Everyone has secrets. However, when you join your life and your finances with someone, there has to be absolute trust. That means that you will have to share certain things about your financial history that you may not be particularly proud of. But if you want to build a secure life together, then you have to be transparent. You don’t want a marriage built on lies. So if you are harboring any of these financial secrets, you should share them with your spouse.
7 Financial Secrets You Should Share with Your Spouse
A 2018 study in the Journal of Financial Therapy revealed that 27% of Americans kept financial secrets from their partner. However, counselors will tell you that this kind of secrecy and financial infidelity can have catastrophic consequences. Although it is a difficult topic to broach, sharing your burden can reduce your financial stress and help you grow closer as a couple. So if you are having doubts about telling your partner, here are 7 financial secrets you should share with your spouse to build an honest relationship.
1. The Full Extent of your Debt
One thing that I have seen personally seen blow-up relationships is secret debt. Usually, this happens when one partner isn’t aware of the extent of the other’s overspending and credit card debt.
If you have high balances on multiple credit cards, it can push your finances and relationship to the breaking point. But, hiding the truth won’t improve the situation. And, it will impact your spouse too if you have to declare bankruptcy. While it may be a difficult conversation, it will allow you to work together toward a solution.
2. Salary Increases and Financial Windfalls
Although it may not seem as bad as hiding your debt, hiding your financial gains is also a sign of financial infidelity. If you don’t want to share the good news with your spouse, then you need to take a careful look at your feelings and relationship. Are you worried they won’t be happy for you or will resent your success? Are you afraid it will give them a free license to go on a spending spree? Or, is there something else that makes you want to keep them in the dark? Whatever the case, if you can’t celebrate your wins, it’s a red flag in any relationship.
3. Secret Bank Accounts
Unless you are in a situation involving financial abuse, you should never keep secret bank accounts. I’m not saying that you have to join your accounts. But, you should be able to have an honest conversation about your assets. My husband and I still have separate accounts. However, we are aware of them and how much money is in each one.
When your spouse finds out that you are hiding money, it will inevitably lead to hard questions and accusations. But, you can avoid this situation altogether by being honest and upfront about your financial situation.
4. Taking a Second Mortgage
This secret is problematic for several reasons. Not only does it put your home at risk, but it also adds an additional monthly payment to your bills. And, it usually comes with higher interest rates. Taking a second mortgage without telling your spouse will have long-term repercussions on your financial plans. It requires more than a slight budget adjustment and affects both partners in the relationship.
5. Large Purchases
It’s also wise to discuss large purchases and loans with your spouse before signing anything. Having these conversations will ensure that you are on the same page. It’s a big decision that often requires financing or high-interest loans that will take years or decades to pay off. Those who continue to make large purchases without consulting their partner will find that it affects their budget and their partner’s ability to trust them.
6. Late Payments
Accidents happen, and sometimes bills don’t get paid on time. However, this isn’t a secret you can hide forever. You will continue to get late notices, penalties, or disruption of service the longer you delay.
But, you can avoid further debt by telling your partner right away. While most people won’t be thrilled, it’s better to know sooner rather than later. Otherwise, any late payments on bills with your spouse’s name will affect their credit score and financial future.
7. Your Spending Habits
While this behavior is at the root of several financial secrets, it deserves a special designation as one of the most important financial secrets you should share with your spouse. Lying about your spending habits can have devastating effects on your financial planning.
Some of the worst examples of financial infidelity that I have witnessed include:
- hiding purchases and receipts
- lying about how much you spend on things
- spending money on family and friends without discussing it
- accruing more debt without them knowing
- wiping out their savings without their partner’s knowledge
Unfortunately, you will never have an accurate gauge of your finances if you are not truthful about your spending. Plus, most people find it impossible to trust someone who constantly lies and hides things. Not only does it undermine your relationship, but you are also putting your financial future at risk.
A Relationship Built on Trust
My mom taught me an important lesson that applies to nearly every aspect of my life, including my finances: if you have to hide it or lie about it, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
However, we are all human, and make mistakes. Everyone struggles, but hiding the problem only makes it worse. Instead, sharing your burden can reduce your financial stress and improve the bond you have with your partner. Although it can be terrifying to face your finances and confide your worst financial errors, it is an important step in creating a relationship built on trust. If you are not willing to take the first step and disclose these types of secrets, it will have severe impacts on your relationship and long-term financial plans.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.