Do You Share All Your Financial Transactions with Your Partner?

by Miranda Marquit · 11 comments

We talk about avoiding financial infidelity all the time, but how well do we actually share financial information?

The indication is that most of us aren’t very good at it.

According to a survey reported by CNBC, close to 40% of baby boomers have spent more than $500 without letting their significant others know. On top of that, the survey estimates that there might be as many as 12 million Americans hiding accounts and credit cards from their partners. That’s right. 12 million people!

It’s Fairly Easy to Hide Money from a Significant Other

You might think that it would be hard to hide money from a significant other, but the reality is that hiding an account is actually pretty easy to do.

After all, your credit is separate from your partner’s even if you are married, and it’s not that hard for a partner to open a credit card without you knowing. It’s even possible for him or her to open a bank account in his or her own name without you ever knowing about it.

If you both have your own money, and you have separate individual accounts, it’s obviously pretty easy to keep money hidden if you want. But even if you share accounts, if you don’t talk about money often, or one of you doesn’t check the accounts very often, it’s possible to keep some money hidden without too much trouble.

Try to be on the Same Page

Even though it’s relatively easy to hide money from a significant other, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. If you aren’t honest with each other about money, there is a very real chance that you could wind up in financial trouble.

Making big purchases without being the same page, especially if you have combined finances, can quickly lead to overdrawing your account and cause other problems.

Even if you have separate finances it’s a good idea to discuss the situation and work to be on the same page. After all, you might want to get a joint account at some point. You may even want to get a car loan or a mortgage together. If one of you has bad credit, but the other doesn’t know, that can derail your plans.

It’s a good idea to talk about your money situation, and work toward a set of shared goals.

You Don’t Have to Share Everything

You don’t have to share everything to be successful with money as a couple, though.

Separate finances can work just fine too. However, you still need to be honest with each other about the way you handle money. It’s also important to let your partner know how much debt you have so that you can plan some of your joint expenses together.

The key to making things work in any relationship is communication. You need to make sure you understand each other when it comes to money. And if you have joint finances, it’s especially important not to keep things from each other.

No, you don’t have to tell your partner everything if you keep your finances separate, or semi-separate. You should, however, try to manage money in a way that won’t put your joint financial situation at risk down the road.

David’s Note: I know this sounds obvious, but too many of us find it hard to commit to honestly and open communication. How well does your significant other know about your financial situation? That’s the test of how well you’ve done to keep your partner in the loop.

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  • Mike @ says:

    Great topic. I personally share everything with my spouse, and to be honest – I don’t understand those with separate accounts. I know a few people who do it, and I just don’t get it. To me, there’s no real gain to this approach, but of course, that’s just my opinion.

    That being said, I find the amount of people who hide accounts or credit cards from their spouse absolutely staggering!

    • David @ says:

      Separate or not, being open about everything is definitely the way to go.

      Hiding can work OK when times are good, but it could cause a huge problem if the economics don’t work out. It’s just not worth the risk!

  • Arminius Aurelius says:

    The only other acceptable policy would be if each has a weekly “allowance” of $ XX .00 to buy small needs or wants , otherwise it is imperative to be open and stay on budget.

    • Anders says:

      That’s an idea we sort of use in our newest budget. We have our own “spending-money” budgeted for each of us. It’s like an allowance that we can do what we want with… but we still ask the other if it’s ok anyway. 🙂

      • David @ says:

        Budgeting to have fun is not only freeing but it’s also good for those (*cough* me *cough*) who find it hard to shell out cash to spend.

        Good for you guys to still ask each other though. That’s so sweet.

  • Kyle Burbank says:

    My wife and I have separate accounts just for variety sake, but we still discuss the vast majority of our purchases. I’d say if I were going to spend more than $40-$50 on something, I’d tell her about it. This is even true of gifts — it’s really our money we’re spending and maybe one of us doesn’t want a $300 gift we don’t need. Great piece, Miranda.

    • David @ says:

      It sounds like you two are both frugal in nature since you mentioned that your wife may not want an expensive gift from you. This is so awesome because you can really propel your family towards financial independence given some more motivation.

      Cheers in advance to your successful journey ahead!

  • Arminius Aurelius says:

    To me that is totally unacceptable . Marriage is a partnership where you set goals in life and work toward a goal of eventual financial freedom . If each spends behind the others back in order to satisfy your own greedy lust, how can you trust your partner ? Non stop spending leads to poverty .

    • David @ says:

      Nonstop spending definitely leads to poverty, but I think many couples, since they both earn income now, just keep everything separate and spend as if they are single in the modern day. It doesn’t help when each side doesn’t care enough to ask the other what he/she is spending on either.

      I mean, if you don’t make a serious effort to combine finances, then you will naturally have separate finances right?

  • Anders says:

    Good article!

    When talking to other married couples about money, I still get surprised sometimes to hear that they keep individual finances within the marriage. I mean, it’s rather common, and it’s probably just me who find it difficult to wrap my head around.

    I think what’s hard for me to understand is how you can have your own economical goals (or lack thereof ) within a marriage. I guess it also comes down to me having a sort of fear about letting the money situation become a problem in the relationship too. Which, unfortunately, isn’t so uncommon and something that shouldn’t be an issue becomes a huge problem. And if you don’t know what the other person spends money on, I think it’s even easier that the situation blows up.

    So I agree fully with the part about communication being the key in this. No matter how you handle the couple-finances it’s so important to talk about it. Even if you might not agree with the other person fully.

    Again, good points in this article. Have a great day!

    • David @ says:

      Talking about money is the first step to coming up with a plan to increase wealth efficiently. Too many couples keep everything separate and then they waste so many opportunities to scale their efforts. The good news is that the second best time to start is now, but right from the get go is definitely the best time to start open communication about finances.

      Even if you have separate accounts, you and your significant other’s finances should be combined in the sense everybody knows what’s happening with the overall picture.

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