Are you hiding secret spending from your spouse?

Feb 12, 2024, 5:02 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2024, 5:42 pm

secret spending...

FILE - Credit cards as seen July 1, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Many Americans say their household expenses are outpacing earnings in 2023 according to a new poll from AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Are you keeping spending a secret from your wife or husband or partner? A national expert on personal finance offers advice for couples entangled in financial infidelity.

According to Bankrate, 42% of U.S. adults who are married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner have kept or are keeping at least one financial secret from their spouse or partner.

These financial secrets include spending more than their spouse or partner would be OK with (30%), holding any amount of secret debt (23%), having a secret savings account (19%), a secret credit card (18%) or a secret checking account (17%).

Dave and Debbie discuss the reasons behind the subterfuge and ways to mend financial infidelity with Ted Rossman, Bankrate senior industry analyst.


How to handle secret spending

The longer the financial secret is hidden, the more it begins to take on a life of its own, undermining the
relationship, Rossman said. He urged secret spenders to be upfront — sooner than later.

“I really do think that the best approach is to just be honest and communicative even if there’s something in your past that you’re not really proud of — like you spent too much or you took on too much debt or whatever it is.

“What’s harmful though is when the secret festers for a long time and then the other person’s wondering: ‘Well, what else am I missing?’ ” he said.

Plan a monthly ‘money date’

It’s also important to plan a monthly “money date” with your spouse to talk about goals, such as buying a house, getting out of debt or saving for retirement, he said.

“I feel like when you’re aligned on the goals, then you’re pulling in the same direction,” said Rossman. 

A way to ward off fighting over finances, he said, is to agree beforehand how much each partner has to spend on themselves each paycheck.

“Let’s say you and your spouse agree that you each have a hundred bucks a paycheck that’s yours and yours alone. When you do it that way, then you have more independence over spending on certain hobbies and nights out with friends and things like that,” Rossman said.

Younger generations are more likely to commit financial infidelity than older generations, according to the Bankrate survey:

  •  About two-thirds (67%) of Gen Zers (ages 18-27) and more than half (57%) of millennials (ages 28-43) who are married or living with a partner have kept at least one financial secret from their significant other, compared to 34% of Gen Xers (ages 44-59) and 33% of baby boomers (ages 60-78).

Survey: Younger generations more likely to keep financial secrets from partners

Related: Improve your financial wellness with these tips

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Are you hiding secret spending from your spouse?