What’s Your Financial Secret?

You’re hiding something…

That secret recording, your secret recipe, your secret crush, or your secret talent! Everyone has a secret. Even in money matters. In fact, only a few people would really know your actual money records, spending habits, or financial history – and for sure there are one or two financial matters that you have been keeping to yourself… unknown even to your life partner. You probably had a spending or credit memory you’ve been wanting to forget; unfortunately, for money matters ‘past is past’ doesn’t really apply entirely.

When was the last time you asked your partner about his spending history or give him or her feedback about his or her apparent money habits? Probably a long time ago if not never. According to the book Get Financially Naked, How to Talk Money with your Honey by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar, money is one of top causes of arguments in marriages, top reasons for divorce, and top drivers for general life stress. Generally, men have fairly different spending habits vs women – and I’m sure a lot of women would agree, with their heads nodding. It is usually from illogical and tactless spending behaviour and money habits that most of our financial mishaps or failures root, subsequently giving birth to financial secrets.

But what are the common money matters we keep from people around us, even to our partners. Here’s an interesting list of the money secrets based from our interviews.

Closed Card

You were probably young, and wild, and free back then when spending through a credit card was hyped. It started when you’ve established quite an impressive credit or salary record enough for you to qualify for a credit card. Whether you applied for it, or it was just delivered straight to your house or office address, this ultra-powerful plastic card was once on the hand of the wrong person – you! Thinking it was a bottomless gift from the skies, you’ve probably made uncontrolled and unnecessary purchases. Just amazing! In the beginning, the bills look really small, and they don’t even move a fingernail. But time and persistent bad habits are not the best of friends. Despite making payments, your credit card bills do not seem to be affected, and they just continue to be tougher than you were back when you’re almightily spending. Then, powerless, these card bills take over your regular spending habits and your usual utility bills have then multiplied with the card company’s contribution to the pie.

Needless to say, a good chunk of credit card users who have lost control over their expenses and have been overpowered by the plastics have sunk into the deep irresponsible card usage trap, resulting to debts with continuously growing interest rates and penalty charges. A few have been trying to forget this sad experience, but I bet they never did.

Midnight Purchases

This pertains to your purchases which are unknown to others even to your better half, probably because it was purely unnecessary, irrational, illogical, or even illegal. For instance, boys and husbands purchase gems, diamonds, and/or steam for their online games – while some may be unfamiliar with these, guys, especially gamers, would know these and would have probably had the experience purchasing them at some point in time to advance in whatever game they play. Of course, these can be considered unnecessary, especially when you are in a tight budget. Extravagant shoes or bags which you do not really wear or use could also belong to this section.

Deadly Debt Cycle

Have you ever borrowed money or applied for a loan to pay another loan or a credit card bill? Of course, you have! With or from a relative, a friend, a neighbour, or an actual financial institution, you could have attempted to resolve debts through consolidation. Going for debt consolidation through a cash loan is not a bad route at all, by the way. But in essence, if not properly calculated and assessed, your debt consolidation attempt could lead to more difficult circumstances and further financial struggles.

The short-term sporadic survival within the debt cycle is truly relieving, but may also just be keeping you in the gloomy zone longer than you should have, had you exerted enough effort to pull yourself out of this financially deadly situation. There are institutions out there who can help – but a trusted friend or family member can absolutely help you make the first step in ending the cycle, through their support and your sincere efforts.

Bamboo Bank

Heard about our kababayan who made a piggy bank out of a bamboo tube? In case you do not know the end of the story, all the paper denominations were destroyed by weevils. The insects almost powderized all the cash inside the bamboo coinbank. Good thing he was able to salvage a few and had those replaced in a government institution with the help of a television program team.

Many of us have a secret piggy bank slot or spot at home or in our cars. Be it in the window, under the bed mattress, somewhere in the kitchen, or any place where no one would probably guess money would be placed in. Unfortunately, in many occasions too, we tend to forget where the actual spot was. Sounds family? But beyond forgetting the actual spot where your money was placed, these money sitting somewhere and not saved in the bank or used in any type of investment, are considered underutilized and may actually come out with a diminished value later, partly impacted by inflation and other factors. Your five thousand pesos today might only retain 98% of its purchasing power in the future. Frozen money do not really aid in the economy as well, without circulating in the communities.

But don’t get me wrong – short term saving in piggy banks is good and the habit is definitely encouraged, but saving in banks and investing are particularly better options, especially long term.

Awareness is golden, and so it is highly recommended that you realize your money secrets, revisit your purposes, and review the impact of those to you, your life, and your family and friends. Reveal these secrets to your dearest friend or spouse to seek for support or help. Remember, in many major decisions in life affecting people around you, your financial standing, capability, and habits are of importance. Without facts on actual state, yours or other people’s decision may be pessimistically impacted. The truth hurts, but it will set you free. And with freedom comes peace, and peace contributes to better decision-making.

Secrets do not necessarily mean problems. They just have to surface not just to our conscious mind, but to our financially literate self, as well, to be improved or be addressed in the right manner – because, again, in money matters, ‘past is past’ doesn’t always apply.

For questions or comments regarding this article, please email cpguanzon@gdfi.ph.