Family Law

Could Your Spouse Be Keeping Money Secrets?

by Tara Rummell Berson, REDBOOK contributor

Nearly one in three adults has lied to their spouse or partner about their finances, according to an exclusive REDBOOK/ poll. So if you're not a trained PI, and want to suss out whether your partner is a money stasher or a spendthrift, here are some warning signs that he or she may be hiding important money info:

Personality Changes

Has your husband been picking fights for no reason lately? "If your partner's being more argumentative, defensive or irritable, that's a good indication he's in 'stress mode' and could be hiding something," says Olivia Mellan, psychotherapist, money coach and author of Overcoming Overspending: A Winning Plan for Spenders and Their Partners.

Money Avoidance

If it seems like your wife is in a fog when discussing money, and only seems to haul out her purchases when you're in a good mood, she's probably being sneaky about finances. Likewise, if your husband avoids eye contact when discussing a hot stock or the new set of golf clubs "a friend gave me," he's not telling you the whole story. (Men are generally less team-oriented when it comes to handling money, Mellan notes.)

Suspicious? Don't snoop - just ask to look at the receipts or records that are worrying you. You'll feel more secure if you see things in black and white, says Mellan. "Confront him or her when you're not furious or stressed and talk about your concerns in a non-attacking way," she adds. "Show your vulnerability to the situation."

Change in Routine or Sleeping Habits

If your partner is behaving oddly or showing signs of how they'd typically react to a stressful situation - not sleeping, for example - he could be fretting over you finding out about his latest splurge or the inheritance he never told you about. Be aware, however, that you could be misreading the signals, says Mellan. "The source of stress could be medical- or job-related or some other issue they're just not ready to talk about it yet."

P.S. It's okay to keep a few secrets! Obviously, honesty is the best policy in a relationship, but it's normal to have some financial privacy, says Mellan. "You should have some separate money, and shouldn't have to explain certain purchases when you're not in debt and have enough in your savings account," she adds. To stay on top of your finances, hold a monthly meeting to go over your big-picture plans together.

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