Dear Dave: I’ve never hidden debt from my husband, but I do hide money from him on occasion. I don’t hide it for my personal use, but I have been setting money aside for emergencies without his knowledge. He’s not terrible with money, and he works very hard, but he always seems to find something to spend it on. We were never able to save much of anything before I started doing this, but recently I’ve begun to feel bad about doing it. Can you give me some advice?
Dear Penny: I’m glad you seem to be rethinking this strategy. I believe in saving up for emergencies and having an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses in place. But deception in any form is never a positive thing in a relationship — especially a marriage.
I know it won’t be easy, but you have to let him know what you’ve been doing. You also need to make sure you tell him in the right way. Even though your intentions may have been good — getting into better financial shape — you’ve deceived him by doing it the way you did.
Make some time for just the two of you. Sit down with him, and let him know what has happened and that you’re sorry for not being completely honest about it all. Explain that the reason you hid the money was that you didn’t want to speak up about how it was being handled in your marriage. Ask him to forgive you, and let him know you won’t do it again, but explain, too, how important it is that the two of you work together on saving more, spending less and getting control of your finances.
Managing money in a marriage is a “we” thing. Decisions should always be made — here’s that word again — together. It means you each have a vote, and it also means you should stand up and vote “no” if he wants to spend money on something silly when you don’t have your financial house in order!