the trust between you and your spouse.  You also open the door to lie about other things as well.
  • Your spouse is there for you – Your spouse is the column that’s there to hold you up when you have a problem.  If your money issue is hurting you then enlist the help of your spouse and tackle the problem together.  Your spouse fell for you for who you are in totality and that includes your flaws.
  • Intimacy – How close can you really be if you are keeping secrets?  You may not realize it but the secrets you keep could be affecting your intimacy with your spouse.  You know what the two biggest reasons for divorce are?  Money and sex.  When your intimacy is affected… well you understand.
  • It’s childish - If you’re keeping secrets because you don’t want to be told what to do then that’s childish.  Fess up to your spouse and be an adult.
  • Communication – Secrets prevent open communication.
  • Kids – Your children see more than you think.  They see how you treat money and this becomes their education.  What are you teaching your kids?

How do you feel about keeping money secrets from your spouse?

Published or updated May 9, 2013.

Comments

  1. The idea of keeping money secrets literally makes me shudder. My wife and I have had combined finances since before we were even married.

    Seems like it’d be easier in the long run to just be open and honest. Keeping secrets–important ones, anyway–is hard work.

  2. I absolutely keep money secrets, but not for the sinister reasons. My husband is terrible with money, doesn’t understand our finances, and quite frankly, doesn’t want to. He has no idea that I’ve paid down almost half our debt and that I have a good chunk of money in savings for a down payment on a home when we’re ready.
    .-= corrin´s last blog ..June 21 thru 24 =-.

    • Sounds more like your husband just isn’t aware of the whole financial situation. Not sure that is the same as a money secret though. What I mean are those who would keep an account or card secret from their spouse.

      Still, it’s great that you are able to reduce your debt and build up savings!

  3. I have a co-worker who was keeping all kinds of money secrets from her husband. She had a secret checking account where part of her paycheck was deposited every month – and she would buy herself all sorts of neat little gadgets and toys with her “secret money”.

    Now a couple of years later she and her husband are getting a divorce. Go figure. Bad communication all around in that marriage, and it ended up killing the marriage.

    Personally, I could never keep money secrets. Besides it just being wrong, I’m a terrible liar! :)
    .-= Bible Money Matters´s last blog ..Ways To Watch TV Without Paying An Arm And A Leg For Cable Or Satellite =-.

  4. This is an excellent source of motivation that works to push people into doing the right thing! It reminds me of the biblical advice to “love your neighbor as yourself”, basically meaning, <em”treat others as you would want to be treated”.

    You wouldn’t like to be lied to, cheated on, or misled… so don’t do that to your spouse either.
    .-= Matt Jabs´s last blog ..Identify & Overcome Money Anxiety & Stress in Relationships =-.

    • Exactly! Trust your spouse to trust you. It should be a union of two people but there can’t be a union if your keeping money secrets( at least not a very good union).

  5. My husband hates talking about money. So I don’t tell him much beyond “we can do that” or “we can’t afford that right now.” My favorite thing, though, is when he announces some startling insight about what we should be doing with our money. And I tell him we’ve been doing it for months :) But I don’t keep secrets, and if he asks a question, I answer it — and back it up with evidence from Quicken.
    .-= Miranda´s last blog ..Help for Those with Student Loan Debt =-.

    • That sounds fine! Not everyone is good with money but it sounds like you take care of the money yet remain open and honest with where the finances are.

  6. Like many (most) things in a marriage, finances are a collaborative effort between both spouses and keeping secrets will undoubtedly cause problems down the line. It is understandable for one spouse to take a more active role in the finances (one spouse paying the bills because the other is forgetful), but I don’t think that should open the door for dubious financial activity.

    I read a book a few years ago called Money, A Memoir: Women, Emotions, and Cash by Liz Perle. I wasn’t necessarily secretive about my purchases before reading it, but after reading it really reinforced to me how damaging and senseless keeping money information and purchases from your spouse can be. If you need to hide a purchase from your spouse, maybe you shouldn’t have bought it in the first place!

    • Yup. Why would you need to hide a purchase? What’s the matter that you can’t confide in your spouse? I might have to take a look at that book.

  7. “Back it up with a quicken !!”

    Yes,I don’t divulge every expenditure with my wife. But I have a very detailed account of every expenditure just in case she ask.

    • Sounds great! I like the Quicken idea. My wife doesn’t always know what’s on my credit card but she can always look at the statement.

  8. I have a gf who is wanting to have 3 separate accounts when married. I understand the whole control and freedom part, but 3 separate accounts as a married couple is a bit ridiculous isn’t it

    • Has she explained why she wants the three accounts? I think a separate account isn’t so bad so long as there is agreement among the couple of why it exists and what it’s used for. I still think you should be able to share the info if asked.

      Sometimes a separate account for “silly money” is good for buying gifts or if you have a set amount you can use for whatever you want.

  9. I think one must be open with spouse on money matters . It helps get a sense of faith and belief between the two. Also joint finances are easier to manage and can be more effective in spending money wisely. It also sets in a sense of discipline among the spouses as they would not want to spend more than the other partner.
    .-= Money For Investment´s last blog ..MAKING EMI OR BILL PAYMENTS IN CASH TO A COLLECTION EXECUTIVE ? – CHECK THIS. =-.

  10. Gotta agree with Corrin on this one… Sometimes it should be a “need to know” situation.

    The other day when my wife and I were out, I had ample reason to pull my “reserve” money—a $100 bill I keep folded small and stashed away in my wallet—to pay for a transaction. She looked at me and she acted shocked, I’m certain thinking “well, what other secrets is he keeping?” I explained that I keep this for emergency situations only. I hardly ever have to use it, and then as soon as possible, I replace it.

    Now that my wife knows about it, I’m certain that she will be asking to use this more frequently for unnecessary purchases. I’m thinking that this is a secret I should have kept.

    • Why not have an understanding that this money can only be used in tight situations that you both agree to? Then you don’t need to have a secret. The fact that your wife may be wondering what other secrets you have can’t be good.

  11. Hiro – your girlfriend is smart. My wife and I have 3 accounts and it works great. Each payday, most of out income gets transferred to Joint, but she has her checkbook for her own shopping, places that don’t take credit cards. The only thing she has to “report” to me is a charitable donation so I make sure we get the receipt for tax time. I’ve seen too many people fight over bounced checks trying to manage one account.
    .-= JoeTaxpayer´s last blog ..The week’s blog reading =-.

  12. I think you shouldn’t keep any secrets about money from your spouse and even if a purchase may cause a “discussion”, I find full disclosure is the best policy :)

    I see more of this type of activity with second and third marriages, I don’t know if this is common or not.

  13. I think that if you feel you have to keep something a secret, that’s a pretty obvious indication that you’re doing something wrong. Clearly, you’ve spent too much or broken some other rule that you and your spouse have agreed to. Then you compounded the problem by lying to your spouse, which is a far bigger betrayal than a one-time slip up would be.

    When my husband started smoking again in secret, I was upset since he has asthma and since it’s incredibly expensive, as far as habits go. But the real hurt was that he didn’t tell me. In fact, there were one or two times that I asked him directly and he denied it. So he lied to my face. That hurt lingered far beyond the frustration of his renewed smoking. Since that was only about six months ago, there are times when I find myself wondering if he’s telling me the truth about other habits. I hate that feeling! I hate not being able to trust my spouse the way I did before. I know we’ll get over it in time, but it’s definitely something that will stick with me for awhile.
    .-= Abigail´s last blog ..Sometimes, it’s just about making progress =-.

  14. Unexpected money surprises are the worst kind of surprises. Speaking from my brother’s experience (not mine, thankfully), suddenly realizing one day that your spouse has put you into a huge financial hole can sink a relationship faster than anything. He was asking himself all the standard questions about trust in their relationship that people ask when they discover their spouse is cheating.

    They’re divorced now, and he’s still paying for her financial indiscretions, though not as badly as she is. He quickly learned to live on almost nothing to work towards repairing his finances. She only learned how to hop from one introductory-rate credit card to the next, destroying her credit score and eventually putting herself into bankruptcy, but she sure has some nice stuff in her house.

  15. threadbndr says:

    The three checking/bank account model isn’t really keeping a secret (imho). When my late husband was alive, we used that model. We each contributed to the ‘household’ account and had our own accounts. The individual accounts were very small and basically were our ‘mad’ money. If I was in a relationship now, I’d do that part in cash instead, but the checking accounts worked at the time.

    I actually like the ‘household’ vs ‘personal’ divide so much that I STILL have two checking accounts. It really helps me keep a handle on the fixed and discresionary expenses.

  16. There may be money secrets and stress between you and your spouse. But being honest with your spouse and bring all of those things that you were hiding in the dark into the light. Can make your marriage stronger. And this closeness, support, and strength can help you make it through difficult times.
    .-= Annie´s last blog ..Are You Really Ready To Ask Someone To Co-sign For You =-.

  17. My parents had a joint account and shared some basics of their finances with my sister and I when I was younger, so it was a natural thing for me to be open with my husband even before I got married.
    Early on in our marriage we discussed our financial goals, which on top of our list was to be debt free as soon as possible. So all other purchases have been judged against that goal and the knowledge of where every penny has to go in our budget.
    You feel alot freer when you have no secrets hanging over your head and when you have a game plan. You can respond quickly and easily because you’ve already pre-decided what you would do with room for exceptions that merit discussion. Today’s choices don’t stay quiet and do affect your future.

  18. I don’t know so much about secrets but I don’t necessarily volunteer everything…of course they’re all on my blog to see. He’s just not interested and expects me to take care of everything. I think in most relationships there might be one person that’s better at taking care of the finances than others and the task naturally falls to one person.

  19. angry daughter says:

    I am very upset with my father, about three years ago he got injured at work, and just now he is getting a settlement, hes always fought with my mom. Hes always threaten her in leaving, us the kids always say, do it and not say it. its been like this for years. But i guess you kinda get used to it. what i am upset about is, when my father gets his money, he said hes leaving, he’s fed up with my mom and everything. My question is, can he leave and take all his settlement with him, without giving her a penny, though i know she doesn’t mind the money as long that he leaves. Shes tired too of the fighting, i’m just not to happy with him leaving her and not divorcing her and taking off just like that without giving her a penny. Is she entitled to half? And yes, us the four kids they had, we are all grown and married. So i would hate to see my mom abandoned just like that without a penny. Can someone please tell me what should be done and is my father right because its his settlement from his work from his accident.

  20. This has all got me slightly worried now. My husband left his bank statement on the kitchen top once and I casually picked it up. He snatched it from my hands saying that I was spying on him which made me suspicious so I grabbed it back and to my amazement he had £2500 deposited but not from work. When I asked him where it was from and why he had hidden it for so long he said his nan gave it too him and that he didnt want to tell me because I would talk about what we were going to spend it on. We had a big long conversation about the deciept rather than the money and he agreed that he would not do it again. Anyway, the other day I was looking for a business card of his and came across a check that was from his nan that he had not told me about. What is going on. Did he just not listen the first time?

  21. My husband is terrible with money. I should have known when I bailed him out of his truck reposession just before we got married. that was ten years ago. He was a marine, and I am a disabled vet from the air force. we had a girl and a year later he got out of the marines refusing to work in the industry he was trained for. I have been going to school full time trying to get my A&P, a skill i can use to get a job to pay for myself and my now 2 kids. He now has a pretty good job, but every paycheck the money flies out of our account like mad. two months and we have no money for food at the end of the pay period. he hired a personal trainer that cost 120 a month in january, its now september, and i have asked him every single month to stop the autodraft. He doesnt even use the personal trainer. I tried to call but they wont let me cancel it because its in his name.. he keeps saying he will… month after month. he also spends fice dollars a day on copenhagen. he comes home with dvd’s and I feel guilty buying myself a new bottle of shampoo. we are very close to but slightly above the federal poverty line so its mpossible to get any assistance. whenever we run out of money he goes and secretly gets payday loans, that cost an arm and a leg. i find out the next paycheck when the autodraft comes out. this all wouldnt be a problem if i hated him, i would leave it would be easy, but after a ten year marriage i think i have taken on an aire of excuses, and explaining to myself that its his money, and i really do love the guy. do i keep going to school and leave when i can get a better job, or do i stay and try to work things out. he refuses to talk about money or look at the budget paperwork i have made. i don’t know what to do really, seperate accounts got us into trouble because i usually underestemated how much money we needed for gas and food, and my account would run out because everything got paid out of it. he just blew his money so it was almost worse. I want to be able to trust him. I want to be able to have enough, I care about him but the money situation makes me so mad! im trying. I cant get clothes for my girls, I have holes in mine. but I love my husband… its all tearing me apart. I don’t want to keep the accounts seperate, and keep secret money from him, I want him to be responsible am i just being stupidly hopeful?

  22. I don’t keep financial secrets but if I did maybe we would have some savings. My husband is a finantial disaster. He’s a spendaholic. When his accounts are empty he points a finger at me. I have to show him the bank statements to prove it wasn’t me and in a few months he does it again. He’s a control freak and he won’t let me manage the finances. My story is much like Lisa’s. I’m just about at the end of my rope. Before we met I had very good credit now it’s in the toilet. He just opened a secret bank account. I found out and confronted him he says “now I will know where my money is going” because he really believes I’m spending it! WOW seriously? I guess he will find out who’s spending it but at what cost to our allready bad financial situation? We owe the IRS and we’re behind on the house payment but he took several trips this year that included gambling, hunting (which is expensive) clothes shopping(his closet is FULL). He eats out at least 4 times a week. HELP! somebody please advise!

    • Hey Kim,
      My friend’s husband was the spendaholic in their relationship too. They tried using CalendarBudget which tracked every transaction they made and so her husband started improving because he could see plainly where he was spending all the money. They even postponed a trip because they could see they were going to go into the red if they went.
      I’d recommend trying CalendarBudget and set categories for each of your names so it shows plainly who’s spending money on what. It’s a real eye opener when you see how much the breakfast out each morning or whatever you do adds up over a month. The money could be used to pay cash for a nice trip instead… if all the other bills and needs are covered of course :).
      I have other ideas if you want more :)

  23. I’m in this exact boat. I’m recently married and found out my husband owed about 1,000 in debt. He claimed it was because he lost his job the year before and never got it all together. I believed him and thought this was a one time deal. We used wedding money to pay off the debt. We got married and the cycle continues I found out a few months later he owed an additional 1500 in debt I thought we paid off and new problems. It was a hug blow up. I even mentioned divorce to let him know this type of behavior will not be accepted. I can not deal with a liar. All I ever ask is that he tell me the truth. Like a dummy we paid the minimum on all our credit cards (wedding debt) until we paid down the loans. I asked him to change his paycheck to be deposited in the joint account so I can see what he is doing with his money. He did not do that until recently and now that I have paid down all of our debt. I pulled I credit report because I planned to buy a house. Well pulling his credit report revealed his personal account is now in collections because he tool out a loan and closed the account. I’m not sure if he never paid the loan when I gave him the money or if he took out a new loan but for the account to be in collections it must have been some time now. I can’t trust this man. I am considering ending my marriage after only 6 months in. I think it’s best to do this before any kids are involved. I’m devastated.

    • Hey Daja. My heart goes out to you guys. I hope you can find a way for both of you to be open and on board to improve your finances.
      Do you have a mutual goal for any SMALL goals that you would like to use the money for (on top of your big goal of buying a house)? I find this gives motivation to stick to a plan to help you achieve those goals and to stay out of debt. You want the plan to be easy for both of you to get and for both of your hearts to be in it. So a mutual goal that you’re both really into may just be the motivation to help both of you make and keep the commitment. CalendarBudget.com is a great way to keep you both on the same page when all the finance information is kept up there. It’s free and great for tracking your current spending plus great for setting up a future plan to keep you on track. It may be just the ticket to get you both started on a good path together to enjoying financial freedom.
      Good luck! I really hope you are able to make it work together.

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