Financial Bullying a Problem

Couples argue over finances, but how many Americans feel their mate bullies them over their debt and spending habits? Credit Karma, a personal finance website with more than 20 million members, commissioned Harris Interactive to find out.

The online survey, conducted in June 2013, revealed that committed American adults are generally on good financial terms with their spouse or partner. But one in 10 classified their spouse or live-in partner as a “financial bully.”

Younger generations report feeling financially bullied more than their older counterparts:

  • Those aged 18 to 34 are three times more likely to say they are financially bullied than those aged 55 or older (19 percent vs. 6 percent).
  • Those with children under the age of 18 in the household are more likely to classify their mate as a bully than those who don’t live with children (18 percent vs. 7 percent).
  • Sadly, 22 percent of married 18-to 34-year-olds said they would get a divorce “if money were no object.”

When it comes to gender, the percentage of men and women who report being financial bullied is almost equal, though men aged 18-34 are more likely to say they’re bullied than their female counterparts (33 percent vs. 7 percent).

Credit Karma asked victims about the tactics their financial bully uses to intimidate or control them:

  • Makes me feel guilty for my shopping habits: 37 percent
  • Limits my monthly spending: 34 percent
  • Makes me show receipts for all purchases: 20 percent
  • Gives me an allowance / limits my spending: 18 percent
  • Keeps me from having credit cards: 17 percent
  • Doesn’t let me go shopping by myself: 11 percent
  • Forces me to use coupons: 8 percent

“The survey results are very sad for these couples,” says Rachel Sussman, LCSW, a relationship expert and therapist working with Credit Karma. “Financial bullying is an indicator of a lack of trust. Open communication and honesty need to be the foundation of all healthy relationships.”

Not surprisingly, a similar number of spouses and live-in partners (13 percent) admitted to lying about their spending habits to their partners. Men were significantly more likely to admit to this (17 percent vs. 10 percent).

Ken Lin – Credit Karma’s CEO and Chief Consumer Advocate – says couples could benefit from using Credit Karma’s financial dashboard.

“When partners lie or hide money concerns from one another, it can have a major impact on their financial future,” says Lin. “Many big financial decisions, like applying for a mortgage or saving for a child’s education, are made more easily with transparency and communication. A resource like Credit Karma can provide a comprehensive picture of an individual’s financial health, empowering those in a relationship to take control of their finances.”

To learn more about financial bullying, visit this site. Consumers can take a quiz to determine if their partner exhibits the qualities of a financial bully, and receive relationship advice and financial tips.


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