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Financial Bullying

Undated_Does your spouse or live-in partner keep you from using your own money?
If so, you could be in a relationship  with a financial bully!

Maxine Browne is now thrilled to be in charge of her own credit and debit cards, her checking account,  and her cash, because for years, her husband controlled all their cash and credit.
She says his money monitoring started slowly. 

"When you get married, you add this person to your accounts. So that's what I did. And then he said, ‘I can do the banking for you'," Brown said.

Eventually, she says her husband took over everything, including which groceries she bought, and   the amount of gas in her car.

A survey by Credit Karma reveals Maxine is not alone. One in ten respondents classified their   significant other as a "financial bully".  Relationship therapist Rachel Sussman, who consulted on the survey, says squabbling over money happens in many relationships, but bullying is destructive.

"I've seen several instances where the bully, who is generally a very insecure person, tries to trap their partner in the relationship by taking away all their power around money," said Sussman.

  So how do you recognize a financial bully?  Sussman says it's important to look out for warning signs, like: your partner limits your spending or your access to credit cards,  or refuses to let you go shopping  alone, and the biggest red flag… 

"If you find yourself changing your behavior to please your partner, hiding things from your partner, doing things that you wouldn't ordinarily do." 

Certified financial planner Kathleen Sachs says something couples should ordinarily do is  make sure they each have a good  understanding of their money. 

"If I say to you, 'How is your financial health?', and you say to me, ‘I have no idea. My spouse is in   charge of that,' you have put yourself at risk."

 At risk, because, if something happens to your partner, or you split up, you'll be at a huge financial disadvantage.  Sachs warns make sure you always know your financial basics, including: what bills are owed each month, how much debt you owe, and how to access the bank and retirement accounts. Experts say if you don't know the answers, or feel like you're being bullied… speak up.

"There's a lot of power in communication and even saying to your partner, ‘I won't take this anymore.' You know, if that produces good results, great. If it doesn't, get some counseling and if, if that doesn't work, get out of the relationship," said Sussman.

The Credit Karma survey also found the percentage of men and women who report being  financially bullied is almost equal. The organization created a quiz  to help you determine if you're dealing with a bully.

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