Special Report: Financial Bullying

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Does your spouse or live-in partner keep you from using your own credit cards? Do they make you feel guilty about your shopping habits? Do they make you show receipts for your purchases? If so, you could be in a relationship with a financial bully!  

It’s no secret that bullying is a serious problem. It comes in many shapes and forms. But would you know what questions to ask or where to go for help, if your significant other bullied you in order to control not only you… but your money? 

That’s what Maxine Brown had to find out for herself. For years, her husband controlled their cash and credit. In the beginning, she didn’t think anything about it.  

“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,” she says.

But after a few years, things began to change.  

“I had no access to money, whatsoever,” says Brown.

Before she knew it, Brown says her husband took over everything, including the groceries she bought and the amount of gas she put in her car.  

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

According to a survey on www.Creditkarma.com, Brown 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 all the time in relationships, but bullying is destructive.  

“I’ve seen several instances where the bully, who is generally a very insecure person, tries to snap their partner in the relationship by taking away all their power around money,” Sussman says.
So how do you recognize a financial bully? Sussman says it’s important to look out for warning signs, like: Your partner limits your spending or access to credit cards, or refuses to let you go shopping alone. But the biggest red flag according to Sussman is, “If you find yourself changing your behavior to please your partner, hiding things from your partner, doing things that you wouldn’t ordinarily do.”
Certified financial planner, Kathleen Sachs says something couples should ordinarily do is to 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,” she explains.

At risk because if something happens to your partner, or you split up, you’ll be at a huge financial disadvantage. Sachs says you should always know your financial basics, including: What bills are owed each month, how much debt you owe, and how to access the band and retirement accounts.  

Experts say if you don’t know the answers or feel like you’re being bullied… it’s time to 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 that doesn’t work, get out of the relationship,” says Sachs.

That’s what Brown did. She says now she controls her purse strings and values every cent.  

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

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

Click here to take a quiz to see if you’re dealing with a financial bully. 

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