Why couples are hiding debt, purchases; what to do about it

Have you ever lied to your partner about spending money? A Bankrate survey found 42% of couples have kept financial secrets from their partner and that number has been growing.

Financial issues are one of the top problems that lead to divorce, yet a surprisingly high number of couples are committing what's called financial infidelity.

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There are viral videos on social media of people hiding purchases from their partners.

"It's like you're hiding all the Amazon boxes because you don't want your significant other to see how much you spent on Amazon," said Milka Medina.

A new Bankrate survey found 42% of couples say they've kept a financial secret from their partner.

"Secret spending is the most common. We're also talking about things like secret debt, secret bank accounts, secret credit cards," said Ted Rossman with Bankrate.

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And it's getting worse, the survey reveals, particularly among younger adults, Gen Z and Millennials, who are also carrying the most debt.

"Maybe you find out when you're applying for a mortgage, or you know you're applying for a car loan," said Rossman.

One solution, suggests Rossman, "I really like yours, mine, and ours approach because the biggest reason people tell us they keep financial secrets is they want more privacy and independence within the relationship."

Some couples may even need some counseling.  

Experts suggest writing a joint financial statement of your income and expenses, and agreeing to a plan to pay off debts.

"You either have to make more money, and then we fortunately live in this new gig economy where about everybody has the ability to side hustle. But then the second thing you can do is you can cut expenses," said Brian Preston, host of The Money Guy Show and author of Millionaire Mission:  A 9-Step System to Level-Up Your Finances and Build Wealth.


Preston suggests setting long-term goals for saving and paying off debt with rewards for reaching milestones.

"Then celebrate those victories because that's the part, I think we get so busy in life, you don't want to lose focus on the relationship that made it all possible, and especially around Valentine's Day.  That's important," said Preston.

Preston provides free resources to help couples reach their financial goals on his site.