Married partners are expected to share everything -- including finances -- but about 15 percent of Americans report keeping secret bank accounts from their spouses, according to a December 2010 survey conducted for the National Endowment for Financial Education. You may want to hide money because you are in an abusive relationship, your spouse has a gambling or spending problem, or you see secret funds as necessary for your independence. Whatever the reason, there are a few legal ways to keep money hidden from your husband or wife.
Accumulate untraceable money by saving up cash. Collect money you made through tips or odd jobs that pay in cash. If your spouse is not involved in grocery shopping, withdraw money at a grocery store that offers cash back, suggests financial planner Robert Pagliarini in "10 Easy Ways to Hide Assets From Your Spouse" for the website Daily Finance. Your bank statement will show the total amount spent but will not separate the total spent on groceries from the cash back amount. Only withdraw small amounts each time, so you won't tip off your spouse.
Find a good hiding place. Store the cash in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box kept at a bank your spouse does not use.
Get the help of a trusted friend or family member. If there is someone you can confide in, be open with them about what you are keeping from your spouse. Leave them with instructions on what to do with the money if something happens to you. Your friend may also be willing to hold the money for you in his account or at his house.
Open a separate bank account for yourself. Go to a bank where your spouse does not have an account. When opening an account, opt not to get bank statements sent to your house. Check statements online or get them sent to a friend's or work address. When doing online banking at home, open a secret tab or browser in "incognito mode" to avoid the site visit being recorded on your viewing history. Alternatively, clear that site from your browser history immediately after.
Create a PayPal account and hide it from your spouse. Set up an account as another way to store money, financial commentator and journalist David Koch and his wife, Libby Koch, suggest in "How to Keep a Secret Bank Account" for the News Corp Australia Network. See if you can arrange to receive payment from employers or get money sent from friends who also have accounts.
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- National Endowment for Financial Education: Americans Committing Financial Infidelity
- Forbes: Divorcing Women: Here’s Where Husbands Typically Hide Assets
- Daily Finance: 10 Easy Ways to Hide Assets From Your Spouse
- Forbes: Pros and Cons of Keeping a Secret Fund in Case You Divorce
- News.com.au: How to keep a secret bank account
- It's illegal to lie about the amount of money that you have during a divorce. If you are caught hiding large amounts of money from your spouse in the divorce process, you could be charged with dissipation of marital assets, warns divorce financial strategist Jeff Landers in the Forbes article "Pros and Cons of Keeping a Secret Fund in Case You Divorce." Be aware of how your spouse may be able to use this against you during a divorce.
- If you have no intention of leaving your spouse, getting caught hiding money could bring up some trust issues in your marriage.
- If leaving large amounts money in the care of another person, be prepared for the possibility that the money may not be safe with him. Only leave money with someone you truly trust.
Sarah Casimong is a Vancouver-based writer with a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She writes articles on relationships, entertainment and health. Her work can be found in the "Vancouver Observer", "Her Campus" and "Cave Magazine".