January 18, 2011 22 Comments
An online poll commissioned by ForbesWoman and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) and conducted by Harris Interactive, surveyed 2,019 U.S. adults from December 17 to 21 and found that 31% of those who combined finances had admitted to lying to spouses about money.
This is of course disturbing to me in a number of ways. Why were they being dishonest? What is it they were trying to hide? Some of the comments on The Consumerist alluded to the tie between sexual infidelity and financial infidelity.
But honestly, I think the more strict the relationship is on money rules, the easier it is to being financially unfaithful.
Honestly, I don’t think I could do it. I don’t think I could pool everything together. I think such blanket honesty about every little purchase would drive me nuts. “Why did you spend $45 at Best Buy last week?” “Excuse me, we’re trying to save for a trip to Tahiti, why did you spend $5 at Starbucks yesterday?”
I’d rather know they have their own set of money and they can do with it what they want and that’s it. They can save if they want, they can spend it on video games if they want, they can splurge on a nice gift for me if they want. 😉
Some would say that it takes greater trust to combine all the finances as one. Where there is one checking account with two names. While I understand the logic of this I also think there is a lot of trust that is placed in someone by knowing they’ll do the right thing with their own money – no questions asked.
BF and I hadn’t discussed details of how we would combine finances, but we both believe in a “yours, mine and ours” approach. Maybe part of that is we’re both “older” (I’m 30 and he’s 31) so we’ve both been in charge of our own finances for a long time. We’re used to being the only one’s who have say over where our free spending money goes and we’d like to maintain that freedom. (However, he has said that he is fully willing to give over all bill paying, saving and retirement duties to me if I wanted… how kind…)
I can definitely see if I was in a relationship where I had a 100% combined finances opening a little side account that my spouse didn’t know about – especially if marital times were tough. It is completely dishonest to the relationship, but in the same way one might sneak phone interviews in our cars during our lunch break – when you’re not in a stable place relationship-wise – financial infidelity is sure to follow.
Is there a right way to “combine” finances?
I doubt it. I’m sure the right way is whatever way the two people feel comfortable with. I’m less comfortable with complete combination (I’d prefer an 80-90% combined and then we get $100-200/month to do with what we please). Others would feel that part of marriage is a 100% combination of money. Others might live with a roommate type partnership where each just split everything 50% and keep their accounts 100% separate. I don’t think any way is better than one over the other – but somehow I get the feeling that the more combined the finances are the more likely it is that financial infidelity will occur. I have no hard facts to back that up – just a gut feeling. The more access the person has to every little purchase you make – the more likely it is to lead to an argument – and thus I can see that leading to hiding purchases to avoid fights.
The Forbes article includes those who have combined finances, but of course doesn’t specify HOW the finances were combined.
What do you think? How related do you think financial infidelity and how finances are combined are? Or do you think they are?