Family Features

Thursday 31 July 2014

Is it ever okay to hide spending from your partner?

According to a new survey, thousands of us are doing the dirty on our partners – and there's a one in seven chance you're at it too.

Chrissie Russell & Heidi Scrimgeour

Published 23/06/2014|02:30

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Young man sitting on armchair looking away while girlfriend looking herself in mirror
Young man sitting on armchair looking away while girlfriend looking herself in mirror

Get ready to feel guilty because, according to a new survey, thousands of us are doing the dirty on our partners – and there's a one in seven chance you're at it too.

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Yes says Chrissie Russell

We're not talking illicit trysts with a secret lover, it turns out we're all 'financial cheaters', sneaking round the shops and lying about the price tags to our unwitting husbands and boyfriends.

According to a poll carried out by Confused.com, not only do one in seven of us lie about our spending habits, but 10pc go even further and hide all evidence after a shopping spree.

The research by the insurance comparison website revealed that one in five people in a relationship keeps their spending secret because they're ashamed, while 30pc believed keeping schtum was the best way to avoid an argument with their partner.

The findings also showed that women were far more likely to be economical with the truth about their spending, a revelation that doesn't shock me in the least – because I'm one of them.

I may be 'guilty' of financial cheating, but I feel absolutely no pangs of conscience for not reporting my spending habits to my husband.

But it's not for the reasons you might think. I don't suffer buyer's remorse and I don't binge on designer labels. I don't have a passion for high end fashions or luxury beauty products ... he does.

I rarely hit the shops but, when I do, I'm prone to bulk buy, perhaps two or three tops from Oasis or Topshop, a necklace from Zara, some leggings from Penny's, undies from M&S ...

My purse will ultimately be several hundred euro lighter, but I'll be staggering home with enough clobber to see me through to the end of the year.

Unfortunately, if hubby gets wind of my shopping spree, he'll take it as a green light to follow suit, except his snobbish shopping tastes will see him make a beeline for the designer rails and Clarins counter at Brown Thomas, spending several times more on a fraction of the number of items.

"Why can you spend money on clothes, but I can't?" he'll lament, caressing his newly purchased pricey togs, while I try in vain (again) to explain that my trousers from Dunnes aren't comparable with his Ted Baker chinos.

It's just easier not to let on.

I'm aware that it's a double standard – I can monitor his spending but he can't have a say in mine. But frankly there's only one of us who's liable to go out and blow €175 on designer shoes and to my mind, that's the one that needs watching.

When it comes to the finances in our relationship, I'm the more prudent one. If I treat myself to a few new tops, it's because I've already budgeted out the food shops, bought the boring things like washing powder and floor cleaner and paid the TV licence.

My husband is more of a 'see it, want it, buy it, live in the moment' kind of guy and, since we're supposed to be saving for a house at the moment, it's best if I lead by thrifty example ... even if every so often that frugal front hides a bit of harmless secret spending.

I know plenty of friends who don't share their spending habits with their partners simply because they don't feel it's any of their business. Having earned their own money, it's their business what they spend it on – and it's a fair point.

Also, on an even more basic level, I'd have to say most guys don't care.

So long as neither person in the relationship is splurging out of hand, then I don't think there's any need for all the receipts to be laid out on the table. But while I keep living with a man with expensive tastes, I maintain that the best way to keep his spending in check is by keeping my own under wraps.

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NO says Heidi Scrimgeour

Have I ever lied to my husband about my spending? Of course not. Why would I? Last time I checked being married meant sharing my life with my partner – impulse purchases and all – not surreptitiously trying to cover up the awkward bits.

Yet, a survey of 1,000 women conducted last month revealed that a remarkable number of them are willing to lie to their partners about how much they spend on a new pair of shoes or other accessory.

Presumably shame keeps some women from 'fessing up about how much they've forked out, but even though my husband and I have had a joint bank account since we got married almost 16 years ago, I've never felt I have to account to my husband for how I spend our cash. If I did, the occasional bit of furtive spending would be the least of our problems; I'd be siphoning off hoards of cash from our bank account to furnish a much-needed secret running away fund.

I jest of course but come on ladies, no woman in this day and age should be in a relationship in which she feels the need to lie about how she spends money.

What really troubles me isn't lying about spending but the thought of being with someone whose reactions might routinely make you feel the need to fib. Hang on a minute, there's an ear-splitting noise distracting me from writing this – let me see what it is ... oh, that's right, dirty great alarm bells ringing.

The same study found that lying about spending is one of the most off-putting traits in a partner. Only poor personal hygiene and infidelity rank higher on the list of loathsome qualities in a would-be suitor.

I understand that being cagey about your cashflow might stem from the desire to avoid an argument, since money tops the list of things that couples regularly row about. But where do you draw the line if you do justify a bit of secret spending? And where does it end? Today you're hiding an extra pair of shoes that you don't really need, but tomorrow you could be hushing up a bit of flirting with that dishy bloke in accounts who you're starting to go to lunch with once too often.

Frankly, a relationship in which either spouse feels the need to tell lies – even lies of omission, which can be the most dangerous kind – isn't a partnership I want any part of.

The only 'good' reasons I can think of for lying to your mate about your money is because you're in the grip of an addiction, or because your partner is a prat and prone to treat you in a way that you'll stoop to deception to avoid. The solution to both problems is the same: get professional help, and fast.

I'm overstating the point, of course, but hiding your spending habits from your partner surely strikes a deadly blow to the heart of a relationship.

Presumably, the underlying reason for hiding your shopping bags is the knowledge that the family finances can't comfortably stretch to your expenditure.,

That's not an ideal scenario but catch yourself on – lying to your partner is much worse than doing some ill-considered damage to the credit card. Lying about your spending is storing up trouble for the future and creating a financial illusion that cannot last.

There's a reason why you're not supposed to keep secrets from your other half – secrecy is the enemy of intimacy.

Call me an alarmist, but I firmly believe that a habit that starts with furtive spending on fripperies could easily end in stolen kisses and infidelity. Consider that the next time you're smuggling another handbag into the house under cover of darkness.

Irish Independent

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