More Couples Arguing About Money, Sneaking Purchases

By Christina Cheddar Berk,

Couples are bickering more about household finances than they did a year ago, according to a recent study. And it's possible the threat of an argument is prompting some of these couples to sneak purchases, sock money away in a secret bank account, or keep a credit card account hidden from their spouse or significant other, according to the study of 2,020 consumers, which was conducted by American Express.

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Most couples-some 61 percent-admit that discussions about the household budget are turning into arguments. That's significantly higher than what the survey said a year ago, when 45 percent of people admitted this.

It's hard to say whether this a positive or negative sign for the economy. One could speculate either way-either seeing it as a sign of more financial stress or as a sign that consumers have more money to spend, and therefore more choices to make about how to spend it.

Notably, the trend holds up even among the most affluent responders, with 56 percent saying they argue with their sweetie this year, versus 44 percent in 2010.

"I do think that there are certainly signs of stress," said Leah Gerstner, vice president of public affairs at American Express.

She noted that many consumers are in a rebuilding mode, after the impact the financial crisis and recession had on their finances.

"They are rebuilding their nest egg," she said. "They are saving to do the things they want to do."

Another interesting tidbit is one in five women who are in a relationship admit to hiding purchases from their partner.

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