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Consumer

Financial Bullying Can Hurt Your Relationship

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Does your spouse or live-in partner keep you from using your own credit cards, make you feel guilty about your shopping habits or make you show receipts for your purchases? If so, you could be in a relationship with a financial bully!

We aren’t talking about simply squabbling over finances. Experts say bullying is a serious problem.

Maxine Brown is thrilled to be in charge of her own credit and debit cards, her checking account, and her cash, because for years she had no access to money whatsoever.

Maxine said her husband controlled all their cash and credit. She said his money monitoring started slowly.

“When you get married, you add this person to your accounts. So that’s what I did.  And then he said, ‘I can do the banking for you’,” explained financial bullying victim Maxine Brown.

Eventually, she said her husband took over everything, including which groceries she bought, and the amount of gas in her car.

“When you control all of the money you really do control the movement of everyone in the household,” said Maxine.

A Credit Karma survey revealed Maxine is not alone. One in ten respondents classified their significant other as a “financial bully.”

Relationship Therapist Rachel Sussman, who consulted on the survey, said squabbling over money happens in many relationships, but bullying is destructive.

“I’ve seen several instances where the bully, who is generally a very insecure person, tries to trap their partner in the relationship by taking away all their power around money,” explained Sussman.

So how do you recognize a financial bully?

Sussman said it’s important to look out for warning signs which include your partner limiting your spending or your access to credit cards, or refusing to let you go shopping alone.

“If you find yourself changing your behavior to please your partner, hiding things from your partner, doing things that you wouldn’t ordinarily do,” that’s one of the biggest red flags, according to Sussman.

Certified Financial Planner Kathleen Sachs said something couples should ordinarily do is make sure they each have a good understanding of their money.

“If I say to you how is your financial health and you say to me, ‘I have no idea my spouse is in charge of that’, you have put yourself at risk,” explained Sachs.

You are risk, Sachs said, because if something happens to your partner, or you split up, you’ll be at a huge financial disadvantage.

Sachs warned to make sure you always know your financial basics, including: what bills are owed each month, how much debt you owe, and how to access the bank and retirement accounts.

Experts say if you don’t know the answers or feel like you’re being bullied, speak up.

“There’s a lot of power in communication and even saying to your partner, ‘I won’t take this anymore.’ You know, if that produces good results, great. If it doesn’t get some counseling and if, if that doesn’t work, get out of the relationship,” said Sussman.

That’s what Maxine did. She said now she controls her purse strings, and values every cent.

“I cannot walk past a coin on the street without picking it up.”

The Credit Karma survey also found the percentage of men and women who report being financially bullied is almost equal.

The organization created a quiz to help you determine if you’re dealing with a bully.

Click here for more information.

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