Younger couples most likely to have secret bank accounts
Couples and finances is often not a marriage made in heaven. Survey after survey finds that money problems are the biggest source of friction, stress, and arguments.
But financial honesty at least, like chivalry, isn’t dead, according to a new AARP Bulletin survey. Only five percent of respondents admitted to having a bank account that their spouse or partner doesn’t know about. Of respondents who do not have secret accounts, 15 percent said they know of some else who does have.
Hidden purchases, the AARP survey found, are also rare, but more common than hidden bank accounts. About 17 percent said that they have hidden purchases from their spouse or partner in the past year. But that percentage increases to 24 percent when asked if they have ever kept a purchase a secret. In total, just over one-third (34 percent) said that they have hiiden purchases from a spouse or partner either in the past year or ever.
When it comes to couple and finances, the specific financial matters most commonly withheld between spouses or partners are lending money to a friend or family member (8 percent), the amount of credit card purchases (6 percent) and the amount of debt (6 percent).
Half of the respondents reported that they maintain only joint accounts, while almost one-third (31 percent) have both joint and separate bank accounts. Only 18 percent maintain separate accounts only.
The AARP survey was comprised on interviews with 1,263 adults ages 18 and older who are either married or living with a partner. Respondents ages 50 and older were more likely than younger couples to have joint accounts, while, conversely, younger respondents were more likely to have separate accounts.
Younger respondents were almost twice as likely as their older counterparts to say they have hidden purchases from the spouse or partner in the past year (23 percent vs. 12 percent). The gap is even wider (27 percent vs. 12 percent) between younger and older couples who admit to withholding sensitive financial information.
How to avoid the minefields of couples and finances? A recent Millionaire Corner survey asked affluent households what would be the primary piece of advice they would give to someone before they got married. Thirty-eight percent recommended premarital counseling to ensure that both people were on the same page in terms of their financial attitudes and goals.
Women are, not surprisingly, more keen on communication about finances prior to marriage. Eighty-two percent—compared with 70 percent of men--said they would advise couples to compare notes on financial goals, expectations and values.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.