Consumer News

Financial Infidelity: Are You A Victim?

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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Award-winning journalist Paula Ebben co-anchors WBZ-TV News at 6PM...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Do you know everything your spouse spends money on?

A new survey reveals that it’s quite common for couples to keep financial secrets from one another.

Erin Rich has a weakness for shoes and purses.

“There are times when I just see something, and I just have to have it,” she says.

But she often keeps these purchases a secret from her husband and sneaks them into their house.

“Laptop bags are perfect to hold a pair of jeans, or maybe a shirt or two,” she admitted.

In 80 percent of married couples, one of the partners admits to spending money without telling their spouse.

One in five has a secret credit card or bank account.

Many of these secret spenders are indulging once in a while in something like new clothes.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

While splurging sporadically might not threaten a marriage, chronic financial cheating can be devastating.

Experts say couples should spend time each month taking about money so they get on the same financial page.

The discussions should include income, all expenses, and any extra costs such as a vacation.

Financial advisor Meir Statman says, “What is necessary is really to find some kind of a balance, such that each of us will feel free and yet we’re going to keep our responsibilities to the family.”

Another recommendation is to combine some portion of your finances. Set up automatic payments from a joint account to guarantee shared financial obligations, like a mortgage, are met.

Finally, if you become suspicious, ask about your concern calmly. Don’t make accusations.

“It might be something that your wife bought for your mother, so you’ll have to thank her, rather than get mad at her,” said Statman.

It’s also a good idea to agree to a sum of money that either partner can spend without consulting the other.

This allows for the occasional splurge, without the guilt.

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