Money

The money secret this wife kept from her husband will make you jump for joy

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Heartsick individuals have been writing to advice columnist Carolyn Hax for decades now, and their problems often touch on problems with money one way or another. But the wife who sent a message into one of Hax's recent Friday live chats about keeping a financial secret from her husband had an unusual reason for speaking up.

"We have separate banking accounts: Every month I pay the mortgage and he pays the utilities and groceries. He doesn't know, that for a long time, I've been paying an extra $150 every month toward the mortgage," she wrote.

"Now, instead of having four years left, we are about to be done and own our house free and clear. I'm telling him tonight, but I'm so excited, I'm telling you all now :)."

Hax had no advice to give, only admiration.

For many couples, money is a significant source of anxiety. According to a recent SunTrust Bank study, about 35 percent of respondents experiencing relationship stress blamed finances. And a 2017 LearnVest study reports that 68 percent of Americans in couples say that finances cause even more problems than sex.

When put to the test, as in CNBC Make It's relationship game show series, "Love Bank," people with romantic partners are often not on the same page about issues to do with saving, spending and investing for the future. That's why most financial experts and counselors suggest that couples talk more, and more freely, about money.

That's also why two disappointed "Love Bank" contestants, who learned from the experience that they weren't in sync, pledged to "communicate more openly and work together." In their case, they realized that setting joint money goals could be a great thing.

Indeed, setting joint money goals can help tremendously. It allowed Justin and Kaisorn McCurry to bank more than $1 million in a decade to retire in their 30s and led "Mr. and Mrs. 1500" — the pseudonym of early retirees Carl and Mindy — to up their net worth from $586,000 to nearly $1.8 million in four and a half years, thanks to cutting expenses and smart investing.

Still, sometimes a secret is worth keeping — especially if it leads to an outcome that's worth celebrating.

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