Bullying — It Doesn’t Just Affect Children; “Financial Bullying” Leaves American Adults Feeling Victimized

Spouses and live-in partners – especially those aged 18 to 34 – report feeling bullied over money

The online survey, conducted in June 2013, revealed that committed American adults (sample size: 1,036) are generally on good financial terms with their spouse or partner. But one in 10 classified their spouse or live-in partner as a “financial bully.”

Younger generations report feeling financially bullied more than their older counterparts:

  • Those aged 18 to 34 are three times more likely to say they are financially bullied than those aged 55 or older (19 percent vs. 6 percent).
  • Those with children under the age of 18 in the household are more likely to classify their mate as a bully than those who don’t live with children (18 percent vs. 7 percent).
  • Sadly, 22 percent of married 18-to 34-year-olds said they would get a divorce “if money were no object.”

When it comes to gender, the percentage of men and women who report being financial bullied is almost equal, though men aged 18-34 are more likely to say they’re bullied than their female counterparts (33 percent vs. 7 percent).

Credit Karma asked victims about the tactics their financial bully uses to intimidate or control them:

  • Makes me feel guilty for my shopping habits: 37 percent
  • Limits my monthly spending: 34 percent
  • Makes me show receipts for all purchases: 20 percent
  • Gives me an allowance / limits my spending: 18 percent
  • Keeps me from having credit cards: 17 percent
  • Doesn’t let me go shopping by myself: 11 percent
  • Forces me to use coupons: 8 percent

“The survey results are very sad for these couples,” says Rachel Sussman, LCSW, a relationship expert and therapist working with Credit Karma. “Financial bullying is an indicator of a lack of trust. Open communication and honesty need to be the foundation of all healthy relationships.”

Not surprisingly, a similar number of spouses and live-in partners (13 percent) admitted to lying about their spending habits to their partners. Men were significantly more likely to admit to this (17 percent vs. 10 percent).

Ken Lin – Credit Karma’s CEO and Chief Consumer Advocate – says couples could benefit from using Credit Karma’s financial dashboard.

“When partners lie or hide money concerns from one another, it can have a major impact on their financial future,” says Lin. “Many big financial decisions, like applying for a mortgage or saving for a child’s education, are made more easily with transparency and communication. A resource like Credit Karma can provide a comprehensive picture of an individual’s financial health, empowering those in a relationship to take control of their finances.”

To learn more about financial bullying, visit www.creditkarma.com/financial-bullying. Consumers can take a quiz to determine if their partner exhibits the qualities of a financial bully, and receive relationship advice and financial tips.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Credit Karma from June 13 to 17, 2013, among 2,021 adults ages 18 and older, of whom 1,036 are married or currently living with their partner. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Madeline Willman of SHIFT Communications at mwillman@shiftcomm.com.

About Credit Karma

CreditKarma.com provides more than 20 million consumers financial peace of mind by tracking their credit and finances all in one place for free. Credit Karma’s goal is to help its members make the most of their credit by offering insightful saving recommendations based on unique data comparisons. It also provides financial education and access to free tools, such as the free Credit Report Card and Card Statics, which empower consumers to take charge of their financial health. For more information, please visit www.creditkarma.com.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client’s research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.