By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Does your spouse or live-in partner keep you from using your own credit cards?  Make you feel guilty about your shopping habits?  If so, you could be in a relationship with a financial bully!  As 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds, this goes way beyond simply squabbling over finances.

Maxine Browne is thrilled to be in charge of her own credit and debit cards, her checking account, and her cash, because for years she says, “I had no access to money whatsoever.”

According to Browne, her husband controlled all their cash and credit and that his money monitoring started slowly.  She says, “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.'”  Eventually she says that he took over everything, including which groceries she bought, and the amount of gas in her car.  And Browne isn’t alone.

A survey by Credit Karma, a personal finance website, found that one in ten people say their significant other is a financial bully!  Relationship Therapist Rachel Sussman says, “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.”

Sussman, who consulted on the survey, says squabbling over money happens in many relationships,  But bullying is destructive and 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?  Sussman says, “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 believes that couples need to make sure they each have a good understanding of their money.  She says, “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 disadvantage.  So know your financial basics, including: what bills are owed each month, how much debt you have, and how to access the bank and retirement accounts.

If you don’t know the answers, or feel like you’re being bullied, speak up!   That’s what Maxine Browne did.  She says now she controls her purse strings, and values every cent.

Credit Karma found the percentage of men and women who report being financially bullied is almost equal.  To check out a quiz that will help you determine if you’re dealing with a financial bully visit:

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