Pinings — Advice by Sherry Hughes

Keeping Things Secret

Dear Pinings,

What do you think about keeping things secret in relationshipsówhen it really wouldnít make any difference if the other person knew?  I tell my boyfriend everything, for the most part. Weíve been a couple for six years and will probably get engaged in the next year. We have lived together for the last four years. The only thing Iíve kept from him is that I have some money put away for a ďrainy dayĒóabout $12,000. My grandmother left a lot of it to me when she died and Iíve added to it as often as I could.

I donít have any plans for the money; itís kind of a safety net for me. He and I share all of our billsó and we split everything down the middle. We also have a joint savings account (for vacations, big purchases) but we donít keep much in there for long.

I donít feel as if I have to tell him, but my mother thinks I should, particularly if we plan on marrying some day. She says that Iím keeping a secret and we should be completely open with each other.

What do you say?

- Emily

Dear Emily,

I think you are going to have a fabulous rainy day some day.

You donít say if you have any reason to distrust your beau, so Iím going to assume that the reason you are keeping this from him doesnít have anything to do with him being oh, say, a convicted felon or a serial bigamist. That being said, you have the right to keep your nest egg private, if you want to. For now. When you get engaged, and start planning your wedding, you are probably going to want to tell him. I say that because it is a secret, but not a secret like a part-time female lover or a shoplifting habit. This is what I would call a good secret. Youíve managed to build up a nest egg and you can feel a certain amount of independence and security because of it.

Check out with a financial advisor what may happen to that money if you and he divorced or if anything happened to you (god forbid). I canít say for sure, but Iím going to guess that the money will go to your husband, at least part of it, unless you have a prenuptial agreement.

Hereís the thing to remember: we should feel good about our partnerís security. If you can handle all of your financial obligations with him and still save on your own, I say go for it. Be clear with him that this money isnít money to be used for a down payment on a house or on your wedding, that itís money you want to leave untouched. And you might encourage him to do the same if he can.

I highly recommend that the two of you go to a financial adviser and lay all of your financial cards on the table before you marry. It will give you a good sense of where you might need to do some work, what you are good at, how your financial goals jibe and how they donít and it is also a good time to be very up front and honest about everything related to money.

Sherry Hughes welcomes letters from readers. Reach her at


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