According to MONEY's poll, of the more than 1,000 married couples surveyed, 70% argue about money. What exactly are those couples fighting about? 55% argue about spending; 37% about saving; 21% about deceit; 22% exclusion from decisions. Those statistics may or may not surprise you; after all, the merging of a couple's spending habits can lead to tension in any relationship, especially when the two parties have different financial philosophies. Add financial infidelity to the mix and the consequences could be disastrous.
Have you ever done the following and either kept it a secret or outright lied about it to your partner?
- Opened a credit card
- Opened a line of credit, second mortgage, or other debt
- Opened a checking account or other asset
- Set up a payroll deduction direct deposited to a hidden account
- Spent more than the budgeted amount
- Purchases not on the budget or previously agreed upon
- Borrowed money from a family member or friend
- Stashed cash
- Hid your credit score
- Hid receipts or statements
If you answered "yes" to any of the above, it's time to 'fess up and have "the talk" with your spouse. Coming clean to your partner won't be easy, but the two of you have to be on the same page about your finances.
One way to increase transparency is sharing all accounts and passwords so the two of you have the ability to view the other's spending. Or, maybe, you agree to have three accounts: one for you, one for your partner, and a joint account for the both of you. Of course, with the latter option, clear communication and an agreed upon budget are essential. For example, will both your paychecks be direct deposited to the joint account? How much will be transferred to your personal account? What happens to excess cash after bills are paid? How much will you each contribute to savings and retirement accounts?
Once you and your partner are on the same page, schedule a recurring money date. Use your money date to talk about the current financial situation and plan to spend at least 30 minutes doing so.
Communication is key! So please don't delay the money talk. Your marriage could very well depend on it.