April 13, 2024

Financially unfaithful? Lovers keep money secrets | News, Sports, Jobs

A new Bankrate survey reveals that 42% of adults in the United States who are married or living with a partner have kept a financial secret from their better half. These could include keeping a hidden credit card or account or simply spending more than their partner would like.

Many Americans have been tempted to cheat on their partner or keep secrets from them, often to a ruinous effect on their relationship. Yet, the consequences regarding the financial secrets people keep from a partner are less clear.

How bad are these practices, really? Well, it seems the jury is still out, as society has yet to form a clear consensus on so-called, “financial infidelity.”

While few would deny greater transparency on money builds healthier partnerships, most people do not consider keeping one’s portfolio so tightly bound to be as destructive to a relationship as cheating. Nonetheless, 28% of adults surveyed believe keeping financial secrets from a partner is indeed as bad as physical cheating, while 7% actually say it’s worse.

“It’s not always easy to talk about money, but it’s so important,” says Ted Rossman, Bankrate’s Senior Industry Analyst. “Financial secrets can take on a life of their own and undermine the relationship. If you have a secret spending habit or undisclosed debt or a credit card or bank account that your spouse doesn’t know about, I think it’s best to come clean right away.”

The Young and the ­Wealth-Stressed

The younger you are, the more likely it is you have been so-called “financially unfaithful” on at least one account.

Generation Z leads the generational pack at 67%, while millennials follow at 57%. Generation X (34%) and baby boomers (33%) are least likely to keep financial secrets from their partners.

The difference between the genders was just a couple of percentage points. An opening was evident along the political spectrum, with more Democrats (52%) keeping financial secrets than Republicans (40%), but this difference paled in comparison to the generation gap.

These findings dovetail with other recent findings. There’s a tectonic shift in how younger people process money and relationships.

According to the results of a December survey by Northwestern Mutual’s 2023 Planning & Progress Study, younger generations are placing greater emphasis on money when screening potential mates.

The survey found nearly half (49%) of Gen-Z and (40%) of millennials view financial compatibility as more important than physical compatibility. Only 30% of boomers feel the same way.

“These findings put a new twist on what it means to have good chemistry between partners,” Christian Mitchell, Chief Customer Officer at Northwestern Mutual, comments. “It is clear that all Americans, especially Gen-Z, see financial compatibility as one of the core ingredients of a solid match.”

Yet, with greater secrecy among the young, achieving clear compatibility on money issues may be harder.

What’s the Why?

There are many potential motivations for keeping some finances hidden. The most significant reason given among those who kept such secrets was for privacy and control, at 37% in total. Meanwhile, 28% were too embarrassed about their finances to discuss them. Another 33% said they never felt the need to share or the topic never came up.

Yet a lack of discussion about money is not ideal, according to experts.

“If they (your partner) won’t talk about money at all with you, that’s a huge red flag,” famed influencer Ramit Sethi, host of “How to Get Rich,” told CNBC last year.

Sethi, whose show focuses on couples’ finances, says most lovers only talk about money when it becomes a problem, but the most successful partners habitually discuss it.

Financial secrecy and incompatibility in a relationship may have an outsized impact on women, who remain more monetarily vulnerable than their male counterparts. According to federal government data, in 2022, women remained less likely than men to be able to pay all their bills on time and in full and less likely to be able to cover three months of expenses with emergency savings. They were also more likely to have expanded their credit card debt.

Thankfully for women feeling financially hamstrung by their partner, there are now more ways to make money fast as a woman today than ever. Some of the best online remote options do not require formal training or qualifications. These include starting a YouTube channel, becoming a virtual assistant, wedding planner, or online tutor, or setting up a dropshipping store. It’s even possible to deal in vintage collectors’ items, such as by selling Beanie Babies for cash and turning it into a profitable venture.

Other options exist to bump up income for all partners under financial stress. One avenue for additional income can be taking up odd jobs near home, be it food delivery, home maintenance tasks, or dog walking, just to name a few.

Navigating life with a secretive spouse can be an emotional and financial rollercoaster. Young people, in particular, who are facing ever-growing economic pressures, seem to be turning inward away from disclosing details with their significant other. Yet, American lovers are not alone in their struggle. With so many online resources about personal finance, new ways to earn extra income, and alternative investment options, alternative pathways exist toward financial security availability.

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This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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