Money Secrets People Keep That Are Actually Pretty Common

Best Financial Advice Around Money Secrets People Keep

As a Fee-only financial planner and a true fiduciary, my goal is to help you make smarter and more educated decisions using the best financial advice available. 

Your ability to thrive both personally and financially depends on how you handle your money. In order to do that you need trusted tools and information. That’s where Financial Residency can help you fill the gap with financial advice!

In order to come out of life on top, you’ll need to be honest about all issues surrounding your finances. Keeping secrets has damaging psychological effects on you, your family, and the outcome of your future. 

Recently, I went to the FinCon conference, where the who’s who in the financial world gather. 

I was interested in hearing what they think about the biggest financial secrets that people keep from themselves, their spouses, their friends or their family.

According to research people who keep secrets reported more fatigue. It takes a concerted effort to hide negative financial details from the people closest to you. The result is a feeling isolation and alone-ness.

Subscribe to the Financial Residency PodcastDo you feel as if you are the only person in your circle sinking in the confusion of deepening debt?

I’ve seen this effect with student debt (consumer debt and credit card debt). It leads to a deep feeling of shame, so that you are tempted to hide your situation. 

However, casting off the shame, reaching out for help, and starting a conversation is the best thing you can do for your mental health, relationships, and your finances!

Let’s find out the type of secrets that others have struggled with, and what financial advice is offered, so that you can avoid the same mistakes!


Whitney Hansen of the Money Nerds Podcast 

One of the biggest money secrets I see people keep is their total amount of debt. I think it’s really a lot of shame. There’s a lot of fear with sharing how much debt people actually have, and especially with couples. I’d say that’s the biggest piece. 

The second piece, would be forgetting about the debt that was sent to collections, and not counting that as debt when it should be. 



Hopefully, you won’t let anything go into collections. Let’s make sure that you guys are doing the right thing. 

Some financial advice is to write your debt on one sheet of paper, your understanding, what you took out, and the interest rate. Then also write down how long you’ve had this outstanding debt or the term length. Make sure that you’re putting together a plan, and an action item list for this debt to make sure you squash it. 

It’s really important, don’t bury your head in the sand and ignore it, and please don’t let it go to collections. All right, let’s talk to my friend Brianna. From the 1 million apples podcast.


Breanna Reish from the One Million Apples Podcast

I think something that spouses keep from each other are secret bank accounts. One of my clients found out because once they split, they got a tax form in the mail for a bank account she didn’t know about. She had a 1099 for a bank account with interest that she didn’t even know existed. Secret bank accounts, those happen and sometimes you never know, and sometimes you find out in odd ways.



We have seen this time and time again. When we work with couples, and we see that they have separate accounts. This is one another reason why we like joint accounts, because there’s full transparency across the board. Nobody is sheltering assets in different places. Everyone’s on the same page. Everyone knows what’s going on. It makes it a lot easier to plan as well, when everyone has that common goal. There’s obviously no surprises, such as, “Oh, by the way, I have this account that you had no idea existed”. It would be very bad to find out if it was some form of debt. 

Our financial advice is:

  • Have open lines of communication. 
  • Don’t hide things from each other. 

I’ve written about having regular “money dates” with your spouse. It’s good financial advice, and a good idea to ease the way of communicating with each other. It also builds intimacy by having a vision for your family and growing dreams together. 


Steve Crawford from The Advice Movement

We’re a school for financial advisors. I’m sort of an advisor to financial advisors. I think the number one secret anybody caves is actually being honest with themselves about what they do with their money. 

They are just hitting and hoping that subconsciously, they’re going to sort it out eventually. That the system is sorted out for them or someone else will sort it out for them. That if they don’t talk about it with each other, that somehow things will just sort of organically get to where they need to. 

That’s the number one secret is actually not talking about money, openly, transparently, and being ashamed about of all that sort of stuff. Until that time, the subconscious and the conscious, they’re never really in control of their money.



That’s the old hope and pray model. Hopefully, you are not doing that. Make sure you are having discussions with yourself, and your spouse about what is actually going on in your finances.

Make sure that you are tackling these things. I mean, having reliable financial advice and a good financial plan is so important. Knowing where your money’s going, and I’ve talked about making sure you’re spending in the right places and money dates with your spouse’s to have that open lines of communication, that stuff is super important. 

Please don’t lie to yourself on those things.


Tim Baker at Your Financial Pharmacist

A financial myth that many believed to be true is that you have to be rich in order to be successful. A lot of our self worth is often centered around the zeros in our bank account. 

I don’t think that to be true. I think really what makes you happy and constructing a plan that is in line with those thoughts is the number one thing that many young professionals and really, Americans should focus and putting first things first. 



I had Tim on the show when it first launched. He happens to be a good friend of mine. We have this conversation all the time, and putting together a plan. We actually kind of advise each other on certain things that we do, because even planners need planners. 

It’s not one of those cases where we say everyone else should have financial advice and build a plan but think we don’t need one. Informally, we do that and it’s been amazing to be able to talk with someone to iron out our plans, and goals. 

Are we hitting our goals? I can tell you that it has provided me with a lot more clarity. That’s really effective in keeping Kayse and I grounded in our passion to build out plans for clients because we know it’s so effective. 


Tim Ulbrich from Your Financial Pharmacist

When it comes to secrets people keep about money… What comes to mind for me is full transparency with a spouse. I’m not talking here in the sense of hiding expenses. I think really sharing the true vision and goals that you have individually, and then how are you collectively going to work together as a couple.

I think for my wife and I, for example, we’re very transparent. We have joint accounts, but when we worked with with Tim Baker, our certified financial planner, hearing my wife respond to some of the “why” bigger life questions and really her her hopes, dreams and desires. 

You know, I hadn’t heard that from her. That really shaped how we spend our money, what our goals are. 

I think when it comes to couples working together, when you start with the “why”, when you start with the dream, and you start with the vision, the month to month, and the budget becomes that much easier because you’re on the same page about the dream.



There are three people named Tim with Your Financial Pharmacist, which makes it really fun and also slightly awkward, but that Tim works with Tim Baker, who was the previous guest. 

Tim is referring to our discussions about life planning, and creating a financial life plan and why it’s so important to do that. Some of the questions that help clarify what you really want in life are:

  • What do you want to do with your life?
  • What is your ideal life?
  • What are your goals?

I know this can get kind of touchy-feely if you will. However, it’s the important stuff. These are the rocks, and the big boulders that are there. It’s not the sand and pebbles. 

These are the big boulders of what do you want to do? What do you want to do when you grow up? 

  • As you think through your career, are you thinking about eventually scaling back to have more time with your family? 
  • Would you like to travel to certain places and just make sure that you’re allocating funds to those types of experiences? 
  • Is it completely changing medicine and going a different direction? Or going into public health? 
  • What is it that you ultimately want to do? 

As you start to formulate that, work backward and figure out how you can use your assets, your money to achieve those goals, don’t just wander aimlessly and hope you get there.

You need to have direction. That life planning piece that I preach about, and that we work on with all our clients is something that we know is effective. It is amazing. That is what you guys need to be doing and having that open line of communication. 

My wife, Taylor and I have been doing this for years. It’s really helped my clients reach alignment. I get caught because sometimes she’s like, you know, that’s not part of our life plan. It also helps me go, “Oh yeah, you’re right, my bad, let’s change direction. Let’s do this or alter our path a little bit and make sure that we’re spending money in a way that makes us happiest.”


Victor Mangona from Blog 39.6

I’ve talked about how high-income professionals can help manage their money. One of the very common secrets I see about money is that the income people have and the assets they show people are highly disconnected. 

People can be earning a million dollars a year and show a regular average American lifestyle, regular house, and a regular car.

Whereas often the people who have the biggest houses, nice cars, they may have good income, but they don’t have any net worth. 

There’s often an inverse correlation between income and net worth. At the end of the day, which people don’t actually see. You know, the whole Millionaire Next Door thing.



Victor is one of my favorite people. He’s brilliant when it comes to taxes. He’s totally right, it’s the Millionaire Next Door concept. We had Sarah Fallaw on to talk all through that and the physician, millionaire mindset. 

It’s fascinating to think that, as you walk through the doctor’s parking lot, and you see the Mercedes and Tesla, Tesla, Mercedes, and you’re thinking, “Man, I really want to get rid of this 10 year old Toyota, I’ve been driving since training, I really should do that.” 

You think this is what everyone does. This is what society thinks I should do. In reality, if you’re not a car guy or car gal, don’t do that. Spend money in a way that makes you happiest. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the nicest car, the biggest house, the best clothes and the fanciest things. 

What ultimately makes you the happiest is where your funds should be allocated. 

If it’s travel, then you don’t go buy the biggest house and drive a Tesla. You don’t lock in so much of your money into those two big things. If you would have bought a Toyota, and a cheaper house, you would have an extra thousand dollars a month. 

That after you did all the right things, like paying yourself first and retirement accounts, you could put that thousand dollars toward travel. Which is actually something that meant the most to you. 


Bill Yount from Pivot Points MD and the Financial Literacy Project

The secrets that happened in my marriage involve… I went to a charity event and I wasn’t going to do anything with the silent auction, but then whoops, I spent $1,500 dollars on an event that we’re never going to do. 

Post-production… the wife comes clean and we’re like, “okay, you made a mistake. Let’s figure it out. We’ll move forward from here.”



Oh man, he’s already blasting the wife on air. That’s okay though because I met her and she’s amazing. But, it’s totally true and it doesn’t mean that one spouse over the other does these things. If something happens, right, you need to be flexible and adapt. 

Hopefully, that doesn’t happen where you’re spending that amount of money and not telling each other but things do happen. And what I think the takeaway should be here is to kind of roll with it, make sure that you don’t make those mistakes again, you learn from them, and you move forward. 

And that’s why 1. we have different emergency savings, which I’m not saying you use because you donated too much money. But you know, as unexpected things occur, you save for that. You have a little bit of wiggle room in your budgets are your cash flow planning to handle those things. 

Now, what should have happened is the next month knowing that “hey, a little too much money went out, you know for this month,” next month, you should say, hmm. “How can we cut back, not alter our lifestyle and eat ramen, but how can we cut back to maybe offset or soften the blow of that mistake?” Next, Hang out with Michael. 


Michael Quan from Financially Alert

One of the biggest secrets that people keep is how much debt they carry. You know,

a lot of times people are posturing, they’re trying to represent something that they’re not

necessarily actually living.



It’s a tough thing being able to be honest about how much debt you have. I know we don’t walk around with the sign on our back that says,  “I have debt and it’s this amount.” 

However, as a physician, you should be aware that you all have student debt. You probably have some credit card debt from residency, if you’re just finishing or in training. Hopefully, it’s not due to overspending and it might have been for interviews or something like that. You all probably have some form of auto debt. 

This is from earlier in your career, but be aware that you’re all in the same boat. I’ve been there. When talking to friends, finance eventually comes up and student debt comes up. I know you guys are talking about it, but just realize that our average client is $298,000 in debt. 

That’s obviously the average. There’s lower and there are some who are above, but it’s okay. Just make sure that you’re confronting it, and you’re not hiding it under the rug!


Patrick Ortman from Ortman Financial Planning

Some secrets that people keep about money. So the first thing that came to mind was spouses obviously keeping secrets with each other. But, I think perhaps the root of that might be that often one spouse isn’t honest with themselves about what their own financial goals are. And so that might prevent them from being able to be honest with their spouse, right? 

So that could come into play with say, what really are your financial goals? What really is important to me about money? It’s really hard to tell your spouse that you disagree with them on something so fundamental. 

And so I think having the opportunity to have someone say I want to be honest with myself about what my financial goals priorities concerns are and to then be able to share that with your spouse is a common thing that we lean into.




So it’s funny that you hear from Patrick, who’s also a financial planner, and you heard from Tim, who is a financial planner. You obviously hear it all for me throughout the show. But it comes back to being honest with yourself and really understanding what it is that motivates you, and what it is that you want. 

And as Patrick put it, being honest with yourself on your goals, a trajectory where you want to go, really, it’s that life plan and that vision, then you can have that conversation with your spouse and say, “Where do you want to go?” 

And hopefully, a lot of it will align you are two different people. So you will have two different sets of goals. Hopefully, again, there’s you know, some that obviously, tied together otherwise that could be hard if one of you wants to travel and the other wants to stay at home all the time, how you allocate funds, but you can still do that we work with clients that have that exact same scenario. 

It does not mean that you can’t do it, but when you sit down and have that discussion, how do you talk about the fundamentals of where money should flow and go if you don’t really know what you want yourself? 


So I love all of these answers. We also asked a second question to all of these that I will be playing in a couple months. 

I know we got a little deep with some of the stuff that we keep secrets on. But it is super important to be honest with yourself, be honest with your spouse, and have open lines of communication. 

It’s not only healthier marriages, but your finances will be stronger, you will understand them more and you will be able to achieve financial independence a lot sooner if you don’t keep secrets. 

In the meantime, what’s the best biggest financial secret you’ve had to deal with? Find the Physician Finance FB Community to share.

Ryan Inman