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Hidden accounts, secret debts and quiet overspending: Why are we hiding our personal finances from loved ones?

February 10, 2020

While romance may be brewing ahead of Valentine's Day, so are some dirty secrets. 

About 44% of U.S. adults admit to hiding a bank account or debt, or to spending more money than their partner would be comfortable with, according to a new study from CreditCards.com, which surveyed 1,378 adults who are married, in a civil partnership or living with their partner. That number was included in a survey of 2,501 adults from CreditCards.com.

So why are people committing financial infidelity? More than one-third say they do it for privacy or a desire to control their own finances. 

“Money is such a taboo,” says Ted Rossman, an industry analyst at CreditCards.com. “People would rather talk about other uncomfortable topics like religion or political views than money. This is really unfortunate because hiding that kind of a secret can hold back your financial future and undermine trust.”

Roughly 34% of the 1,378 respondents say they believe they’ve spent more than their significant other would tolerate. 

About 17% of those surveyed have kept a secret account (10% credit card, 9% savings, 8% checking) while 12% have carried some amount of hidden debt.