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Spouses Hiding Money – Worry or No Big Deal?

by Brie Reyes

In most marriages, it is rare that both spouses manage the daily finances and money. Typically, one or the other becomes the checkbook manager, crunching the math and balancing out the bills every month. So, when it becomes known that one partner has been pocketing a hidden stash of cash, the matter could either result in a shrug or fireworks can go off.

Call it financial infidelity, hiding, stuffing under the mattress, or having a personal nest egg, spouses hiding money is not a new behavior by any means. Only a few decades ago it was very common for more men to be into control of personal household finances, married or not, and women to be dependent on family or a partner/husband for financial support. Times have changed of course, and many more women are financially independent coming into a marriage today, but the dynamics of one spouse becoming the household finance manager still remain regardless. Yet, people still want the ability to have their own pocket money, free of explanations or compromise.

Ways of Hiding Money ($)

Interestingly, the way people hide money is just as varied as the reasons why. Some use plain old cash, siphoning off bills from larger amounts available. Some have become adept at moving amounts digitally to electronic side accounts. Some flat out don’t even bother to use their own money, instead using a separate credit card and hiding it in the monthly bills. The most common one is to avoid direct deposit and have extra pay like overtime checks provided in paper. The overtime check is then deposited in a separate account without being known at home.

Tell-Tale Signs

A lack of communication is the most obvious sign something is being hidden. If spouses can’t share bank account statements and login/password credentials easily, there’s something off already. The next big sign is the sudden appearance of high-price items in the house, and it’s clear a lot of money was spent to get the item. If you’re worried that a spouse is doing the above or similar, don’t confront at first. Instead, get a copy of your tax return if you don’t do the taxes for your household personally. The accounts might be hidden from you, but it’s a federal crime to hide them from the IRS. Other accounts have to be listed to avoid an audit. With a full understanding of what’s going on financially, then start your discussion.

Found Out, Now What

A hidden spouse money stash really depends on how big a deal it is to you personally. Most couples actually like the idea of each having their own petty cash account, no questions asked. But if things are tight, it could be a sore spot. The big elephant in the room is a lack of trust and communication. That’s far more important to fix than the fact the money was hidden in the first place. If you can get to the bottom of why there wasn’t enough trust to share the hidden money’s existence, then you can make headway on how to resolve the related relationship issue. Focus on that first, not so much the money itself.

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