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Ask the Readers: Hiding Money from Your Spouse

Ask the Readers: Hiding Money from Your Spouse post image talking money as a couple

From time to time, I get feedback from Couple Money readers. It’s something that I enjoy and try to respond to. This weekend I received an email from M about a situation that he noticed at work. I thought it was an excellent question and I wanted to see what you thought about it.

Hiding Vacation Bonus Money at Work

Here’s what M shared with me:

At work today, I thought of your blog  when we received our vacation paychecks which is what my company pays us for any unused vacation time.  Normally, the policy is that you use the vacation time or lose it, but this year, management wanted to reach a certain number of earned work hours and decided to pay workers for unused vacation time, thus providing an incentive working towards the earned hours goal versus taking vacation time.

So when we received our vacation checks today, some of my co-workers were like kids in the candy shop because this is money that their wives won’t know about.  Wives don’t exactly know how much vacation time their husband has used or accrued during the year.  So when the vacation paycheck were received in hand, some of my co-workers were thinking about electronic gadgets to buy or planning to go out and have a good time.

Since your blog deals with building financial freedom together,  Do you think this is alright when my co-workers splurges a bit with money that their significant other won’t know about?  Or do you think my co-workers should tell their significant others about their vacation checks and put it towards their financial goals?

My Two Cents on Money and Couples

Here’s my take on the situation based on what was shared –

For us we share bonuses and gifts – we view our marriage as a team and when one wins, so does the other.  I’m not a fan of hiding things from your spouse. It could lead to big problems later over something that wasn’t that big to begin with.  I’m curious as to why his coworkers are thinking of hiding the money. Do you think that it’s their money? Do they feel that their spouses are going to frivolously spend it all? I think looking at their motivations would be real helpful.

Husbands/wives should have a little fun money, especially if they’ve worked hard at their job. I just don’t think it should be an either/or scenario. Talk it over with your spouse and come up with a plan to do both – meet a financial goal and have fun with the rest.

Thoughts on Sharing or Hiding Small Windfalls

I’d love to get your take on the situation – what would you do and why? Would you hide money from your spouse? Why would you hide the money? I know every couple is different, so I’d like to hear your explanations.

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon

by Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  1. I think that if I were in this situation (and debt free) I’d probably put the money in savings or use it to have some fun with my partner. Just because one of us got a bonus doenst mean that person should keep/spend it all to themselves. They were able to work more/harder because the other person may have been picking up extra duties around the house.
    Share it and do something fun with each other (like a staycation) You’ll both enjoy it more.

  2. I am a financial writer and personal money coach. One tool I commonly use with my coaching clients is the spending diary. No big deal really in that all that is required is that you log every instance of spending on a daily basis.

    More often than not, when working with couples, one or both of them try to veto the idea for one reason or another. There is no valid reason to not want to participate in this exercise, in my opinion. And what I have learned is the reluctance is because one of them or both are doing some spending on the sly that they do not want exposed.

    I won’t work with fudged numbers and if they hold-fast in their refusal then I always cease my relationship with them. And almost always the relationship between the couple ends, as well. If you are willing to cheat or lie about any one thing then you are willing to cheat and lie about anything…I’m just saying…

  3. In my opinion, hiding is never good. You could previously think about what to do with it and discuss it with the spouse. Chances you will exchange ideas and maybe even agree (yes, agreeing exists in a lot of couples)! But buying the new TV without your spouse knowing is simply stupid. She will ask where that money comes from, why did you buy this while we got this and that to pay, etc. It will end up in some battle and incomprehension. Talking is always better, and men, please, do you really fear your wife that much?!

  4. I must admit that since I handle the finances in our household and DH isn’t all that interested in doing more than (seemingly) spending whatever we have, when I won $1K in a sweepstakes not long ago, my initial response— well, okay, my initial response was to jump up and down and squeal, so my second response was to think briefly about not telling my husband about the windfall. Why? Because he’s already spent $4K this year on a shed and the landscaping for it because he thinks he needs it (not because it fits into our budget or financial situation anywhere). I was literally afraid his reaction would be something like, “Great! Now I can get the XYZ for the shed!” or another motorcycle or another guitar or whatever. After that brief thought flitted in and out, I *did* tell him about the prize money, and none of those concerns happened – he was simply very happy for me. But it’s possible that the husbands mentioned by the person asking the question may feel that their spouses take all the money for important stuff like food, paying bills, etc., and here’s their big chance to get some toys that they won’t be able to get if they have to cough up the money. OR, more like my situation, their spouses tend to spend a little recklessly and they didn’t want the newfound money disappearing like that.

    In the end, while I may understand and slightly empathize with keeping the money secret for whatever reason, I don’t think it’s a good idea at all. As you say, a small secret can come back later as a big honkin’ secret that causes a lot of trouble. Just my two cents.