44% of adults admit to keeping money secrets from a partner

Personal Finance

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Valentine’s Day is perfect time to tell your partner how much they mean to you — and come clean about a secret you may be keeping.

Chances are, that has something to do with money. Nearly half, or 44%, of those in a relationship admit to committing financial infidelity against partner, according to a new survey by CreditCards.com.

Most often, they are spending more than they feel their significant other would be comfortable with, the report found. Others have a secret account or credit card, and about 1 in 10 have some sort of hidden debt.

To justify those money secrets, 36% cited the need for privacy or the desire to control their own finances, 27% said the issue never came up and 26% said they are embarrassed about the way they handle money. In January, CreditCards.com polled more than 2,500 adults who are currently married, in a civil partnership or living with their partner.

“A lot of people benefit from having separate accounts; that definitely works if you agree on the parameters,” said Ted Rossman, an industry analyst for CreditCards.com. Troubles arise “if you are doing it in secret,” he said.

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Despite how common financial infidelity is,  27% agree that it is worse than physical infidelity, CreditCards.com found.

In 3 out of every 4 couples, one spouse said financial deception has adversely affected their relationship with their partner, according to a separate survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education.

For young couples, money woes can take an especially heavy toll. In fact, one-third of millennials would consider breaking up with their significant other because of a financial secret, such as hidden debt or a bad credit score, according to a Love and Money survey by TD Bank.

Yet financial infidelity doesn’t have to doom a relationship, experts say.

“The No. 1 rule is knowing what’s important to you,” said Kate Ryan, a director of financial planning at TIAA in New York. That may include, for example, what you want in your future, where you want to live and when you want to retire, she said.

“You don’t necessarily have to agree, but knowing where you stand is the first step, because then you can decide if things will work.”

And although these can seem like hard conversations to have, they can be very constructive, Ryan added.

“It’s actually a way for couples to think about what’s possible and what they can accomplish together.”

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