Do You Have A Secret Bank Account?

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secret bank accountI joke around with my wife all the time about her sketchiness.  She always seems to buy me great presents that never show up on the credit card bill.  When I ask her how she affords it, she usually gives a smile and a wink before she walks away.  I joke around and tell her one of these days I’m going to find out where she keeps her shady slush fund.

 

Paypal Account

All jokes aside, my wife doesn’t really have a shady slush fund.  She has a personal Paypal account that she created before we were married, and I never really knew about.  She insists that every time we buy something online, that we use Ebates.  That way, a check gets deposited into her Paypal account quarterly.

 

secret bank accountMy wife also likes to hustle and has made a bit of money selling items (mainly clothes) on eBay.  On top of that, she loves finding designer clothes at consignment and thrift stores.  After she’s done wearing an item, she lists it on eBay and makes a tidy profit that gets deposited into her Paypal account.  

 

Although what she really loves is when she finds original-tagged items.  Because of course, people are willing to pay a premium for items that still have the tags on them.  Who doesn’t love something new and unworn??

 

Thrift Store Win

secret bank accountRecently, she found two ties, one of which retails for around $80 and the other, $100.  The one retailing around $80 still had its original tags.  She bought each for $0.99 a piece.  The more expensive tie looked nice, but it wasn’t my style.  She ended up giving it to her father, but she planned to resell it on eBay if he did not like it.  Hopefully she will make a few bucks when she sells the one with tags soon!

 

So, the money in her Paypal account generated from Ebates and eBay has created a slush account.  As I mentioned before, she uses this account to mainly buy gift or sometimes withdraw extra cash to have on-hand.

 

I honestly have no idea how much she makes a month, and I’m not even sure she knows most of the time.  We don’t factor her Paypal money into our budget since it normally ebbs and flows depending on how busy/motivated that she is to hustle for the month.

 

Secretive Spouses

secret bank accountWith that said, I was recently reading a study done by Princeton Research Associates for CreditCards.com, which said that 7.2 million Americans (4.4 million men and 2.8 million women, to be precise) have a bank account or credit card that their spouse or live-in partner doesn’t know about.

 

According to the latest stats, there are 123 million people that are married in the US.  Based on 7 million people having secret accounts, this means that 6% of the married population is hiding a credit card or bank account from their spouse.  Interestingly enough, more men have secret bank accounts than women.

 

secret bank accountPersonally, I’ve only known women that have had secret slush funds and credit cards that their spouses didn’t know about.  One woman told me that she was going to create a slush fund when she got married because she wanted to have enough money to have plastic surgery when she got older so that she could “stay pretty”.  

 

At the time, I remember thinking that seems weird that she was going into the marriage with the plan to hide something from her husband.  But now that I think of it, does she really think that she’ll be able to get plastic surgery and recover before her future husband finds out?  Probably not.  I have a feeling that secret account won’t stay very secret when that surgery happens.

 

Financial Transparency in Marriage

debt free life secret bank accountNow I want to be perfectly clear, I’m not saying that individuals going into a marriage shouldn’t have the ability to spend the money that they earn in a way that they see fit.  I’m just not a big fan of hiding money in order to buy things that you want in the future.  If you and your future spouse can’t discuss money issues before marriage, that raises a big red flag in my book.  

 

I know one couple that talked and talked about money before they got married.  But even they had money issues to deal once they were married.  They were both right out of college and dirt poor.  There was no money to be spent.  However, each of them seemed to buy something that would get on the other person’s nerves.  

 

value-spend-secret bank accountThe husband would get mad at his wife whenever she would pick up a little goody like nail polish.  She justified that she was trying to look pretty for him.  However, she would get annoyed when he would ditch his brown bag lunch to go out with the boss for lunch.  He would try to justify that he was networking and trying to move up more quickly within the company.    

 

As most people know, that first year of marriage can be a little rough.  And of course, they brought two different mindsets to the marriage.  They kept bumping heads until they decided that they should create a slush fund in their budget.  That allowed each of them to spend $100 however they saw fit.  After that, they had some initial grumblings about the way the other person decided to spend their money.  But over time this disappeared, and this strategy worked for them.

 

Our Financial Dialogue

secret bank accountMy wife and I discussed trying a slush fund, but neither one of us is a big spender.  On top of that, we don’t tend to get hung up on the smaller purchases.  The only time my wife gets mad at me is when I forget to use Ebates before I make a purchase.  Otherwise, I can look back at my Personal Capital account and see that our expenses stay within $100 of the median except for months that we go on vacation.

 

The one decision that we did make though was to talk about all purchases that were going to exceed $100.  Not being a big spender, it’s a rare occasion when I see something and decide that I really need it.  My wife, on the other hand, enjoys shopping, but gravitates towards thrift/consignment stores, etc.

 

So even if my wife really did have a secret slush fund, I’m not sure what she would even use it for, since she’s not a big spender.  She is so low maintenance, and it’s incredibly refreshing to me.  I use to joke around before I got married that there was only going to be one high-maintenance person in my relationship, and it was going to be me.  Well I definitely lucked out because I am undoubtedly the high-maintenance one in our marriage 🙂

 

Readers, do you have a secret bank account that your spouse doesn’t know about?  As I ask that, I wonder how many will actually admit to it on the off-chance that their spouse somehow stumbles upon these comments, ha!  Please share your thoughts below.

Mustard Seed Money

Welcome to the website. A mustard seed is a very small seed but astonishingly grows very large over time. My hope is that through your financial journey that your small investment in time, money and faith will grow beyond anything that you could ever imagine.

61 Comments

  1. Nope, no secret bank accounts here! Although I do think your wife’s paypal account is genius on her part. The fact that she’s figured out how to make a healthy little sum not at all from your main incomes is great in itself. And the fact that she chooses to spoil you with it is awesome – not just because you get a bunch of awesome stuff, but because it really reflects on the attitudes on money in your marriage. If she didn’t feel like her financial needs were being met, I’m sure she wouldn’t be spending her ‘secret stash’ on presents for you!
    Daniel Palmer recently posted…The Single Most Powerful Tool to Tame your Grocery BillMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Daniel!!! I am incredibly lucky as my wife is a natural entrepreneur. She is constantly looking for ways to make money. If she had more time I’m sure she’d be running some online empire 🙂 In the meantime though, her side hustles are doing awesome and it’s always nice to get some of the fruits from her labor 🙂

  2. I don’t have a secret account, but sometimes it feels like I do. My husband knows of all the accounts we have but he tends to forget about them in-between when I go over the net worth statement with him. As far as he’s concerned, we just have the checking account and the credit card. He checks the balance of the checking account before spending, never looking at savings. It’s more of a psychological thing for him-if he doesn’t look at the savings accounts, then that money simply isn’t there to spend. It works well for us!
    Liz@ChiefMomOfficer recently posted…Creating Your College Compact in Five Easy StepsMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Liz!!! I asked my wife the other day how much my paycheck was. She looked at me like a deer in the headlights. She had no idea. She just knows there is money in the checking account when she wants to spend. At least she’s checking before spending 🙂

  3. I don’t have any secret bank accounts. I wish I did, but that would require some more cash!! ha!

    In all seriousness, I wish my partner would have a secret brokerage account with millions of dollars… now that would be nice.

    • To marry a secret millionaire would be amazing!!! Although there might be some issues if they withheld that info after we got married. I’d have a lot of questions for them…

  4. We don’t keep secret money around, but we do have separate accounts. It hasn’t been an issue for us since we talk about our finances all the time. I wish we had talked in depth about money before marriage so we could have made better decisions right away.
    I need to get started on Ebates, too; if we’re buying online anyway, why not? How cool of your wife to get gifts using her rewards account!
    Mrs. COD recently posted…Fresh Pasta: The Ultimate Frugal LuxuryMy Profile

  5. No secret accounts in our household. We’ve set up our finances so that each of us receives an allowance each month. Yep, just like when you were a kid. We each get to spend that money however we want. No questions asked. It has worked really well for us. I’m more of an accumulator that makes big purchases, and my wife makes a bunch of small purchases. Our allowance system is an easy way to be fair and avoid arguments over what we’re spending money on.
    Go Finance Yourself! recently posted…Tax Time: Do You Have a Business or an Expensive Hobby?My Profile

    • That’s awesome that you all have found the perfect system for you. I know a ton of couples that are still struggling to figure it out and wish they had these convos earlier on.

  6. No secret accounts in this household. We do have a rule that we talk about purchases beyond 100 dollars like you. We also only have one account. I manage paying the bills and finances largely across all the accounts as she is largely not interested. I.e. My wife is very conscientious of our spending but not and investor. I’m moderately conscientious and an investor. We’re a good match.
    Fulltimefinance recently posted…Bad Debt and Gray DebtMy Profile

    • I think we live parallel lives. My wife is super conscientious about our spending but has no interest in investing. I’m not a big spender but don’t think too much about our spending but spend too much time thinking about our investments 🙂

  7. I get to be the first one to admit I have a secret bank account! Wahoo!

    My husband and I have very different spending patterns. He doesn’t spend often but when he does he wants something BIG like an expensive speaker system or a 3D printer. I spend little amounts here and there on things like sewing or craft items (but which add up eventually). We implemented an allowance system years ago when he purchased a motorcycle and decided he needed a million accessories for it. We both have the same amount to spend and I deposit my “allowance” in my secret bank account. It works great for us to have our own spending money that we don’t have to account for.

    To be honest, I could probably consider all of our bank accounts secret accounts because he has no interest in our finances other than to occasionally ask if we’re going to have enough money for an upcoming financial project/goal (this year we’ll be using his bonus and some money we’ve saved to build a garage/workshop). But, in my defense, I’ve given him instructions on how to access all of your bank accounts and passwords if he ever needed them AND it includes my “secret” bank account too :). Plus my secret bank account lists him as the POD recipient.
    Making Your Money Matter recently posted…Part I – A Beginner’s Guide to Analyzing Your BudgetMy Profile

    • Congrats on being the first one with a secret bank account!!! You and my wife 🙂 Although I don’t have a password to the paypal account. So I probably need to get that fixed 🙂

  8. I don’t believe in secret or separate bank accounts. Growing up my mom actually hid half of her income from my dad and kept it in separate accounts without telling him. When she passed away unexpectedly, we could never recover those funds (even when we needed them to pay for a funeral). I always push for transparency and honesty because doing these little money games is very harmful. We don’t do on-the-sly purchases or hide things from each other because that’s the opposite of how marriage is supposed to work.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What A Frugal Weekend!My Profile

    • Wow…that’s crazy to think your mom had a secret account that you all weren’t allowed to access after her passing. That really stinks.

      That makes a ton of sense why I’m sure you want transparency!!!

    • My wife doesn’t have a ton of free time but she’s able to eek out a profit each month from a couple hours of work. I can’t imagine how well she would do if she had unlimited time.

  9. Both my wife and I have a personal fun account. We know how much gets on it each month and have no view on the current balance. Linda secret…
    I funnel some of that money to a savings account to save up for a 10 year wedding gift.
    ambertree recently posted…No more FI for me!My Profile

  10. No secret accounts for us! I kind of, sort of understand the people that are secretly saving up for a monumental gift or trip, but to me it’s just unsettling. I’d much rather be told that that’s the plan (even if the gift itself is a secret) than accidentally find out about a hidden stash with no explanation. I would think a healthy relationship wouldn’t have any ongoing secrets, and a bank account is a big one.
    Kyle recently posted…PerspectiveMy Profile

    • My wife HATES surprises. She would abhor a vacation that she didn’t get to participate in planning.

      I on the other hand don’t mind surprises plus my wife is super thoughtful so whatever she planned I’m sure I’d like.

  11. I have only one account that’s not a joint one, but it’s definitely not a secret. My wife sat there while I opened it so I could get a bonus from the bank. In fact, if they let us, she’ll open an account there as well. Neither of us spends that much and we generally talk about all our purchases anyway, so there’s no need for a secret account here. I’m glad your wife’s “secret account” is so lucrative and benefits you both.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…If I Had a Million Dollars, I’d Spend It Like ThisMy Profile

    • It’s definitely a nice side benefit that her “secret account” works out so well for me. Although it does make me wonder if she has any other secret accounts 🙂

  12. My ‘husband’ and I are not actually legally married. We just call each other husband and wife, wear rings, and have lived together for 10 years. We might be technically common law. We were both previously married and divorced. Most of our finances are separate and then we have some investments combined. We wrote our wills together. But other than that, I don’t really know how many accounts or credit cards he has, because it is a lot. He has a system. He probably has no idea how many credit cards or accounts I have either, only one of each, but it is not that we are trying to hide anything. I do think that if you get legally married, then every single thing needs to be disclosed since you are legally binding yourself to someone.

    Here’s a story to talk about lack of transparency… a friend of mine was living with a guy for years, who claimed he was divorced, but then she found out he was still legally married and paying the bills for the wife, while my friend was paying for all their expenses including housing, groceries, travel, eating out! She forced him to get divorced (I would have just left), and now they are getting married. It is a very sad situation… I could not trust someone like that at all!
    Primal Prosperity recently posted…Got Presenteeism?My Profile

    • Oh my gosh!!! That is a crazy story about your friend. I would have some serious trust issues if that ever happened to me. She is a much bigger person than me because I think that would be irreparable to me.

    • Thanks for sharing SRGO!!! My wife also has access to her sisters and Dad’s account. They decided to do that in case one of them needed access immediately and my wife was only available for some reason. I didn’t quite follow the logic but they assured me it made sense 🙂

  13. Even if the spouses don’t know the login/password for each other’s checking accounts, it is important that they be jointly owned WROS in case something should happen to one of the spouses.

    I’m beginning to suspect I have seen more of the ugly side of life than the typical commenter on this blog. You would be surprised by the enormity of some secrets that spouses keep from each other. Sometimes the secrets only become known after death or divorce. The revelation of these secrets can be life-altering. Just to play devil’s advocate, for the people who commented that there were no secret accounts in their marriage, how do you know there are no secret accounts? If they are truly secret, you wouldn’t know about them. Maybe they are really saying they have no secret accounts and assume the same for their spouse.

    Here is the technique I have seen most at my workplace. Most large companies treat their annual bonus payments separately from regular payroll wages. This means that the payroll could be directly deposited into a checking account while the bonus could be deposited into a different checking account, split deposited into two accounts or issued as a paper check. The person would tell their spouse they received no bonus or understate the amount. The spouse could easily confirm this by comparing the W-2 against account deposits but most people don’t bother doing that. Working in a cube farm environment, I heard a co-worker call payroll every year and request, confirm, re-confirm, re-re-confirm that her bonus would be issued to her work address via paper check. She almost had a nervous breakdown the year they informed her that they no longer issued paper checks. I don’t know how she handled it that year. She resigned from the company soon after. I don’t know if the two events are related.

    • Whoa that is a crazy story Dan!!! If those are related events I can’t imagine what must be going through her head. Hopefully there was a good reason and nothing nefarious.

      I think you brought up a good point that if a spouse did have a secret account it’d be hard to really know about it. Unless they slipped up along the way.

      I’ll admit I didn’t know about my wife’s paypal account for the first year of marriage until I asked her how she bought things off ebay 🙂

  14. No secret account in our household either, however we did open an account early on in our relationship to avoid any money issues and arguments. That was the best work around for us. The account is for my wife, and she can use it as she pleases. She even has a side hustle which keeps it funded, which makes it that much better. We hardly ever argue about money since.
    Max Your Freedom recently posted…How I Saved $3,000 on Airline TicketsMy Profile

  15. Mrs. Need2Save and I got married rather young (23), so we never really had a chance to have personal accounts before marriage. She knows every dime I make and every dime I spend! It does make Christmas shopping a bit difficult as she can see on Mint everything I purchase.

    We’ve always had joint accounts and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. That said, some couples work better with separate accounts – so whatever works best and keeps the peace.

    And that’s too funny about the Ebates reminders. Whenever I purchase something online, Mrs. Need2Save is sure to remind me to check Ebates. We haven’t been using it long and already have around $261 cash back.
    Mr. Need2Save recently posted…My Practice Retirement DayMy Profile

    • My wife at this point won’t let me shop at all without her checking up on me. Whether it’s Ebates or making sure I get the best price, she definitely knows all the tricks of the trade. She has saved us TONS of money of the years.

      If we had gotten married when I was 23 I’d be a rich man 🙂

      • I’m checking up on Mr.Need2Save to see if he disclosed some account that I don’t know about! Just kidding, kind of, sort of, not really.

        I once wanted to surprise Mr. Need2Save with a cruise that I booked to celebrate him finishing his Master’s Degree. I was so worried about him seeing the credit card charge so I used a debit card that we never, ever use and I transferred the money around within 24 hours of it hitting our bank account so he didn’t notice it. This was before we starting using Mint and now as he says – it is very difficult to surprise one another. But I’d rather have that than a feeling that my spouse may possible be making large financial decisions without consulting me. It would probably take me a significant amount of time to amass that kind of sum through paypal since we don’t use it that often. Good for Mrs. Mustard Seed Money though!

        • Thanks for sharing Mrs. Need2Save!!! I need to share your comment with my wife and let her know if she’s going to take me on surprise cruises that I will give her a secret credit card on top of her paypal account 🙂

          Although the other day she did logon to the account and save the password on my computer. So technically I now have access but I still don’t have the password 🙁

  16. I share my personal finance and net worth on my blog, so there is no reason for me to keep my finances a secret from my wife. I am not a spender by nature and when I spend big, chances are I am buying assets that have potential to return more money than the amount that I spent. Sometimes, I think that my slush fund is my investment accounts and I will only start the spending spree when I have reached FIRE.
    Leo T. Ly @ isaved5k recently posted…The Fourth Step To Saving A Million DollarsMy Profile

    • Hahhahaha…I don’t think your wife has to worry about transparency with you 🙂 I am definitely hoping to spend a bit more once I hit FIRE. I’d love to travel around the world 🙂

  17. Yes of course! But I’m not saying exactly it’s a secret account. It’s some place to store your money without knowing to anyone expecting you. It will help you in the emergency situation that you never expected. So keeping secret account is the good one. Thanks for your excellent article.

  18. Sometimes it’s not secret accounts that can hurt a marriage. I’ve seen and heard how finances can snowball out of control.

    I had an interview with a husband who had good intentions, but long story short, through the years and overspending (family, not just him), they acquired over $100,000 of debt. He had to admit to his wife the amount and that they were going to be bankrupt in a matter of weeks.

    Even if someone handles the monthly or day to day finances, it’s good to have both spouses review all the numbers.

    • Wow that must have been a compelling interview. I can’t imagine telling my wife that we were going bankrupt in a couple of weeks based off good intentions. I almost feel it would be easier if I had bad intentions. Thanks for sharing!!!

  19. Mr. BITA could not be less interested in all our accounts if he tried, so they might as well all be secret accounts. Seriously, I think I could empty out all our accounts and as long as I left enough to ensure that no payments bounced, he would take months, maybe even years to notice. This is especially true for my Indian accounts – he isn’t even a joint holder on some of those (because we are lazy) , and they aren’t linked into things like Mint and PC. It takes all the thrill out of having a secret account though – why even bother.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…Benefits of Credit Card Churning: Airport Lounge AccessMy Profile

  20. The importance of discussing finances with a significant other cannot be understated! A recent survey I read about found that less than half of Americans discussed finances before marriage. It is always a tough discussion when intermingling love and money, but the stakes are just too high to ignore such a topic. Fortunately, you seem to have found a very nice balance in your relationship. Thanks for sharing!

    • My wife and I had the conversation early on about money. I think it probably would have been a deal breaker if we couldn’t get on the same page. I wasn’t going to wait for one of us to change 🙂

  21. No secret accounts. But aside from a joint savings and a joint Betterment account neither of us account for every dollar. We have a general idea of what’s in each others retirement accounts and the kids 529s. Neither one of us are spenders. I think we are a lot healthier, that we don’t have the type of relationship where we question every small purchase.
    Dividend Seedling recently posted…Two More Recent BuysMy Profile

    • I seem to find a common theme in the PF community that most of us are not big spenders and don’t have secret accounts or at least we’re not willing to admit that we have one publicly 🙂

  22. My wife knows about the accounts we have, and what we use them for. She just never checks them or logs in, etc. even though she is a joint owner on all of them. She doesn’t want to deal with the balance, what we use it for how often to withdrawal or any of that. She just wants to keep things simple for herself and have a fixed amount she can use on a weekly basis for grocery, eating out, shopping, personal things, etc. and this has worked out well for us for the most part.
    SMM recently posted…Spending on Lunch – A Personal ExperimentMy Profile

  23. I do not have any secret accounts…but my husband does!
    Actually, it is not so much secret as it is separate. My paychecks are deposited into our joint checking account and then budgeted out to different savings and spending pots. He is self-employed, with irregular income, and keeps his business accounts separate (of course), but also has a private savings account. He isn’t a spendy person at all in general, but I think this money does go for technology upgrades…new computer, phone, what have you….maybe better if I don’t know (disapproving head shake). However, he also uses it to buy airplane tickets, which all family members appreciate. It’s sort of “out of budget” money.

  24. We fall into the “$100 no discussion” pool. We keep funds for “fun” as well as savings and investment to make sure we don’t “over save” but I don’t think it’s possible to share money and not have some disagreements over it.

    The key is to realize you and your spouse are different, and everyone’s trying to do the right thing. If you start with that in mind, it’s much easier to ask “help me understand why you did that” rather than “what they heck were you thinking”…
    Jack @ Enwealthen recently posted…3 Biggest Neglected Investments You Haven’t MadeMy Profile

  25. Late to the party (I’m reading through a lot of your posts). My wife only grumbles when I don’t use eBates as Well! She handles all of our finances, so it’s almost impossible to surprise her with anything. I’ve started a slush fund in the form of a coffee can in the basement. I make money every once in awhile selling things I make or fix up, and it usually goes in the coffee can. Not even sure what’s in there but I use it for little surprises here and there. She also is suspicious of how I’ve flown under the radar lol

    • Thanks for stopping by Brian!!! Sounds like my wife and your wife are similar 🙂 That’s awesome that you started a small slush fund to surprise her. I’m sure she’s super appreciative.

      Thanks also for reading through the posts. Hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far.

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