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Is your Valentine keeping financial secrets?

Speaking frankly and openly about finances can protect

Speaking frankly and openly about finances can protect a couple, and family, from debt and heartache, experts say. Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

With Valentine’s Day just days away, love is in the air. But your sweetie may be keeping a secret, and not about a lover.

In a survey, 6 percent of those polled had a bank account or credit card their spouse or partner didn’t know about, and 20 percent spent $500 or more on a purchase without their knowledge.

What are signs of financial infidelity? “If your partner doesn’t want to do financial planning, which requires creating a cash flow that would uncover spending habits,” says JJ Burns, president of JJ Burns & Co. in Melville.

Also, if brokerage or other accounts get retitled from joint to sole owner accounts, or one partner makes large ATM withdrawals and can never substantiate where the cash went, be wary, warns Jeff Sklar, a CPA with Sklar Heyman Hirshfield & Kantor in Bellmore.

“I ask my clients to sit down together and write down how much they are both earning, how much money is coming in versus going out, and how much they are spending on essentials and nonessentials,” says Leslie Tayne, a financial attorney in Melville. When a client hesitates to cooperate, it’s a red flag.

“I refer to myself as a ‘debt therapist’ because a lot of the time my clients are not having mutual financial disclosure with one other,” Tayne says. She tells them, “if you want to get out of debt, you need to not only be honest with yourself but also with each other.”

Address concerns quickly and calmly. Devise a financial plan as a team. If that doesn’t work, says Tayne, “Decide whether you want to continue your relationship.”

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