The Moneyist: ‘He implied he was financially secure’: My husband was always hesitant about his finances. Now I know why.

Dear Quentin,

My husband and I make about the same salary, and live modestly. Six months after we married, I found out my husband’s net worth is virtually zero. He owes more money than he has assets (approximately $40,000). My net worth is over $500,000. 

I only found out about his situation because we each own homes, and we are looking to buy one together and completed a mortgage application in preparation for pre-approval. My home is paid off and I have very little debt.

While we dated for five years, he implied he was financially secure. He was always hesitant about sharing actual numbers, and now I know why. I’m an accountant and — looking at the numbers — he is not solvent, even though he still claims he is. 

“‘If you are younger, and earn high six-figures, you have time and compound interest on your side.’”

About your five-year courtship and your now-husband’s reticence regarding his financial situation: One could argue that he lied by omission, but it’s also your responsibility to do your due diligence before signing a marriage contract. It’s a legal and financial merging of two lives.

Your husband’s desire to take the reins of your financial life gives me serious pause. Your No. 1 priority should be to keep the lion’s share of your assets separate. Anything you commingle in a joint bank account or even invest in a house that you purchase together automatically becomes marital/community property. 

One-third of people keep at least one financial secret from their partner — anything from credit-card debt, a secret bank account or a big-ticket purchase. That’s according to a recent poll by TD Bank. But one secret begets other secrets. It never happens in isolation.

When people hide their finances it’s either because, like you, they have a sizable nest egg and want to protect it or, like your husband, the cupboard is bare, and they wish to conceal that fact. Your husband, however, has a plan to improve his financial security, with your help.

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