Creditcards.com industry analyst Ted Rossman is collapsing the growing number of Americans who are financially unfaithful, hiding bank accounts, and secretly spending.
There are three main types of financial infidelity: spending money that your spouse / partner would not be happy with, secretly entering into debt, and keeping a hidden credit card or bank account. I venture to guess that you either did this, were a victim of it, or know someone who did. It’s so common. And in my experience, millennials are most likely to be hiding something.
Financial infidelity is a big problem because it is difficult enough achieving your financial goals if you are pulling in the same direction. It’s almost impossible when you’re waging a tug of war against each other.
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Secret issues often start out harmless enough. Perhaps a member of the couple gets a little carried away at the mall or with a late night impulse to shop online. But then the secret takes on a life of its own. He or she hides the merchandise, hides the dollar amount, and becomes defensive. “Oh that old thing? I’ve had it for months. “
Contrary to the stereotype, I’ve found that men are the biggest secret shopaholics. Many men view money as a form of power, control, and influence. This mindset can destroy a relationship.
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Money is regularly cited as one of the top reasons for divorce. This topic hits millennials particularly hard because they’re more likely to have divorced parents than Gen Xers or Boomers. Many millennials remember what happened when mom and dad broke up, and that’s why they have a “freedom fund” on their side just in case their own relationship doesn’t work out.
The concept from you, me and us can work – but only if both parties have agreed the parameters in advance. I see more and more couples benefiting from this strategy. They each contribute to an account for shared household expenses while maintaining their own pots of money to spend without asking.
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The key here is communication. You cannot afford to have one partner suck up money and spend it willy-nilly without the other’s knowledge. However, if you and your spouse feel that a certain percentage of each paycheck can suit your respective needs, it can be very healthy. Some people get annoyed that they are subsidizing the other person’s designer clothes, electronics, or evenings with friends.
We work hard for this money, don’t we? And there are more households on two incomes than ever before. That’s another reason I believe millennials are more likely than their elders to commit financial infidelity. Plus, people get married later, which leaves more time to establish habits that are hard to break after you’ve tied the knot. Communication is key, but it is still possible to effectively manage your money both together and separately.
Ted Rossman is an industry analyst at CreditCards.com.
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