The U.S. government is certainly no fan of WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing site that recently exposed piles of the United States' classified diplomatic cables. Will the day come when sites like WikiLeaks stop targeting governments, and start laying bare the private lives of individuals? If WikiLeaks took aim at you and your finances, what truths might it uncover?
We all have our financial secrets, but exposing some of them to the light might not so terrible. Even our most embarrassing money secrets can turn into virtues over time.
For starters, it seems that 80% of married people keep their spouses in the dark about some purchases. (For women, it's most likely to be fashion-related purchases, while men keep mum about alcohol spending.) When such purchases start adding up on credit card accounts, big trouble can ensue.
According to the folks at indexcreditcards.com, the average U.S. household is carrying more than $7,000 in credit card debt. That's just the average -- plenty of people are deep in debt to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Such debt is often kept secret, so debtors often suffer alone. And the longer they wait to really tackle their debt, the faster it's likely to grow, since credit card interest rates often top 20%.
Procrastination is another deep, dark, and all-too-common money secret. If you put off investing for your future for five or 10 years, you lose a lot of time in which your money could be growing for you. If money has 20 or 30 years in which to grow, that's much more powerful than having just 10 or 15 years. If you put off participating in your company's 401(k) plan, or opening an IRA account, you may lose out on free money from your company, or tax breaks this year.
Another secret savings shame: Some 13 million Americans don't have a bank account, wrongly assuming that they aren't wealthy enough for one. That can be a bad move. Even small sums can grow in a bank account, especially when interest rates aren't languishing at their current atypical lows. Stuffed into a coffee can, those same dollars will only lose purchasing power over time.
Lastly, are you ashamed that you've had to file bankruptcy? Take heart -- you're not alone. More than 1.4 million Americans filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. Many people have rebuilt their financial lives after going bankrupt, including such luminaries as Abraham Lincoln and Henry Ford.
Anything is possible
Sharing secrets like these with friends, family, and fellow Fools can often do more good than harm. If you're brave enough to tell others about the financial pressures you're under, they may share with you the strategies they've used to help themselves in similar situations. Tell others of your fiscal successes, and you may inspire them to be more proactive in their own financial lives.
When it comes to money woes, becoming your own WikiLeaks could ultimately be one of the most Foolish moves you'll ever make.
We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Try any of our investing newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.