A reader wants to start deceiving his girlfriend before he gets married.

Question: I’m going to ask my girlfriend to get married, probably next summer if I know how she thinks. Here’s the thing.  She’s hot and smart and awesome, but she’s real bad with money. Not like in lots of debt, because she’s not. She just spends any money she has.

When she got a raise last month, she went out and bought more shoes. She’s already got a closet full of shoes she’s never even put on. So here’s my question: How can I start hiding money from her so when we get married and she doesn’t save any, I have a stash? And once we’re married, is it legal for me to keep some money hidden?

— Matt in Delaware

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

As a married man myself, Matt, let me first start with this bit of advice: Don’t say anything about the shoes. That’s an argument you won’t win. Trust me on this.

Also trust me on this: You can easily hide money from your girlfriend, but you really shouldn’t.

Yes, it’s perfectly legal in a marriage for you to take your own paycheck and refuse to deposit it in a joint account. No, it’s not legal to deny you earned the money at all and try to hide it under a mattress or in an offshore bank. The IRS will be madder than your wife, and you should strive to never make enemies out of either one.

That said, 12 million Americans are hiding credit card or bank accounts from their partners. That might explain why one of the most popular posts on Debt.com is called How To Hide Money From Your Spouse: A Sneaky, Step-By-Step Guide. Debt.com interviewed a divorce lawyer to find eight legal ways you can keep your spouse from your cash.

While you can certainly follow some of those steps, Matt, I’d encourage a totally different approach.

Hiding money is not a solution. It’s a symptom. You said it yourself, Matt: You’re not comfortable with how your wife handles money. Instead of trying an end-run around the problem, why not confront it head-on?

I’ve written before how money can’t buy you love, but it can certainly ruin it. If you don’t talk to your girlfriend now about her spending, it will be difficult to do it later. You’ll build up resentment, and if you blurt out your concerns years from now, she’ll rightly be offended you didn’t mention it earlier.

The sad truth is, 59 percent of Americans say “finances played a role in their divorce.” Yet many of those couples never had the “money talk.” They had the “children talk” and the “house talk” and the “career talk.” Yet for some reason, they never spoke openly about how they spend money and save it.

I urge you, Matt, to talk lovingly and directly to your girlfriend. In more cases than this, hiding sounds like a plan, but it’s usually the coward’s way out.

Have a debt question?

Email your question to editor@debt.com and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.

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Article last modified on August 9, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .