With wedding season in full swing, American Express' new Spending & Savings Tracker survey focused on money and relationships. Their findings were a bit disturbing. An astounding 91% of Americans said they found reasons not to talk about money and were more likely to know their partner's weight than his or her salary. Worse, when we do talk money, we often lie.
More than a quarter of respondents said they misrepresented the cost of a purchase and 30% say they've hidden purchases from their partner. When asked what was the craziest thing they'd done to hide their spending, respondents most often said they hid the purchase in the trunk of the car until their partner fell asleep, went to work, or traveled out of town.
Another significant portion of over spenders said that they just quietly put things in the back of the closet for a few weeks. Then, when asked, they could honestly say "I've had this for a long time."
"I don't have to do anything crazy," said one respondent. "He's not that observant."
Those with observant spouses went to greater lengths. For instance, survey respondents said that they:
- Concealed it in a grocery bag.
- Stole out in the middle of the night to buy it and stash it under the bed.
- Put it in a trash bag.
- Removed the tags and pretended the clothes came from Goodwill.
- Buried it in the back yard. (I did not make that up. Some woman is going to be really surprised when she replants her garden.)
- Gave the item to a friend, who then gave it to the couple as "a gift."
- Had the item shipped to Mom.
- Used the "Don't ask/Don't tell" policy-- i.e. I didn't lie because he/she didn't ask.
- Kept it (a new motorcycle) in his brother's garage and said that the missing money was "a loan" to his parents
- Made the purchase with the fake name "Vance Archer." (Vance, you're busted.)
- "Swallowed the receipt."
- Said it was "a gift."
- Bought it with a "secret account."
"Conversations about finances seem to be avoided like the plague by most couples," said Pamela Codispoti, American Express senior vice president and general manager of Consumer Card Products.
Nearly one-in-three couples (30%) said money caused the most relationship stress, distantly followed by intimacy for 11%; children (9%) and in-laws (4%).