A 2010 national survey uncovered a different kind of STD that couples must worry about. Turns out if you marry someone who has debt and doesn’t tell you about it, you may pay the price for years to come. Plus, if your spouse is financially promiscuous while you’re married, you may be on the hook to pay off your spouse’s secret spending. The even scarier part – many folks have “sexually transmitted debt” (a term trademarked by VSJ Enterprises) and don’t even know it.
A survey of 327 Americans, commissioned by CESI, found that 73% of married couples believe spending more than $100 without telling your spouse is unacceptable. The survey also found 79% of those married people are more willing to talk about their financial infidelity with a friend than with their spouse.
The recession has slowed the growth of secret spending, but it hasn’t stopped it. Currently, 71% of married couples say they have cut back on the amount of purchases they are hiding from their spouse. By a large margin, women (77%) are more likely to have cut back than men (54%).
“Sexually transmitted debt is a term our staff uses because we were getting calls from people who were not honest with their spouses about the debt they had racked up,” said Neil Ellington, Executive Vice President of CESI Debt Solutions. “Through the act of secret spending, or financial infidelity, debt is incurred that spouses can be legally responsible for, although the specifics vary from state to state. Bottom line, spouses can suffer the consequences of the other’s bad spending habits.”
• Financial Infidelity is Just As Bad as Sexual Infidelity. The latest survey revealed 30% of respondents think financial infidelity is just as bad as sexual infidelity; 70% thought sexual infidelity was worse…
• …But Love Still Prevails. Despite the financial infidelity, 60% of married couples say they would still forgive and buy their spouse a gift for Valentine’s Day or another special holiday.
What the Experts Say
Debt counselors at CESI say financial infidelity, or sexually transmitted debt, often leads to bigger problems. “Couples that won’t honestly talk to their partners about spending will open up to us because they feel safe. So, we often find that the people who keep even small purchases hidden from their spouse are suffering from bigger debt problems,” Ellington said. “There are some states where spouses are legally responsible for their spouses’ debt, whether or not it was incurred before or during their marriage. This inherited debt can be quite problematic on the health of a relationship. That’s why honesty and open communication about money has to be a priority in the relationship.”
The latest findings update a July 2010 survey on marriage and credit cards commissioned by CESI; that survey found that 80% of spouses spend money their spouse doesn’t know about. The breakdown of secret spending shows:
• 34.5% spent secretly on clothing and accessories
• 24% spent secretly on food/dining
• 19.5% spent secretly on beauty/personal care items
• 16.5% spent secretly on gifts
• 13% spent secretly on alcohol
• 9% spent secretly on entertainment
• 9.5% spent secretly on music/cd/mp3
• 8.5% spent secretly on childcare/items for children
More than 60% of married people didn’t talk about secret spending to avoid problems at home for the following reasons:
• 19.9% were concerned it would end the relationship
• 43% wished to avoid an argument
• 46% were paying off the debt and thought the spouse didn’t need to know
• 11% were planning to tell the spouse, but were not ready yet
• 27% were planning never to tell the spouse about the spending
The survey of married men and women of any sexual preference was conducted by a third party in January 2011.
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Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY