Should you disclose extra income to your partner?

Understanding and communication are important

Earning extra money can ease the financial burden on couples.
Earning extra money can ease the financial burden on couples.
Image: 123RF/Andrey Popov

According to the BrandMapp 2021 research report, 35% of middle-class South Africans have more than one income stream. Additionally, the percentage of people who rely on only one source of income decreased from 63% to 54% since 2019. In today’s economic climate, having additional income has indeed proven to be more crucial.

Financial coach Phelisa Siboyana advises that additional sources of income are definitely the way to go, especially as we try to navigate life amid the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think Covid-19 put a magnifying glass on the weaknesses we have, especially in our personal finances. It made many people realise that they don’t have savings and are actually one pay cheque away from being broke,” she said.

“It is so dangerous to live off one income. The world of finances and economics is very unpredictable as things stand.”

Financial coach Phelisa Siboyana.
Financial coach Phelisa Siboyana.
Image: Thulani Mbele

It is often said that more money tends to bring more problems. While this may not be everyone’s reality, research has highlighted finances as one of the leading causes for divorce. In relationships, multiple income streams can raise the question of transparency. How important is it for one to disclose all their sources of income to their partner? Are there ever instances where the non-disclosure of some income is acceptable?

“In a relationship there needs to be transparency around money because you are building a life together. After all, the foundation of a relationship includes communication as well as being open and honest,” said relationship coach Mpho Motsie-Mabuda.

However, she warns that not every relationship is the same. As such, what’s important is an understanding between the two parties.

“There’s a difference between secrecy and privacy. As people, we’re individuals. A certain level of privacy is allowed, depending on what both partners agree on. Every couple is different. If something financially related will affect your partner then they definitely need to know.”

Financial coach Phelisa Siboyana shares the sentiment. For her, communication and boundaries go hand in hand with striving towards financial wellness in relationships.

“The disclosure of additional income definitely rides on the nature of the relationship. If you are sharing your life with somebody, then trust, communication and clear boundaries are absolutely important,” she said.

“As a financial coach I think it is important to disclose all of your income streams and the state of your finances, obviously within the established level of healthy communication and boundaries.”

Mpho Motsie-Mabunda.
Mpho Motsie-Mabunda.
Image: Supplied

Navigating the financial grey area of “secrecy v privacy” can be challenging. Although a level of privacy is healthy and is everyone’s human right, secrecy can have a devastating effect on relationships.

“There’s been a lot of secrecy around finances in many of our upbringings. Back in the day our parents didn’t normalise conversations about money and how to handle our finances. Try not to repeat the secrecy patterns of the past,” Motsie-Mabuda advised.

Ultimately, money is merely currency and should not have the power to change our personal qualities or our relationships. Therefore, one’s personal relationship with money will determine the impact it has on one’s life and relationships.

“If you are an open and upfront person, there is no need for money to change that about you. If you change, it means you have given money reign over your life. We should be people who are able to control, manage and regulate our finances,” said Siboyana.

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