Are You Being Financially Bullied? Take This Quiz.

Happy Friday, lovers! You’ve probably seen this article/quiz floating around the interwebs by now (I’m a bit slow, what can I say), but in the off chances you haven’t I thought it made for some good stuff to think about over the weekend. And, with life in general for that matter.

I hadn’t heard of *financial* bullying, per se, until I read this article over at U.S. News & World Report, and I gotta admit is sounds horrible. And I can only imagine it’s even harder to deal with when it involves someone close to you :(

Here’s the gist of financial bullying, according to the article:

Financial bullying occurs in a committed relationship when one partner uses his or her power or influence to control the other financially.

These bullies use the following tactics:

  • Making his or her partner feel guilty about purchases
  • Limiting monthly spending
  • Making his or her partner show receipts for all purchases
  • Keeping his or her partner from having credit cards
  • Not letting his or her partner go shopping alone

BLEH! Feels more like financial prison to me. Not good…

I then came across this “financial bullying quiz” over at Credit Karma, so I decided to take it myself to see how healthy (or not) our household is when it comes to managing our money together. And it was a pretty fast quiz to take too – took all of 68 seconds :) It’s only 7 questions long, and then at the end it spits out your results. Here was mine:

financial bullying quiz

But look at all those percentages there :( Only a little over half work well together with money!! Ick!! If you can’t read that tiny print up there, here’s the breakdown:

  • 62% of partners seem to communicate well about their finances
  • 16% may need to talk about their finances
  • 14% might be somewhat controlling
  • 8% could be dealing with a financial bully

That means that almost 1 out of every 10 of you reading this right now could be currently bullied :( Which equates to about 400 people with my given stats these days – ouch. But I’m so glad you’re here reading this right now and working on solutions! We got your back, baby! :)

And if it helps, here are a few tips from that same article on ways to help get you out of that 8% area:

  • If your communication needs to get back on track … Keep the lines of communication open, and get comfortable with expressing any concerns you might have to your partner. Sit down with your partner, and re-evaluate how you’re handling money as a couple. Agree to check in on your finances together once a month. Having a regular conversation can help stifle controlling tendencies before they get too serious.
  • If you partner seems somewhat controlling … Start with a simple financial monitoring tool such as Mint, Credit Karma or LearnVest. Being informed about your own finances will help you take back some of the control you may have lost. If your partner is willing, you also might consider couples’ therapy. You can use the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s therapist locator to find a professional near you.
  • If you think you’re dealing with a financial bully … It’s important to address issues as soon as possible. If your partner is unwilling to change his or her ways, take steps to protect yourself and your finances. Talk with someone you trust, like a friend or family member, or consider getting professional guidance. Be prepared to take some serious steps to stop financial bullying, such as changing the PINs or passwords on your financial accounts or putting a fraud alert on your credit.

Basically, it all comes down to communication and both partners being open to change. Something a lot easier to think about/say, than do unfortunately. BUT, *knowing* where you stand is step #1, just like with anything in life and money. So once you grasp that, it’s upward and onward to laying down those tracks for a better future! And we SO HOPE you get there!

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to share them in the comments below. It’s a totally hate-free zone here, and I’m sure others would love to chime in and offer some guidance (not to mention those in the same boat who’d be glad to see their questions being asked too). Just know that you’re not alone though, and there’s plenty of people who love you and want to help out :)

Have a blessed weekend, everybody. And if you’re currently one of the 62% bully-free, be sure to count your blessings.

[Photo cred: Comcast Washington State]

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  1. Nick @ Step Away from the Mall January 3, 2014 at 5:49 AM

    Our communication has come a long way from the beginning. Mint was a GREAT tool to help. My wife is a SAHM and doesn’t really have too much interest in all of the details, but sometimes gets nervous if it’s been a little while since she’s looked at the big picture. A quick scan of Mint does wonders.

    1. J. Money January 3, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      Yes! Love it! Mint – and others like it – is perfect for that.

  2. Brian @ Debt Discipline January 3, 2014 at 6:40 AM

    Great topic! Communication is so important! This is one of the big changes for my wife and I over the last several years and has really helped improve our financial situation as well as our relationship!

  3. Dave @ The New York Budget January 3, 2014 at 7:44 AM

    Phew! I passed with flying colors. My gf is less financially-minded than I am, but I am committed to letting her run her finances the way she chooses. Honestly, that has led to her seeing my lifestyle, asking about it, and adopting some of my more frugal habits naturally! I will absolutely help her with her finances, but no matter what happens in our relationship, I will never view her finances as my own and I think that is where people get in trouble.

    1. J. Money January 3, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      Agreed, at least in the dating stage of the game. Once marriage and kids come it can change things a bit, but as long as both parties talk about everything and choose a path that works well for both – whether that’s combining or keeping separate (or a combo of each) – it will usually work out pretty well. It goes south when one of the halves aren’t happy with the set up :(

      1. Dave @ The New York Budget January 8, 2014 at 12:50 AM

        Right – and to clarify my comment: “I will never view her finances as my own” – I may, someday view them as OURS, but never as mine to force my spending habits on.

  4. downunder sugarglider January 3, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    Wow – great topic! I volunteer with a service organisation whose mission is to advance the status of women, and sadly financial control has historically been one of the worst problems women have had to fight for. It has only been in my own lifetime that here in Australia a married woman could keep her job in the public service. And only in my generation has the SAHM become a minority. with a divorce rate close to 50%, too many women suddenly find themselves alone and poor cause hubby kept control of all the money. many are forced to stay in unhappy relationship and tolerate this crap cause they can’t afford to leave.
    Your post helps normalise this conversation and help all the young people out there to realise their responsibilities re: financial security when in a relationship.
    Or as we like to say to the girlies: don’t end up with an STD: Sexually Transmitted Debt.

    1. J. Money January 3, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      Sexually Transmitted Debt! HAH! I like that :) And even more so that you work at that organization and help women gain control again! I can’t even imagine a lifestyle where you feel like you’re stuck because of money or abuse or whatever the case. Just hurts my heart and happy that people like you are out there trying to change that. SO GOOD JOB!!

  5. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel January 3, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    Very sad. Luckily we have pretty good communication skillz, although we definitely have different tastes and have to communicate about those.

  6. Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions January 3, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Interesting quiz. In domestic violence circles, they’d call that financial abuse, not bullying. But I guess that’s just semantics.

    I take issue with the question about allowances — it didn’t ask if the partner had an allowance too! But at the end, it’s good to know I’m not a financial bully. :)

    1. John S @ Frugal Rules January 3, 2014 at 9:43 AM

      I thought the same thing Rebecca. I wasn’t certain how they’d view me on that question as both my wife and I get an allowance to do whatever we want with.

    2. superduper January 3, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      Agreed, Rebecca. In relation to the bulletized list above (not the quiz), “ABUSE” is really a better term than bullying (forgive the shouting, but I want people to notice it, this is an under-discussed issue and one that hits home with me). Because really, with only a very few exceptions, if there is any kind of actual bullying within a relationship, that’s pretty much all going to go under the category of emotional/psychological abuse. If that’s your dynamic, please consider reading a Lundy Bancroft book (ignore the pronouns, women do this stuff too).

      The more subtle forms of abuse, often hand-in-hand with kindness and sweetness (no-one would stay in an abusive relationship without the good stuff making us reconsider), are often a far more potent mind-f*&% and do real and lasting damage. (but if you are in that category, please know that things can get better if you get out, and you don’t have to be super-hero strong now… limping out broken is ok for now, the strength comes later, strength you can’t even imagine.) /Sidebar on domestic abuse over now/

      That said, the same financial behavior the article mentioned could be agreed-upon between partners – “I don’t have the willpower to resist using a credit card so I shouldn’t have one” “I need financial accountability, let’s make it so I have to show you all my receipts” (or review Mint regularly or whatever). That is clearly not abusive, that’s teamwork and being creative in handling one’s own weak spots. And there’s no question that one person can be better with finances than the other, and take on more responsibility or decision-making.

      1. J. Money January 3, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        Great comments! Thanks for sharing and putting it out there! I am personally super naive about this stuff (abuse/bullying) so it’s great to see the expanded dialogue here.

        And I, too, thought the allowance one was a bit off ;) But I understood the message behind it so let it go… I don’t see any problem with both parties having an allowance if it’s what both want and agree upon together! It’s when one side dominates the other and doesn’t allow for an opinion/say when it goes down hill.

  7. John S @ Frugal Rules January 3, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    Great and much needed topic J! I’d have to agree with Rebecca that in domestic violence circles this would be chalked up as abuse and not bullying – but I get the point. :) It just goes to show you that communication is huge in a relationship – especially when you’re talking about important matters like money.

  8. Challenge Mantra January 3, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    I never knew financial bullying was a thing but I suppose it’s just something I’ve never thought of. (It makes sense!)

    On the bright side, I’m not being financially bullied! My partner and I communicate pretty well about finances though we struggle with all the normal stuff like staying on budget.

  9. Shannon @ Financially Blonde January 3, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    I LOVE this post, and I am so glad that you highlighted this quiz. As a financial planner, I see this ALL the time with my married couples. I joke that I am frequently acting more as a therapist then an advisor because money issues are difficult to work through and you truly sometimes need a disinterested third party to break any money wars.

    1. J. Money January 3, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      I bet!!! Money is HUGE in relationships so I’d be surprised if you never had arguments/therapy sessions with them! ;)

  10. Done by Forty January 3, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    But what if being a financial bully makes you feel like a big strong man? Then is it okay?

    I like to think my wife and I have a good system but it’s hard to say…everything’s relative and we don’t have a lot of other couples to compare it to. We go over the budget regularly, discuss all major purchases, make plans together, all that. Maybe we’ll take that quiz…

  11. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen January 3, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    I’m bull-free! Yeah! Haha I do tend to ask my husband for receipts though, for budgeting purposes and to check with the credit card statements. He’s horrible about keeping and organizing receipts so I only get a portion of them.

  12. Kirby @ TheSimpleMoneyBlog January 3, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    We’ve all heard that money (communication – or lack thereof, having it, not having it, etc.) is the leading cause of marital arguments, and it can often be quite a touchy subject for so many that it’s not surprising that so many people get “financially bullied” in some form. We had a series a little while back on discussing “who makes the money,” “who manages the money,” and “who spends the money.” It’s certainly not that it needs to be an even split across all three of these for a couple (as any one person could be the “primary” in several of these areas), but what is important is how we communicate about our expenses to be able to keep those lines open, so we’re both on the same page. Being open to suggestions and not just pushing your own agenda will take you far in your relationship – especially if you make the whole money management process collaborative, so you can lean on one another’s strengths.

    1. J. Money January 3, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      Amen, brotha! Might have to steal that ““who makes the money,” “who manages the money,” and “who spends the money.” idea too ;) Would make for a fun post down the line.

      1. Kirby @ TheSimpleMoneyBlog January 6, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        Thanks! Glad you like it. I think it was very well received too as it’s a good topic to delineate who does what and how you split up the financial duties to play on one another’s strengths.

  13. Mel January 3, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    After the first pass, I thought “Crap… I’m a financial bully.” Sadly, I’m somewhat relieved to see that I might just be a little controlling. Ugh. Looks like I need to have a talk with the husband… and maybe a little come-to-Jesus chat with the self, too!

  14. Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life January 3, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    Unfortunately, I do tend to be a bit of a bully with the bf. It’s just that…and here comes the excuse…he loves spending money on certain things/experiences that have no relevance to me. And because our expenses aren’t combined just yet, I really shouldn’t have a say. It’s something I’ll definitely have to try and get better at.

    1. J. Money January 3, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      I think there’s a line between caring and wanting to make sure everything is okay for each others’ futures, vs controlling because of other (bad) reasons. Usually bullies aren’t doing what’s best for their victims from the little I know :)

    2. eemusings January 5, 2014 at 3:43 PM

      Okay, yeah, I am a bit controlling as well. Not without cause, though – he’s a reformed PF failure and needs help being kept in check sometimes. But our motivations are good!

  15. Sarah January 3, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    I’ve been a SAHM for awhile, and something I highly recommend (if you fall in this category) is having the SAH-spouse do the finances and manage all the money. I think it helps prevent bullying from the working spouse. It requires so much trust! Anyway, my in-laws encouraged us to go this route once I stayed home with the kids, and I am so glad we did. To this he earns the $$ and I manage it. Also, because we stick to a budget, he and I almost always have fun $$ to spend (on lunches out with friends, movies, clothes, books, whatever). I wouldn’t call it an allowance, because we aren’t structured about it, but that’s basically what it is. Financial communication is so important!!

  16. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer January 4, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    Wow, J. Money. That is scary stuff. I never knew this was such a problem. Thanks for sharing an eye-opening article.

  17. Karen at Money Saving Enthusiast January 4, 2014 at 7:05 PM

    I know I’m guilty of being the receipt monitor. It’s not about how much hubby spends, I just like to enter receipts manually right away. I get lazy when it’s automated. I’m the one who polices the spending too. So maybe I qualify for an ick. LOL I just try to be large and in charge not a bully.

    1. J. Money January 6, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      I’m with you on becoming lazy with automation. The more manual it is, the better for me! Outside of bills, at least… I like those things being automated :)

  18. Ree Klein January 5, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    Hey J ~

    This is such an important topic. Being on the more “mature” end of the reader spectrum and having my share of failed relationships, I have personal experience with this topic. I feel very strongly about it and wrote two posts last year that touch on it.

    The first deals with the frustration of waiting for your partner to change and steps you can take to pull out of that tail spin. Here’s the link if anyone is interested:

    The second is about how to avoid committing to a bad relationship by digging into the uber-important stuff before marrying. Here’s take on that:


    1. J. Money January 6, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      Thanks for the info, Ree! I’m sure this will help those others reading this and in current not-so-fun situations. Big fan of your blog, keep it up :)

  19. Donna Freedman January 6, 2014 at 3:03 AM

    Ohhhhh yeah….My now-ex was a major financial bully. He was emotionally and psychologically abusive, and money was a big, big issue.
    So very happy that my new partner shares my financial values. Specifically, we don’t mind spending on things that matter to us but we don’t waste our funds on things that don’t make any difference in our lives. We split the cost of necessities but after that neither tells the other what to do with his/her funds.

    1. J. Money January 6, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      It’s a good way to be! Very very happy for you and all your new changes in life :) It’s Donna 2.0! Hehe…

  20. Børge January 8, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    Man, I wonder if I’m a financial bully. Sometimes I give my wife a hard time (in a somewhat teasing way) when she spends too much on groceries that could have been found cheaper. She puts the receipts on my desk (her initiative but I appreciate it at lot) so I can enter it into YNAB, and I clearly manage most of our finances. She also gets an allowance, but so do I.

    Luckily we communicate very well, and she’s not afraid of telling me what’s on her mind. I should probably ask if I’m being a financial bully :)

  21. Mike Carlson January 8, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    I have to admit we’ve been having financial issues with my partner lately. We are quite a spender and we don’t get too agree much lately on which ones are to prioritize when it comes to spending.

    1. J. Money January 10, 2014 at 8:31 PM

      Haha.. nice use of “we” there ;)

  22. theFIREstarter January 15, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    I think I come across as a bit of a purchase checker sometimes when going through our budget but have eased off of that over the last few months. Hopefully I was never in the bullying category! I can think of a few couples I know where one person does fall into it unfortunately. I’m talking about, no you can’t buy that for £50 but I’m buying this for £500 type stuff. Pretty extreme! It’s tough to see but there isn’t much you can do but offer some well intended advice and support if needed.

    1. J. Money January 15, 2014 at 6:23 PM

      Yuck! So blessed to not be in a relationship like that, sounds like a nightmare :(

  23. prosperousnotforprofit March 26, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    Super super interesting!
    I often think specifically about couples where one person hands over their paycheque to the other person and I could never understand that has being a part of a healthy relationship but could never find the right words to describe it. Financial bullying is a really good start! And this simple quiz is so interesting and great to get people thinking!

    1. J. Money March 26, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      Glad you enjoyed it ;) There’s nothing inherently wrong with one person managing the money of the household completely of course, but if there’s anything against their will going on, or other non-niceties, then yeah – bullying is coming into play!

  24. S Orban June 19, 2016 at 2:42 PM

    I do not have a job my husband owns his own business and I help along with I do every bit of cleaning, cooking. Everything is in his name and he always holds it over my head that j don’t bring money in but won’t let me get a job. He does not allow me to drive “his” veh unless i ask permission and will not give me money if I say I need something he says he will go get it when he wants to what should I do

    1. J. Money June 20, 2016 at 7:05 AM

      I’m so sorry to hear – that sounds horrible :( hopefully someone can chime in here with some tips for you! Check out the links I’ve included in the article above too in the meantime? Maybe something will help out?

  25. ji February 18, 2019 at 9:11 AM

    I am Having a situation. Wife not ready for spend any money and says it is husbands job to earn and provide for familly. also always fighting for take her for international holidays. i have very little salary wth which barely handle monthly expenses. what should i do? any advise . thanks in advance

    1. J. Money February 18, 2019 at 1:00 PM

      I’m sorry to hear :( Have you tried counseling before? Would she be open to have a conversation about it?

  26. LT July 11, 2020 at 7:29 PM

    My husband is a classic financial bully and it appears at this point he is also a thief. I’ve made about twice what he has over our 20 year marriage and he’s handled the money through most of those years. I became disabled 4 years ago and all of a sudden it’s dawned on me now that the amount I was “paying” him is about 90% of my benefits that whoaaaa! How much have I “overpaid” you!?! This is the first month he is getting nothing and I don’t know how to go about this but it’s not going to be pretty. Thank you for validating the fact that it’s not just money trouble.