According to a recent survey, as many as 6 million American consumers currently have a financial account which they keep secret from their spouses, partners or significant others!
This level of so called ‘financial infidelity’ (i.e. concealing credit cards, savings or checking accounts) is a major concern in any relationship.
Some experts put financial infidelity on a par with a secret roantic affair. Some would even go so far as to say that cheating financially is much more damaging as it can not only affect trust but also the unwitting partners nameand credit score. Tracy East of CESI Debt Solutions said,
If I cant trust you to tell you about my finances, then what can I trust youu with? It’s really the same as why you hide anything from your spouse or significant other. Either you’re afraid of what their response would be or a lot of people feel embarrassed or ashamed about their spending. Some people feel, ‘It’s my money and it’s my business and I want to keep things very separate.
The poll was carried out last month by GfK Roper and asked over 1000 consumers who were living with a partner if they were completely honest about their finances. The majority were truthful with loved ones about their accounts.
Almost 92 percent of them said that they had never had a credit card, savings account or any other financial account that they had not told their partner about. However around 7 percent admitted that they had kept an account of this type under wraps. Based on 2010 United States Census figures, this works out at almost 6 million adults.
Credit cardstopped the poll as the most common type of account to be hidden with 67 percent (about two thirds) of respondants saying they had hidden a credit card account from their spouse or partner. Savings accounts came in at 45 percent and checking accounts came in third at 38 percent. The poll indicates that women are more likely than men to keep a secret savings account.
In terms of how much is alright to spend without involving a spouse or partner, the poll highlighted some interesting statistics. Cohabiting or married couples said that their significant other should be free to spend up to an average of $226 without letting them know beforehand.
Around 28 percent said it was fine to spend over $500 while 20 percent said just $100 was acceptable. When asked how much they had actually spent themselves without a partner’s knowledge or approval, the average was $171. Around 18 percent had secretly splurged over $500.
Financial and Relationship experts alike agree that there is no set amount that all couples need to follow, but couples should negotiate spending in advance. Leslie Linfield, director of the Institute for Financial Literacy in Portland says that $226 is not an unreasonable figure, but she adds,
There is no right or wrong answer because everybody’s budget is so personal. Don’t just toss out a number. That’s a cop out. If they just randomly pick a number and the husband goes out and he spends that, is the wife going to be resentful? It is a good idea to kind of pre-negotiate these thing at the beginning of a relationship.
A CESI spokeswoman, Ms East, agrees. When asked about setting a spending limit she said,
That needs to be determined on a couple-by-couple basis, For somebody who has a very, very tight budget, for their spouse to go out and drop $100 on something, that could be devastating. It could mean we don’t have enough to pay a bill this month.