Pop quiz: Members of what generation are most likely to hide a credit card or bank account from their partners?
Would it be those tech-savvy, selfie-taking, entitled, narcissistic millennials?
No? How about those cynical, skeptical, pessimistic Gen Xers?
No and no. It’s actually those sneaky, sneaky baby boomers.
Older baby boomers are nearly four times as likely as millennials to have a secret credit card or bank account, according to a new survey commissioned by CreditCards.com.
Of older boomers — those ages 63 to 71 — 11% have hidden an account or card from their spouse, partner or significant other. Comparatively, only 3% of millennials and members of the “silent generation” — people in their 70s and 80s — say they’ve hidden an account. Meanwhile, 5% of Gen Xers admit it.
“Keeping secrets in your relationships is never a good idea,” said Matt Schulz, industry analyst at CreditCards.com. “Like any indiscretion, what starts out small tends to build. Spending $25 without consulting your partner may seem incidental, but when those purchases become more frequent or if the amount grows, it can wreak havoc on your accounts and your budget.”
Of course, maybe baby boomers are simply more likely to hide money because baby boomers have all the money. Seriously, they have all the money. They’re the wealthiest generation ever, and they’re getting wealthier.
(Not that we’re bitter or anything. Nooooo, not at all. We are above such petty concerns.)
But those fine, upstanding, selfless souls at CreditCards.com have another point to make with their survey results.
It’s about honesty. It’s about how financial infidelity hurts a relationship. It’s about being honest and open with the person you share your life with.
No matter your age, keeping significant secrets, like a hidden stash of cash, can strain your relationship, family therapist Corey Allan told CreditCards.com. His advice: Go beyond just a one-time conversation about money before you get serious with someone. Instead, keep up an ongoing discussion of finances and priorities — maybe even monthly, as all those bills keep pouring in.
In the survey, 1 out of 20 people said they were in a serious relationship and had concealed the existence of a credit card or bank account from their partner. If you extrapolate that to the entire adult population in the U.S., it works out to 12 million Americans with secret accounts.
One final thought: You can run, but you can’t hide.
“Any time you get into these kinds of things where you are operating behind the scenes, it usually comes out at some point,” Allan says. “We can’t keep things hidden, especially in today’s technological world. Any spouse who has any kind of suspicion can become a detective and find it.”
Your Turn: Have you ever hidden a credit card or bank account?
Mike Brassfield (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Full disclosure: He’s a broke Gen Xer with zero secret bank accounts.