Financial Infidelity and Its Ramifications

by Julia Chun

It is debated whether physical cheating or emotional cheating has worse implications on a relationship. But rarely is financial cheating discussed in popular media. Financial infidelity is when an individual hides information regarding their financial decisions and issues from their partner. According to a recent study conducted by the US News and World Report one third of couples experience financial infidelity in the US and a 2018 study conducted at the University of Southern Mississippi shows that this caused 10% of couples in the study to get divorced. Examples of financial infidelity include hiding large amounts of debt, hiding alternate streams of income, and lying about expenses.

Therefore, it is crucial to discuss finances with your partner frequently and honestly to set budgets and be transparent about any money issues. Money talk may be a taboo in our American fabric, however an increasing awareness of financial literacy’s importance should encourage conversations between couples. Reasons behind the secrecy around money may be due to shame, spending money on stigmatized activities, and mistrust of the partner. As Summer is fast approaching, and vacations are on the horizon, consider the importance of disclosing your expenditures and asking your partner about theirs. Only 8% of reveals are found out through confessions pointing to a lack of discussion.

Tips for having these money talks include:

  1. Discuss any outstanding debts or student loans
  2. How much credit card debt do you hold
  3. Be transparent about your income and decide
  4. Include a financial advisor in your process
  5. Decide on what equitable money spending may look like

In any couple, there are going to be differences in how much each individual earns and spends. Determining the involvement and level of financial independence and privacy are crucial first steps to preventing financial infidelity and problems down the line.