Monday, April 25, 2011

Is it a bad thing to hide money from your spouse?

I have some exciting news!

My niece got word from her financial aid office last week that there appears to be a credit in her tuition account. It looks like an overpayment was made! She let me know that it's likely close to $1000 and that if I'm interested I could have it since I was the one paying into her tuition. Um, hello, YES PLEASE!!!

I was so excited that my first impulse was to tell my dear hubby! But something stopped me...

I started to think about how we don't have anything put away into an emergency savings account and how this would be a great start for us. I started to recall how I've noticed some traits from my husband that make me question sharing the news of new-found money with him. Whereas I'm a planner and enviously read other blogs where people actually plan out their meals for the week, my husband prefers that we go to the grocery store on a nightly basis (which I see as a waste of time and money). He has no problem with an empty fridge or completely empty pockets or wallet.

There's an excitement for him in the idea of living on the edge with nothing but the shirt on his back to get him through. This makes me nauseous and very nervous! He has this mentality that "everything will always work out". I love that about him in one sense but in another this phrase frustrates me because I'm typically the one making it work out!

I'm not angry about it and I don't really want or expect him to change, I'm just thinking that I need to quickly and quietly bank this money or else it may disappear into oblivion and we'll have nothing to show for it. I considered putting it towards our debt too but I constantly have this low grade anxiety when I think of us without a safety net and I think funding our emergency fund first is the way to go. If secretly locking this money away somewhere helps me get rid of that feeling, I think it may be worth it!

On the other hand, I want to be completely open and honest with my husband. I don't want to be dishonest or hide anything from him but too often I've seen money burn a hole in his pocket. Believe it or not, I'm actually the better one with the money! I'm the one who does the budget and looks at our bills. I enjoy it and he doesn't have much of an interest. If he ever were to ask if we had money in savings, I would be honest and tell him we did. I just don't know that I should volunteer the information beforehand.

Nothing is finalized yet and until I actually see a check for the credit, I'm hesitant to believe that there really will be one. I still have some time to decide how to move forward. What do you think?

Questions : Is a secret a bad thing when you believe it's for the overall good?


  1. It depends. In your situation, I would say no. I would fund the Emergency Fund and let it sit there. You know it is there, and when and IF you need it again, then tell him. That is what I did. I stashed $1000.00 from my taxes, but I ended up having to use it, but I did not tell the BF about it. When I told him I had the money, he was grateful I had it.

  2. About a month and a half ago, I found out my husband had been using a credit card (that was in his name only) behind my back. I was furious and felt like I couldn't trust him anymore. In the time since, we've committed to being completely open and honest with each other, and he picked up extra shifts at work to pay off the card. I am just not big on keeping secrets from one another. No matter how big or small.
    I understand your husband is not as great with money as you are, but I think you should work on helping him understand the importance of financial security rather than keeping things from him.
    I manage all our finances, but we talk every week about where we are financially and where we are with our savings goals. Since he was put on a strict cash-only system, he's managed to actually spend less! It's worked wonders and we are seriously happier than ever... and rarely fight about finances anymore. Maybe I should do a post about it...haha

  3. I think it really depends on the relationship and the type of secret.

    My DH sounds a bit like yours, he doesn't want to know the details and he thinks it will all work out somehow. He wouldn't know exactly how much is in our emergency fund, or exactly how much all the bills and debts are, but he's basically on board so I manage the money and let him know in general where we are up to. After 32 years together I've realised he's not going to change :)
    If we were running up bills and keeping it a secret, then I'd be worried.

    I'd just put it in the emergency fund and it will give you some peace of mind. I guess it depends on the level of detail you both want to share about the finances.

  4. I think it depends on what your usual habits are with respect to your joint finances. If you are in a relationship where you maintain separate bank accounts and do what you like, that is one thing. It is different when you are joint in every way. I'm sure you made the decision together to spend the money on your niece's tuition, so you should decide together what to do with the money you got back when you paid too much. Approach your DH and tell him there was a credit, and there's some extra money coming back, and you think you should put it in an e-fund and explain why. Ask him what he wants to do with the money. Then decide together. Wait to deposit the cheque until the decision is made so the money doesn't go elsewhere.

    Whether spending or saving, I think that keeping money secrets can be just the beginning of keeping secrets from your spouse.

  5. Secrets about money could be bad for a marriage, but you have to make the decision about what's right in your situation. I can see your point about it being for the greater good though.

  6. if it was me, not telling would just nag me until it just slipped out anyway. So, I think I would say something like - there was some money coming back, and unless he really disagreed I would stash it away for a rainy day. Cos not having an EF is making me anxious. I know you believe everything always works out in the end, but I would feel a lot better knowing this too. A small EF would do that for me. Thank you for being the most wonderful husband ever. - or something like that. Don't think I would mentioned the amount unless he asked...

  7. Put the money in the savings account. Do not tell him, but if he asks is there any money in savings? say yes and tell him the amount. If you live with a compulsive I can live on the edge personality you must protect yourself. Now do you tell him that you saved $8.00 at the store? No so a small emergency fund is not that big a deal. Give yourself some breathing room. My husband and I are very open with and other but he has no idea about our fiances. If he asks I tell him. If he does not like it then he can take care of the bills. After 33 years of marriage I just stash money away and shut up.

  8. Yes, I would stash it away and have some peace of mind. In this case what he doesn't know will definitely not hurt him. You'll be able to sleep at night knowing you have a cushion "just in case".
    PS - what fantastic news!!

  9. Maybe you should ask him hypothetically if you had an extra thousand dollars would he want to set up an emergency fund, and go from there. Or start planting the seeds and start telling him about your concern about not having an emergency fund and that you would like to have one. When the money comes it won't be a major shock about what you intend to do with it.

  10. I keep having trouble posting at work!
    If I were married my spouse would have to understand that I need a financial cushion for security - the last serious bf not only didn't understand but didn't care - that should have been a big warning for me. I'd put the money in savings and try to get him on the same page as you - I have a hard enough time meeting financial goals just dealling with myself - let alone having a spouse not in the same game!

  11. If you're not comfortable with keeping the $1000 from him as a secret E-fund, why not talk to him and say "we have $1000 coming back to us. I plan on putting my half in an emergency fund, which will put me at ease. Are you planning on putting your half into savings as well, or paying down debt with it?"
    This way you needn't feel guilty, some goes into savings giving you peace of mind, and if he chooses either option you have suggested, it's still a win-win for you as a couple.
    Just my 2 cents....

  12. I came back to see what other people had said and had another thought...

    Honestly think about how you would feel if he took $1,000 and put it somewhere or towards something - anything at all - without telling you. The question here is not about "the greater good" but rather about keeping a secret from your spouse. How would it make you feel if he did the same thing? And even if it is put towards "the greater good" how would you feel if he put it there without telling you because he was worried you wouldn't save it if you were consulted? I imagine I would feel pretty crappy myself if I found out my spouse put money away without telling me because he didn't trust me to make the right decision.

  13. I was a total "put it away and don't say anything unless he asks" vote, but then I read payingmyself's last comment, and that's a good point. Only you can decide, but it's not like you're going out and spending it on yourself without telling him. Just make sure it's an E-fund, and consider how he'll feel if you tell him it was stashed.

  14. Thanks for all the feedback! I really appreciate it. Although I've had mixed feelings, I think I have to agree with those who say to tell the spouse. I would feel pretty bad if he kept it from me. I'm going to be honest and say that we have a check coming in and I'd like to put it into our e-savings and that I hope he supports that decision. I'll let you all know how it goes!

  15. I don't know if it's technically stashing money away but I always have a hundred or Rambo doesn't know about. Rambo's not bad with money and he knows what I usually have in my savings, but I like the idea of having money to spend if I need to or want anything. ;)

  16. stash it! are you looking to go out and spend it on your self no! You taking care of both your welfare if something happpens. You can pay for it. Does he call you evertime he buys junk or a beer a cup of coffee? No that stuff adds up some people enjoy alot of worthless things. I collect money for a rainy day. Not a load just enough that I can sleep at night if the roof caves in.