Newlyweds Admit to Keeping Financial Secrets

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More than 9 in 10 newlyweds cited financial responsibility as an important attribute in a spouse, yet many don’t practice it themselves, a new survey shows.

The survey from credit-rating bureau Experian found that some newlyweds enter marriage either keeping financial secrets from their spouse, or not knowing basic financial information about their spouse.

For the survey, 1,000 U.S.-based adults who had married within the past year were polled.

The results show that 16 percent of them have a secret financial account that their spouse doesn’t know about, with the majority of them being men (61 percent men versus 39 percent women).

On average, newlyweds said they would spend more than $800 without telling their spouse. Men said they would spend an average of $1,259 before telling their spouse, while women said they would spend an average of $383 before telling.

Experian’s director of public education, Rod Griffin, says in a news release:

“Newlyweds were surprisingly unaware of their spouse’s financial situation before walking down the aisle. For example, 40 percent of all respondents said they did not even know their spouse’s credit score before getting married. … Credit impacts many aspects of building a life together.”

Other information newlyweds reported not knowing prior to marriage included:

  • Their spouse’s long-term financial goals (31 percent)
  • The amount of their spouse’s student loan debt (31 percent)
  • Their spouse’s annual income (25 percent)

Still, more than half of newlyweds (56 percent) considered the impact of a spouse’s credit score before marriage. Other major concerns that newlyweds reported about finances included:

  • Credit scores as a source of stress in their marriage (39 percent)
  • Developing a shared budget (23 percent)
  • Not being able to pay off debt (19 percent)

Michael Slepian, a post-doctoral researcher at Columbia Business School who specializes in secrecy, tells Bloomberg Business that hiding information can also damage a newlywed couple’s relationship:

“People often believe that revealing a secret will have negative consequences, but holding off and revealing it later won’t make things better.”

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