There is a concept that has many names, but which I have always known as a “f—k off fund.” It means having enough of a nest egg that you can tell whoever is trying to control you financially to “f—k off.” That can mean an employer, but it’s more frequently understood as something people need in relationships. More specifically, women.
There are a lot of historical reasons why women, who were not considered people separate from their husbands until relatively recently, would need secret money. Even today, it is very common for an abuser to use finances to control and hold onto a woman in a relationship so that she can't leave without imperiling herself in other ways, or her children. Of course, this isn't exclusive to women, but I'll say that as a woman I understand it completely.
People are talking about these escape nest eggs right now because of a viral post on r/AmItheA**hole written by u/AITAFinance, who wrote that he discovered his wife of four years had a secret savings account.
He says he went through documents in the house because he thought something was wrong. It was revealed in later comments that he went through the trash, but whatever. Here's what he says:
It opened up 4 years ago, and she’s been auto depositing 10% of her income every year. She’s saying it’s a completely healthy thing to do especially for women. She says that she wants to be secured if something happened to me or if I started abusing her.
I find that extremely illogical and that it’s pretty bad that she’s been lying this whole time. She’s been hiding $25k dollars from me. I put my money into our joint account, since we both agreed to merge our finances. She’s now saying that I can also put 10% of my income every year into my own account.
I then threatened to take 40% of my income(4 years times 10%) and put it into a separate account just for me. She’s now saying that’s financial abuse and called me an asshole if I did that. I honestly don’t see what she’s thinking. She put 40% of her income and it’s been accruing interest.
She’s now staying at a friend's house. Most of my friends think I’m in the right, but I don’t know at this point. They’re my friends, they’re more likely to agree with me regardless. I think I need to see another POV.
Okay, so his math is wrong there. Ten percent of your income over four years isn't 40 percent of your income in total. He also says she makes about 50k a year and he makes 100k a year, so that would be a significant amount of money, far more than her nest egg in just one year. And maybe this is beside the point, but doesn't it suck that someone so terrible at math is making twice as much money as his wife?
Anyway, the OP was firmly told he is a ginormous a-hole, but it also gave people a chance to talk about financial abuse and why they have felt they needed money like this in relationships, just in case. There were some people who thought the wife should have talked to him about it and not kept it a secret, but apparently he said she had been in an abusive relationship before.
That might have been what made her keep it a secret:
After all the comments, there came two edits. This is the first: Edit: Yeah, we’re probably getting a divorce.
And this is the second: Edit 2: She texted me with some uncomfortable news. She thinks our relationship can’t work because she feels I’m "abusive." I’m not going to update anymore.
I'm going to guess that this confrontation isn't the only issue in this marriage. I'm glad this woman had the funds to tell this man to f—k off.