When a woman hides spending from her husband, she's likely to concealbeauty purchases, such as cosmetics, an expensive purse, or a salonvisit.
When men sneak around with money, they commonly spend on entertainment, guns, power tools, even cars.
And more of us do it than you might think.
Accordingto a 2012 survey of 23,230 men and women by TODAY.com and SELF.com,almost half of all married adults admit to keeping money secrets.
Lyingto a partner about money was admitted by 56% of women and 37% of men inthe poll. Thirty-two percent of women said they have hidden purchasesfrom their partner compared with 17% of men.
At the same time,honesty about money is a value many married men and women say they prizein relationships. Sixty-three percent of men and 70% of women said theythink honesty about money is as important as remaining monogamous.
While seemingly trivial, hiding expenses can damage relationships and be a sign of deeper problems.
"Financialinfidelity is marked by secrecy. Secrecy is a hallmark of the loss ofintimacy," said John K. Bell, a therapist and licensed clinical socialworker based in Louisville, Ky. "Financial infidelity can certainlydamage a relationship beyond repair ... just like sexual infidelity."
Women,more than men, are likely to avoid conversations about money, saidauthor and financial pundit Suze Orman. Many women assume that attitudebecause when it comes to money, "history favors the man, as handling themoney was always the man's domain," Orman said in her 2007 book, "Womenand Money."
"It is important that you have a totally openrelationship about every penny you have and you do not have. I am askingyou to settle for nothing less," she wrote. After bills are paid andsavings goals are met each month, Orman wrote, couples should divideextra funds into two equal parts. The money can then be deposited inseparate checking accounts for each partner to spend as each wishes.
Overtimeat her nursing job helps Heather Lynn Kluemper, 40, stock a "secretslush fund" for quarterly, $250 wrinkle injections, facials and peels atthe dermatologist. Kluemper said her husband, a banker, is unaware ofher Botox bank account.
"It's non-negotiable. It's mine. I likethat I can treat myself without having to ask permission," saidKluemper, who relocated from Louisville to Lansing, Mich., in 2009 forher husband's career. Her hidden "me fund" buoys her spirits amid theduties of being a wife of 16 years, a full-time nurse to brain-injuredpatients and mother of four boys, she said.
When Jackie Bay'sfirst marriage ended, money was a big battle. Her former spouse madesignificant purchases just before he suddenly left the marriage in 2001,she said. The breakup left her with a mortgage and new second mortgageshe could not afford.
Bay, 45, filed for bankruptcy protection asa result, she said. Her ex-husband confirmed he still owns thetwo-bedroom, one-bath cottage property but declined to comment further.
OnDec. 10, Bay celebrated her first anniversary with a second husband, aformer construction worker who is a full-time student at ITT TechnicalInstitute, where Bay works as an administrative assistant. He works oddjobs as a contractor.
Until he finds full-time employment upongraduation in June as a computer network specialist, Bay is paying theirbills from her own bank account. If he uses her bank debit card forhousehold expenses, they review receipts together. The husband'sspending money comes from a joint account they both deposit funds intoas needed.
"He has no money and no possessions. All he cares aboutis me. And we'll probably get along until he does start making money,"Bay said.
Keeping track of joint accounts is easier than ever withthe advent of electronic banking, Louisville divorce lawyer A. HollandHouston said. Engaged couples should even share credit scores, sheadded. The hard part, she said, is being willing to have candidconversations before tying the knot.
"If you are getting marriedand don't trust each other, why are you getting married?" Holland said."People have to know what the other person is doing, because they couldend up paying for it someday."
What is your money personality?
"Veryfew people feel neutral about money," said Louisville, Ky., therapistJohn K. Bell. "We each have clear values about how we view money and acouple must learn to be open and honest about those values andfeelings."
Couples can more easily talk about money if they identify common, and often unconscious, financial attitudes:
"MoneyAvoidance" beliefs contend that money is bad and prompt some people toshy away from reviewing bills or statements. People with this attitudemay have contempt for affluent people. These attitudes may sabotagefinancial success and promote compulsive shopping.
"MoneyVigilance" behaviors include being "alert, watchful and concerned aboutfinancial welfare." People with these beliefs eschew credit, pay cash,are leery of risk and may withhold financial information from lovedones.
People with "Money Status" attitudes "see net worth andself-worth as being synonymous," believe "poor people are lazy," andwill buy only new items. Compulsive spending can be a problem as theytry to give the impression of wealth.
"Money Worship" attitudes include the belief that "money is power," and "if you have money, someone will take it away from you."