Sunday, July 26, 2020

How to Hide the Money

Have you ever considered the best ways for you to hide money from your nearest and dearest?

No? Ah, just me then…

Actually, I should state at the outset that I looked into this as a purely hypothetical exercise. (Trust me, that horse has long since bolted.) Researching methods erring spouses use to hide away funds from their partners is something that may have entirely fictional relevance, but it’s an intriguing subject.

A recent survey by a credit card website discovered that twenty percent of Americans who are in a relationship admit to spending $500 or more without the knowledge of their partner. A smaller percentage even confess to holding hidden bank accounts or credit cards.

Scaling up the numbers from the sample the website questioned, this means that up to seven million people commit financial infidelity with their loved ones.

At one point, I would—and did—happily have joint bank accounts with my spouse. Around sixty-six percent of married couples do the same. I handled the business accounts and relied on my partner to handle the personal side, pay credit cards when they were due, and to warn me of any impending situation that might put us into debt.

Now, I’m slightly OCD about not accruing debt. I don’t owe anybody anything and intend to keep things that way. But I can appreciate how easy it is for one partner to bury their head in the sand, particularly during current times when employment in all kinds of fields is looking precarious and many have been on furlough at reduced pay. Just because income has gone down, that does not mean expenditure can be cut to match.

Sometimes, it’s purely a case of mismanagement. One partner can’t resist retail therapy in one form or another, and credit cards provide the means of instant gratification. It’s tempting to squint past the outrageous interest rate charged. Many people do not realise that when a credit card company offers a zero interest rate on balance transfers, either the fees charged for such a transaction or the existing balance will still be charged at the full rate—and those amounts will, of course, be the part of the debt paid off last.

But in other cases, things take a more deliberate edge. These are some of the ways I’ve discovered that some couples keep financial secrets from each other.

To begin with, if any of your income is derived in cash, then it’s all too easy to pocket some of it before it reaches home. Equally, paying for goods by card and asking for an additional sum as cash-back at the till also allows a private stash to be stealthily accrued. The resulting amounts will show on statements purely as spending at a particular store rather than as a cash withdrawal.

If you are salaried, then any new income, like a raise, can be diverted to a new bank account. I am told that the Human Resources departments of most large companies are able to split your pay and send it to different destinations if required. As long as you aren’t trying to avoid paying tax…

Speaking of which, I understand you can overpay your tax and have this excess refunded at a later date. I haven’t yet investigated if this is something only possible in America or if it applies to the UK as well. If so, then obviously you will be able to choose where this eventual refund is sent and what account it goes into.

Opening an online account accessed from an encrypted app allows one partner to open additional bank accounts without tell-tale statements or paperwork turning up at the marital address.

Equally, credit cards can usually be managed entirely online. I don’t think I’ve seen a paper statement for any of mine for some years. Although, as the name implies, this gives you only a line of credit, not a means of hiding assets or squirreling away money.

However, you can buy gift cards, load them up, then stash them in a safe deposit box or some other safe place.

Of course, if any of these shenanigans are discovered, you will still have to hand over the amount the courts decide upon when you reach your financial settlement. Perhaps, in that case, the only way to prevent your soon-to-be-ex from getting hold of their share of the loot is to spend it before they get the chance?

What anecdotes have you heard about the extremes warring couples have gone to in order to keep money out of their exes’ pockets? And does it simply end up all going in legal fees anyway?

This week’s Word of the Week is abibliophobia, which means the fear of running out of things to read.

My latest publication is CHARLIE FOX: THE EARLY YEARS, an eBoxset containing the first three complete books in the series featuring soldier-turned-bodyguard Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox, back when she was still a self-defence instructor with a motorbike and an attitude. Find out where it all began…
With Foreword by Lee Child

He thought she was an easy target. He was wrong.

Charlie was no good at being the nice girl her parents wanted, so she joined the British Army and acquired a whole new set of skills. And just when she thought she’d found her calling, she was dishonoured, disgraced, discharged.

Now she puts those painful, hard-won lessons to good use, teaching self-defence to battered women. When her work brings her to the attention of a vicious rapist, will those skills be enough to save her—and those she cares about most?

Fear kept people down. Until she helped them make a stand.

Charlie is supposed to be dog-sitting for a friend, not leading the resistance, but what’s a girl to do when the woman’s housing estate turns into an urban battlefield?

With her motorbike on hand and a big dog by her side, Charlie is more than able to take care of herself, until a ghost from her Army past comes calling.
Someone she was trying very hard to forget…

The British Army let her go. Big mistake.

Charlie didn’t really care who shot dead her ex-army comrade during a bodyguard training course in Germany. But when old flame Sean Meyer asks her to go undercover at the elite school and find out what happened, she just can’t refuse.

Keeping her nerve isn’t easy as events bring back fears and memories she’s doing her damnedest to overcome. And trying to blend in by playing down her abilities proves a real challenge.

She expected training to be tough, but will she graduate from this school of hard knocks alive?

Available in all territories except North America.
ISBN: 979-1-909344-53-2


  1. Viva, Charlie!
    On the subject of financial marital infidelity, the two cases I have heard of recently involved deceased husbands, both of whom had complete charge of the family finances. After they deceased, their widows were surprised that they had either a bank account they used to give money to children from a previous marriage OR had made loans that left the widow with far less to keep her going than she expected. A serious emotional as well a financial hurt. Cheating!!

  2. I know the worst story that happened to a friend. She gave her spouse the rent and utility checks (or funds) to pay and other bills. One day he left her a message saying good-bye. He had run up her credit card charges to thousands of dollars. He hadn't paid the rent or utility bills in months. He had kept the money. She was left with thousands of dollars in bills to pay. She had to negotiate with the landlord, go to court about the credit card bills, which she had to pay, etc.
    She knew nothing about what he was doing until after he left. She was gobsmacked.
    I knew this guy pretty well. I thought something was wrong when I reimbursed him for an expensse she had paid for me and she never got the funds.
    So the guy disappeared. No mention of him online, no Facebook or Twitter pages. He just vanished. So she had the emotional trauma and the financial trauma.

  3. Kathy, that story is a perfect first chapter of a thriller.

  4. My on my, you're taking me down memory lane into to the "matrimonial lawyer" part of my legal career. Oh the things I have seen. Let's just say that highly complex efforts are made to devalue or "hide" assets--such as transferring ownership of grossly undervalued assets to a third party in exchange for questionable assets, in order to depress net worth. Then, after the divorce, the transaction is reversed. Think of it this way. For most individuals divorce represents the most significant financial "transaction" in their lives...and how they choose to address can bring out the very worst in human behavior.

  5. My first husband was utterly financially immature, I never let him have the reins of the finances. So, he just slept around instead.
    My second was better with money, but liked to spend on his "hobbies" which meant I found huge quantities of hoarded stuff after he died. Railway models, maritime books, - he did earn his own keep and encouraged me to spend for the business. Now, I find I have money in hand, hmmm
    Gift cards have a finite (and rather short) life, so stashing these is perhaps not such a good plan...