In A Serious Relationship? Talk About Your Finances

By Tim Grant
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A 2016 study by the National Endowment for Financial Education showed 75 percent of couples who concealed information from one another saw negative consequences in the relationship, with 13 percent divorcing or separating.


On the day that financial advisers at PNC Wealth Management were set to meet with a married couple to discuss their account, the husband, who had been making a lot of withdrawals, showed up early and asked for a favor.

He wanted the advisers to tell his wife that the account had lost value over the past year due to market conditions. She didn’t know about the withdrawals he had made.

“It happened about 15 years ago. I was not involved, but an adviser who was involved said they told the man no. They needed to be open, honest and transparent about a joint account,” said Kevin Brubaker, an adviser with PNC Wealth Management in Pittsburgh.

“So the wife comes in and they go over everything,” he said. “She asked about the withdrawals. The husband fumbled around for some answers. She stayed calm, but I can imagine it was not a good car ride home.”

Brubaker said that a couple of years later the couple separated and eventually divorced.

While finances may not be the most romantic subject to discuss over an intimate dinner, financial advisers say it’s a conversation that should be had sooner rather than later.

Earlier this year, a Hoboken, N.J.-based company that matches college students with private student loan lenders surveyed 800 people who are married or in a self-described “significant relationship,” and found 23 percent of high-income individuals reported having a secret credit card or bank account.

“We found it interesting that the higher the income a couple has, the more likely one of them has a secret credit card or bank account,” said Dave Rathmanner, a vice president at LendEDU. He said his company conducts surveys on financial issues to help better understand links between money and human behavior.

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