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'Runaway accounts': Secret bank accounts women keep from their husbands

Deceptive or harmless? 

Chelsea Ritschel
in New York
Thursday 25 January 2018 19:33 GMT

Although marriage is supposed to be till death do us part, is it naive not to prepare for the worst with a secret bank account?

One woman recently posed the question on Mumsnet, after a friend mentioned she had a “runaway fund” in case she ever needs to leave her husband.

According to the post, her friend puts about £200 a month into her runaway fund - and it is a complete secret from her husband.

This is despite being in a very happy marriage and having no intention of leaving her husband, but simply because the woman believes having her own secret money is important in case she needs to leave her husband or her home for whatever reason.

And it turns out, the friend was “horrified that I didn’t know what a runaway fund was.”

But many found the idea of a runaway fund to be the horrifying bit of the story.

Ending the post questioning whether she should start her own runaway fund, women commenting had some strong opinions on the matter.

Should women have a secret "runaway fund?"

One woman commented: “Neither of us has unknown savings. The idea of a runaway fund suggests a lack of either commitment or belief in the marriage. Ghastly idea that undermines marriage as a lifelong commitment.”

Some even felt a secret fund is deceptive - “I would never do this and I would be devastated if I discovered my husband had a sneaky, ‘just in case my marriage goes tits-up or I fall out of love with her, for find someone better’ fund,” said one mum.

However, others revealed that, while they do have emergency money in their name alone, they wouldn’t consider it a “runaway fund.”

“There’s nothing wrong with having your own savings, whether in the form of an emergency fund or similar, but calling it a ‘runaway’ fund is a bit mad,” suggested one comment.

Another woman wrote: “I don’t have a running away fund, but I do have an emergency fund.”

One in five women have a bank account they keep secret

But there are also some who agreed that a runaway fund is a necessity - and actually the key to a happy marriage.

For Daisy Goodwin, who discussed the topic on the DailyMail, secret money is a must for married women - because she doesn't think it's truly possible to be happy in a marriage if you are completely dependent on your other half.

Goodwin wrote: "It's true that marriage is about commitment - to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer... but it is a lot easier to keep that promise if you have enough money to walk away if you need to."

Are secret bank accounts the key to a happy marriage?

But is her choice a form of deception? According to Goodwin, while it may sound calculating, she would argue "having a running-away fund doesn't mean you want to leave the marriage - it is more of a mental escape valve" and if "things get tricky, you are staying put because you want to, not because you have no choice."

According to a survey by TD Bank, almost one in five people keep secret bank accounts from their partners - but the same survey also found that one in five would break up with their partner if they discovered a “financial secret.”

"Secret bank accounts, or major debt not revealed, are secrets that can really impact trust and intimacy in a relationship," says April Masini, relationship expert and author of the 'Ask April' advice column, who analysed the results of the TD Bank survey. "The damage is never about the money — it's about the secret. The secret is the damaging dynamic."

And another survey published by RaboDirect found that 78 per cent felt it was important to know everything about their partner’s finances.

So is a “runaway account” deceptive - or necessary?

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