Playing Hide and Seek with Money

by TTMK on June 21, 2012 · 6 comments

When we were younger, a game of hide and seek was often fun.  I see that with my own kids, who play that game on occasion.  My oldest has even recruited me to play a few times, which I went along with.  Who says that we can’t be young at heart, right?

When it comes to finances, however, hide and seek isn’t always a good thing.  Squirreling it away is fine, but keeping it from a spouse is another thing altogether.  As we recently discussed, hiding money can be a cause of money fights for couples.  Nobody really wants to be involved in such conflict, right? A harmonious relationship seems more fun.

A recent piece in Kiplinger introduced a question, where somebody was asking how to handle a situation where her she and her husband had joint accounts, yet he deposited a bonus check into a separate account he had.

Now, the couple did maintain the separate accounts that they had, but apparently had a plan to have joint finances where income would go and from which expenses would be paid.  However, in this case, the husband deviated from the plan.  What’s more, he didn’t come out and tell his wife.  Rather, she heard there was a bonus and asked him about it, to be told that he pays some household things out of the account sometimes and not much else.

She noted that she trusts him, though a friend cautioned otherwise.

Personally, I think that this is something that on face value, may or may not be worthy of strong suspicion.  Not enough information to say, and it’s good to consider someone innocent until proven guilty.  That being said, this should raise warning flags for any spouse.  Even if there is no deliberate foul intent, when spouses deviate from a plan so strongly (as one can perceive this to be based on how it’s described), it can lead to all kinds of problems.

I think I would handle such a situation by first taking the time to avoid accusing and assuming the worst.  It would be easy to damage a relationship by accusing someone falsely.

Having said that, I would request that we stay true to the joint finances plan and ask that we work toward an agreed upon practice of sharing all of our financial statements.  This includes personal and joint statements.  The thing is, if money is earned during marriage, it should belong to both people, right? If the question of joint vs. separate accounts is actually irrelevant, shouldn’t there be transparency in all accounts that could possible hold marital money?

I just think that keeping open communication, staying on the same page, and honoring commitments made to each other are all very important and the right things to do.  If errors are made, it’s fair to nicely ask for things to get back on track.

My Questions for You

Would you assume the worst in this case, while being suspicious, or would you assume that there was no bad intent?

How would you handle such a situation?

Do you think that there should be total transparency is all financial dealings, or should there be some level of personal space when it comes to financial information?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Edward Antrobus June 21, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Personally, I feel that if a certain amount was agreed upon for the joint accounts and joint bills, than that’s the amount for those and if something extra comes in for either party, they can use it as they see fit. My wife falls in the utter transparency and telling each other about every penny in or out. Actually, that’s what our fight was about on Tuesday.

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TTMK June 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Edward – I guess I like the transparency approach, with the notion that we don’t need to badger the other person over every single expenditure. Just be open with sharing all information, and it’s all good!

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Paul @ The Frugal Toad June 23, 2012 at 9:54 am

Assuming anything will get you in trouble. As long as both spouses are living up to their shared responsibilities what does it matter what they do with their own money? Without trust any relationship is doomed.

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TTMK June 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Paul – agree that any relationship without trust is in trouble. As for the concept of their own money, isn’t money in marriage truly jointly shared? Even if people try separate accounts, they’re married so the money is probably jointly owned anyway right?

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SB @ One Cent At A Time June 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I would go with Paul, if there’s no trust relationship would fail eventually. Its not necessarily to tell everything but having trust is more important.

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TTMK June 25, 2012 at 11:09 pm

SB – trust is vital, no arguments here!

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