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Is your partner lying about their credit card purchases?

As a nation, we’re no stranger to pulling out our wallets. Collectively, we spend $26.6 billion a month on credit card purchases, and consumer spending hit an all-time high in the second quarter of of this year.

But are we being honest about it?

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According to new research commissioned finance expert and author Vanessa Stoykov, 21 per cent of Australians are lying to loved ones about credit card purchases – and more than 1 in 3 (36 per cent) aren’t talking about their finances at all to anyone.

“Money’s one of the last taboos that we have in society [that] people don’t speak of. Everyone wants to look like they’ve got it, whether it’s the car you drive or the clothes you wear, but no one wants to actually talk about it. So I think people keep their cards very close to their chest, and that’s a cultural thing,” Stoykov explained.

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On top of this, people are unwilling to admit when they haven’t done well with money, knowing that they’ve made mistakes or spent more than they should have and keeping it to themselves.

Why we lie

According to Stoykov’s research, 11 per cent of respondents from a sample of 1072 said they lied about credit card purchases because they knew they spent more than they should have, and another 10 per cent said they lied because they felt others would judge them.

“Usually, lying and credit cards go hand in hand.”

But what’s driving this secretive spending? According to the finance expert, the reason often has little to do with the purchase itself.

“A lot of the time, buying things is a very emotional thing because it makes you feel good,” Stoykov told Yahoo Finance. And if it makes you feel good, you think you need it – and rack up debt along the way.

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“Until you can break that cycle of getting an emotional rush from purchasing and get that rush from something else, it’s very hard to break that cycle.

“If people want to feel good, and buy something that makes them feel good, then they don’t want to have to justify that feeling.”

Take responsibility

So how do we get ourselves out of this mess? Stoykov says lying and allowing things to build up will make you feel worse in the long term because you’ll feel you don’t have control.

“You have to actually take some action. Look at what debt you’re in. Stop spending on the credit card. Consolidate your credit cards.” She points out that one in six people won’t pay off their credit debt, which she describes as a “massive trap”.

For those who feel they need to come clean to partners about their spending, going into the conversation with some ideas of your own on how to deal with it will be much more constructive than just dropping the news.

“Go in with a plan of action rather than just an admittance with no way forward,” Stoykov said. “If you have run up credit card debt and lied about things, I think the thing would be to say: ‘I want to change and here are the ways I’m going to change, and I just wanted to let you know that’s happening’.”

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“A plan forward of a change of behaviour … it might blow up initially, but I’m sure the outcome will be more positive.”

On a more pragmatic level, Stoykov also recommends minimising impulse purchases and instead saving up the funds to a bigger purchase.

“Find something you want more… and set a goal for that. You’re looking at impulse buying on shoes, but if you know you really want to go to Bali and your goal is a holiday, then it’s a lot easier to say no to something… if you know you’re going to get something big.”

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