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Have You Lied to Your Partner About Money

couple in disagreement

Say ‘I Do’ to Financial Fidelity

Financial infidelity may start with a 'harmless' small purchase that you don’t tell your spouse or partner about. But it quickly can snowball into a larger problem that can lead to devastating financial consequences for you and your family. 

Have you ever:

  • Hidden a major purchase
  • Kept a secret checking account/credit card
  • Lied about money earned
  • Lied about outstanding debts
  • Hidden a bill or receipt
  • Hidden cash
  • 'Forgotten' to tell your spouse about extracurricular spending (sporting bets/day-trading/online shopping)

A NEFE survey found that 2 in 5 Americans who have combined their finances admitted to financial infidelity in their relationships. Many others admitted to lying to their spouses about money, and another 42 percent of these adults said they’d been deceived.

Of the couples whom experienced financial infidelity, 75 percent said it affected current or past relationships in some way:

  • 38 percent said the deception led to an argument.
  • 28 percent said it caused a loss of trust in the relationship.
  • 1 percent said it led to separation as a couple.
  • 12 percent said the money cheating led to a divorce.

If you have lied about money or have been financially unfaithful, come clean. Even if you feel guilty, have rationalized the spending, or fear your spouse’s reaction, take the time to work through your financial infidelity together and start anew.

Proactive Pointers to Start the Conversation

Disclose the details. Use the upcoming tax season to engage in full financial disclosure with your spouse or significant other to get a better grasp of your shared finances and money and to recommit financially to each other.

Review your financials. Whether it’s the first time, or a review, explore all aspects of your finances including:

  • Outstanding credit debt
  • Student loans
  • Annual income
  • Savings
  • Your individual philosophies on money and spending

Understand your values. Take LifeValues Quiz to help identify your individual values as they relate to money. It will help you explain to your partner why you make certain financial decisions and help you fix your money problems.

Gauge your current situation. Pull your most recent credit scores, credit card statements, student loan summaries and 401(k) statements to make sure you both are clear on where you stand financially as a couple.

Make a money date. Act as your family’s Chief Financial Officer by setting a standing monthly meeting for you and your spouse or partner to review your family’s budget and review progress made against your family’s financial goals. When there's regular accountability it's harder to lie about money.

Set milestone parties. Celebrate financial progress made toward your goals by taking the family for ice cream, opening a vacation savings account or commemorating in another special way.

Keep the lines of communication open. Everyone makes mistakes. If you or your loved one deviates from the budget, talk through what led to the questionable spending and work through it together. Addressing money problems rather than hiding them will allow you to avoid falling into past patterns of dishonesty.

[Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by the National Endowment for Financial Education.]