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Study: Do You Hide Spending From Your Spouse or Partner

This survey looks at how Americans in romantic relationships hide or share their spending habits and personal debt with their spouses or partners.

Disparities in financial habits and outlook are sources of tension for couples. In fact, money is one of the most common reasons for divorce in America.

According to a MyBankTracker survey, nearly two-thirds (60.4%) of respondents -- in a romantic relationship -- said that they’ve hidden purchases to a spouse or partner. But, when it comes to disclosure of major personal debt, less than one in 10 (6.9%) of respondents reported still hiding their debt from their partners.

Here are the notable highlights from the survey:

Key Highlights

The survey asked two questions on financial disclosure of people in romantic relationships:

1. How much have you secretly spent without telling your spouse or partner?

  • 33.4% of women never secretly spent without telling their partner compared with 25.4% of men
  • The most honest age group is the 65+ age group with 44.3% responding that they never spent without telling their partner. The 25-34 age group (Millennials) were least honest about money, with only 21.1% responding that they never spent without telling their partner. Perhaps surprisingly, the 18-24 age group were the second most honest about money, with 38.7% responding they never spent without telling their partner, behind on the 65+ age group in our survey
  • Geographically, the West coast respondents were the most honest about money, with 33.8% responding that they never spent without telling their partner. The West coast was followed by the South at 30%, the Midwest at 27.3%, while the Northeast respondents were the least honest to their partner about spending money with only 25.3% responding that they never spent without telling their partner

2. When did you reveal your debt to your spouse or partner?

  • 59.7% of respondents didn’t have any significant debt to hide while 29.1% of respondents disclosed their debt while dating
  • 62.2% of men didn’t have any major debt to hide, while 57.4% of women responded that they did
  • 6.6% of women are still hiding their debt to their partner, compared with 7.3% of men

Ways to Increase Financial Transparency in a Relationship

When it comes to personal and joint finances, being on the same page will likely improve the chances of a long-term relationship.

Speak up early

If you’re seriously invested in a relationship, bring up the topic of financial habits and personal debt early in the relationship.

You’ll discover whether you can work together toward similar financial goals or find that the differences in financial outlook reveal incompatibility.

Use a joint bank account

Couples may consider a joint bank account to help keep each other in check on their spending. Furthermore, joint accounts can be useful for couples to build savings toward specific goals (such as vacation).

It’s a great way -- even before marriage -- for couples to merge some of their finances and begin “practicing” how to manage their money together.

Share access to money management tools

There are many personal financial management tools available that lets you see your finances in one shot by pulling information from all financial accounts.

Shared access to these tools may reveal key details such as your spending habits, total debt, credit score history, and investing mindset. With this information, couples can identify areas for discussion and/or improvement.

Methodology

The study was conducted through Google Survey on behalf of MyBankTracker from June 8, 2020 to June 11, 2020 with respondents in the United States of ages 18 and up:

  • Question 1 had 414 respondents with a margin of error of +/- 2.8%
  • Question 2 had 394 respondents with a margin of error of +/- 2.8%