Secret Spenders Deserve a Special Place in Financial Hell

December 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Marriage and Money

CNN/Money managed to get 6 people to confess/boast about their talents for “secret spending.” I wonder what their spouses are thinking right now. I know what I would be thinking if I were that spouse: What is more pathetic about my spouse – secretly over-shopping or outing yourself on the Internet?

Let’s first look at the numbers. Five of the six secret spenders were women. Four of them engaged in vanity over-spending, i.e., shoes, clothes, and beauty treatments. One secret spender was a guy, who bought a lot of meat for his competitive cooking hobby.

That sounds about right to me – women feed their vanity, guys feed their hobbies. (Yes, this is a generalization but I challenge you to take a walk around the mall and observe who’s doing the shopping and where.)

I finally learned over 33 years of marriage that your spouse needs to be able to buy whatever stuff she wants but not secretly and therefore within spending or allowance boundaries set jointly by the couple. That’s not what the morons in this article have done. The serial shoe buyers in the article admit to their “over-shopping” problem but apparently see no need to curb it. One of them even involves her mother in the scheming. That momma needs her own space in “I’m an enabler” hell.

I would be interested in statistics that relate chronic secret-spending to the long term survival rates of the affected marriages. I’m speculating that there is a negative correlation.

Here is a link to the article: Im a secret spender

Your thoughts?

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5 Responses to “Secret Spenders Deserve a Special Place in Financial Hell”
  1. Paul says:

    The whole lot of them, they deserve each other. Reminds of a bunch of Orange County types. Lying and sneaking around, posturing to have the best.

    CNN-Money continues to stoop low by offering up idiots like these that aren’t smart enough to be ashamed of their financial behavior, let alone be featured for this article.

  2. Holly says:

    I haven’t read the article yet, but I know that some of my relatives are likely ‘secret spenders’. I have a natural aversion to spending (at least on myself!), but I am glad that I have a husband who normally wouldn’t question my judgment (because we have an unspoken trust that the other would not want to wreak havoc on the finances).

  3. Ed says:

    Sounds like you are talking about my girlfriend. She’s one of those who wants everything she sees and loves to spend money on shoes, clothes and cosmetics. I however on the other hand do spend alittle money on my hobby fishing. Eventhough my girlfriend loves to shop, she also knows how it is to put us in a binned from all of her spending. Good post by the way.

  4. Bekki says:

    My mother-in-law was a secret shopper. When I married my husband, I was the one who ended up picking up our mail from the PO box. He let me know that once a month, a credit card would come in his mothers name, and never, ever to mention anything about it to his father. MIL had a credit card that FIL knew nothing about, and to keep the secret, she had the bill sent to her son’s address so that he could give it to her in secret.

    My husband was sick to his stomach every month that the bill came. He had a very unique and dysfunctional relationship with his parents and couldn’t so easily tell her no (at least, he didn’t think so).

    She also liked to spend freely out of the checking account. She went to the mall sveral times a week and bought a ot of items online – most of which never even made it out of the box.

    When she died, FIL discovered the mountain of credit card debt that he didn’t even know existed. I was with him when he went into the camper only to find it stuffed full (and I mean full) of boxes that had been ordered from the internet.

    My mother-in-law suffered from a sickness brought on by an abusive childhood, but the damage to their marriage as a result of all of this spending was irrepairable. I was at their house the day that FIL found all of the credit card bills and had them all laid out on the table. This normally tough, stoic man collapsed in my arms and sobbed. Not only had he lost his wife to cancer a few days prior, but he had just learned that he was the proud new wner of tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt… at age 57, with no retirement savings.

    Some of the women in this article think they’re so cute, spending money behind their husbands backs for shoes and facials and other such pretty things. It’s not cute, it’s disgustingly juvenile and the ultimate betrayal of trust – second only to infidelity.

    My mother-in-law never wanted to cause her husband such heartache and grief, but she did, anyway. These people have to stop thinking of themselves and start focusing on their marriages.

    I wonder what these people would think to know that at any given time, something tragic could happen, and they would leave their spouse with that kind of burden… with no time to explain, or apologize. Is that really the message they want to send to their spouses after death? I didn’t respect you enough? What a way to leave things.

  5. Carol says:

    I read the article and my story puts the article to shame. My husband was an extreme secret shopper. This is an illness just like drinking, gambling etc. We had been married for 20 plus years and had always discussed or told each other about every purchase over $50.00 that we were considering. We were both highly compensated corp executives. I traveled 90 % of the time for work. I flew home one Friday morning and my husband wanted to go to lunch. He showed me a resignation letter that he had presented to the board of directors that morning. He also had the pink slip for a brand new motorcoach that he had purchased with the liquidation of his 401k, IRA’s and our joint stock portfolio, along with a brand new car on a custom trailer to pull behind the motorcoach. He informed me that I was to support him for the rest of his life. He then left to drive to FL to pick up the motor coach, as it was having a custom electronic package installed. He then charged his way around America to the tune of 8k a month. I was left to pick up the pieces and was shocked to find the closet in his office has a secret storage area in the atic. He had 18 custom fly rods, numerous handguns, 135 Patagonia jackets, 85 backpacks and in each pack he had either a swiss army knife or a leatherman. I liquidated everything, sold the condo and wound up leaving my dream big bucks job to follow him to the west coast and do day to day damage control over the situation. He refused any type of psyc eval, every close friend tried to reason with him. All attempts to get him into therapy failed plus I was left with a tax liability of 300k to the IRS. He also did not take into account the 10% penality and the capital gains was figured at 38%. I spoke to numerous tax accountants, tax attornes and a former regional director for the IRS. This was before the stupid spouse act. All of these professionals told me that I had no option except to pay the tax liability. We lived for several years with me working two sales jobs. At one point he was on a trip with a friend (who was to monitor all of his spending). I thought he was fine, then I went to the mailbox store to get the mail, the owner also gave me mail from a second mailbox that I knew nothing about. My husband was gone for two months on this trip and I was shocked when I added the total of all of the credit card bills that I knew nothing about. This secret shopping had been going on for two years. 50 thousand dollars worth. At that point I left with what was left of my 401k that had been ravaged by paying off the IRS and state taxes. And yes, every account was a joint account so I was financially accountable. This was a long time ago before the term secret shopper or shopping addiction had become a known phrase. I praise Money for article and bringing this illness to light. I understand that my ex is still spending, only wife number two does not have a 401k, investment account or high paying job to support this. I truly feel sorry for her as without treatment he will never change. I am willing to bet that the divorce rate of those who accumulate large secret shopping debit is close to 100%.

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