According to a new survey conducted by TD Ameritrade and LearnVest, a lot of people are in the dark when it comes to their couple finances. I've always heard financial experts talk about how spouses should both be completely aware of every credit card swipe, bill, purchase, cash withdrawal or financial move made. In my mind, it makes more sense to divide financial chores. I don't always want to know every little detail of our personal finances because I could feel stressed out about a steep increase in our property taxes, for example. Unless it's a situation I can do something about, I do thing ignorance is sometimes bliss.
Carrying no debt
According to the survey, 38 percent of couples said they are not completely aware of how much debt their partner had. In my family, the rule is that no one carries any debt. That makes it simple. We make every effort to pay off our credit card balance every month. Since my husband and I share our online banking, we can each go in and make a payment to the credit card company based on how much we spent. We don't have to depend on the other person to tell us about every expense in order to stay out of debt.
Withholding financial information
The survey showed that 21 percent of the respondents aren't completely honest about their spending habits. My husband and I circumvent this problem by having an adult allowance. We don't grill each other about how much money we spent with our hobbies and activities because we designate a certain amount of cash for fun. The survey also revealed 40 percent don't trust their partner to manage their combined finances.
Marrying young, but not too young
My husband and I married in our early 30s, which helped us more easily combine our finances. I think people who wait until they are older have more to talk about. We didn't really grow our wealth until we came together. All of the equity in our home is our shared equity since we purchased the house after we married. We also went from having less than $10,000 each in retirement savings to having 10 times as much. At the same time, we weren't so young when we married that we still had student loan debt. According to experts, couples who married later in life bring more financial baggage to the relationship.
Keeping good secrets
I don't think anyone wants to be a victim of financial infidelity. My husband and I like to surprise each other with good financial secrets. For example, I wanted to take a cruise to the Bahamas a few years ago. I didn't think we could afford to go with our two children. However, my husband secretly saved $4,000 so we could afford the trip. I sometimes send a secret extra payment to the mortgage company so I can surprise my husband with a paid-off home earlier than he had expected.
In our case, money secrets don't backfire. Since our goal is to improve our financial lives, our money secrets make our marriage stronger.
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- Banking & Budgeting