When you go into any relationship, and particularly when you take it to the next level with an engagement, and then marriage, trust and respect must be at the foundation of it. Trust is the hook that any good relationship hangs its’ hat on. One thing that can chip away at the foundation of a good couple’s relationship would be the keeping of financial secrets.
Financial secrets include things as big as hidden bank accounts, credit cards or large purchases. It may also be as small as getting a couple extra items at the market or store that weren’t discussed or on the list. That may sound trivial, but according to an article from the Denver, CO based National Endowment for Financial Education (Financial Infidelity Poses Challenge for Couples; Feb 2014), A Harris poll they commissioned found that one in three of the Americans polled has kept a ‘money secret’ from their significant other, or committed in the words of the article, “Financial Infidelity!” A link to the raw data can be found here, but the main point is that this happens more than you would believe, and many of us may have done it before realizing the damage this causes.
If you think back, you can probably remember a few instances where this occurred and you thought nothing of it. The dress or the Mary Kay order or the shoes or the video game you wanted, you know the one… Separately, it may seem to be a non-issue. When combined with a money crisis, or a compiling of the bills to see where the money went last month, this could be a recipe for confrontations and arguments. Losing emotional trust over money secrets can sometimes be as devastating as physical cheating and just as hard to recover from.
So how do we fix this? Understand that there are no easy fixes, but here are recommendations that can get you through this type of financial storm.
Come Clean! This should be done once a relationship becomes serious enough to consider spending the rest of your lives together. Starting with a clean slate about what you owe as well as own makes it easier to not tell sweet little lies about it later on.
You inherit a spouse’s debt like you do their family. If there is debt in your background, it has to be discussed before taking each other’s name. Preferably, a plan should be mapped out to pay down what is owed on both sides.
There is no more your bills and mine, but ours. Set up at least one joint checking and joint savings account to handle the household bills. Keep separate accounts if need be for mad money, but make your mate aware of what you have. It is easier to handle expenses with two incomes rather than one, so be willing to work together. Remember that a house divided cannot stand.
DO NOT start accusatory arguments or point fingers at each other once the money secret is out in the open. The drama of what the significant other will think of your impulse purchase is what causes many money secrets in the first place. Communication is key and there has to be open dialogue as to how to resolve the issue instead of yelling about who’s fault this matter is.
Working through the aftermath of money secrets takes maturity, patience and forgiveness. Obviously, the type of secret and degree of the indiscretion makes a difference, but just know that if the relationship is worth saving, so are the finances. Work together and make it happen.
Founded in 2015, DNA Financial Services LLC has pledged to Educate, Empower and Equip the financial DNA of its’ clients now and for generations to come. The company offers a number of financial services designed to bridge the gap in wealth building education while aiding and advocating for the financial literacy of people from all walks of life.
DEBT IS NOT IN YOUR DNA! TM