As Americans prepare to express their love to their partner on Valentine’s Day, there is a little secret many are keeping from their loved ones: private bank accounts and credit cards.
About one in 20 Americans currently in a serious relationship admit they are hiding a financial account from their partner, a survey by CreditCards.com showed. That would imply about 12 million Americans are committing what some call “financial infidelity.”
“It falls under the umbrella of, ‘I love you, but don’t tell me what to do,’” said Corey Allen, a Dallas-based marriage and family therapist. “When you hit threshold areas of identity, that’s a natural pressure that happens in a relationship on every topic.”
As arguments over finances are a leading cause of divorce, family therapists recommend that couples be open about their personal accounts and spending habits.
However, there may be times when a hidden account is acceptable or even recommended, such as saving for an engagement ring or when a partner is trying to get out of an abusive relationship, said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.
Older Americans have a greater tendency to keep a private account and make large purchases with it, the study showed. Roughly one in nine adults age 63 to 71 have an account their partner doesn’t know about, compared to about one in 33 among millennials. Nearly 40 percent of baby boomers said they made secret purchases of $500 or more compared with just 20 percent of millennials.
This may have as much to do with greater reluctance among millennials to use or have multiple credit cards as any desire among older Americans to express their independence with hidden purchases.
“Millennials have proven to be pretty credit averse because they are bearing the scars of the Great Recession,” Schulz said. “The last thing they want is the possibility of more debt.”
Schulz said he was surprised to see that more than one in four respondents admitted to spending $500 or more without consulting their partner.
“That is an awful lot of money for most Americans,” many of whom live from paycheck to paycheck, Schulz said.
CreditCards.com is an online credit card marketplace and publisher of original content about credit cards. The survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,003 adults. The margin of error ranges between 3.7 percent and 4.3 percent.
Contact Todd Prince at 702-383-0386 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.