Lying about money: The real reason spouses hide purchases from each other

Could your partner be hiding expensive purchases or mountains of debt from you? Here's how to deal.

Why couples lie about spending money
Everyone knows someone who lies about money or hides purchases from his or her spouse. A recent survey conducted by Credit Canada and Capital One shows that 31 per cent of women and 27 per cent of men say they have lied to their partner about how much they have spent on a purchase.

Men and women are equal-opportunity overspenders
"There is a stereotype that the overspender in a relationship is more often the woman then the man," says Katie Dunsworth, co-author of The Smart Cookies' Guide to Couples Money. "A University of Pennsylvania study found that the average man spends $1,800 a year [on shopping purchases] where women spend just over $1,000," says Dunsworth. "Men also spend more in entertainment, spending in areas like electronics, dating, sports and alcohol. Women are categorized more as shoppers and less likely to spend as much on big-ticket purchases," she adds.

Surprise, surprise
"We have often seen one person come in for counseling and their spouse or partner has no ideas about the debts they have incurred," says Credit Canada executive director and credit counsellor Laurie Campbell. Not only have they hidden it from their spouse, she says, they are not looking for solutions to resolve the problem.

Why spouses lie about money
Spouses generally lie about purchases to avoid arguments, Campbell says. "Some feel that if their spouse found out about purchases they would belittle them and tell them they aren't good money managers. There is a real fear of rejection and inadequacy, and this causes spouses to lie. There is also fear of repercussion. One lady, for example, said that if her husband ever knew about how she had spent money, he would divorce her. So the fear is real," says Campbell, who sees these scenarios in her practice as a counselor for the nonprofit agency Credit Canada.

Page 1 of 2 – On page 2, learn how to resolve the spend-hide-lie cycle as a couple.

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