Is Your Spouse Committing Financial Infidelity?

TODAY.com, the online home of America’s No. 1 morning program, and SELF, the leading women’s well-being magazine, unveiled results of their joint “Financial Infidelity” survey which found that nearly half the respondents acknowledged keeping money secrets from their partner.

The online “financial infidelity” survey found that 46 percent of people have lied to their partner about money, confessing to a wide range of money secrets, including lying about purchases, hiding them in the back of the closet and clandestinely withdrawing money from joint accounts.

The extensive poll of 23,000 online users also found that more than 60 percent of both men and women think cheating is cheating, whether it’s financial or sexual. Two-thirds told us that honesty about money is as important as remaining monogamous. About one-third said financial infidelity can sometimes lead to sexual infidelity.

The survey also found that women are more likely than men to keep money secrets. The most common financial fibs involved shopping, such as pretending something was on sale. A minority – under 10 percent – confessed to more serious spending secrets, including secret bank accounts or hidden credit cards. About 13 percent of respondents said they’d broken up or gotten divorced over secretive spending habits.

“Discussing money can be very awkward, but it is important to have this conversation with your partner early on,” states SELF Editor-in-Chief, Lucy Danziger. “To have a successful relationship, you need to have trust and hiding money secrets is a huge way to break that confidence. Open up about past debts, then lay some ground rules for the future and have a mutual agreement on your expenses.  This openness will save you from many fights in the end and lead to a much healthier relationship.”

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Is Your Partner Cheating On You Financially?
31% Admit Money Deception

Jenna Goudreau, Forbes Staff, I write about navigating success for professional women.

Financial infidelity may be the new normal. In a recent survey, one in three Americans (31%) who have combined their finances admitted lying to their spouses about money, and another one-third of these adults said they’d been deceived.

The online poll, commissioned by ForbesWoman and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) and conducted by Harris Interactive, surveyed 2,019 U.S. adults from December 17 to 21. Among both offenders and victims, the leading money crimes were hiding cash, minor purchases and bills. Meanwhile, a significant number of people admitted hiding major purchases, keeping secret bank accounts and lying about their debt or earnings.

“A third of the population admits to not being honest with their spouse,” says NEFE chief executive Ted Beck. “That is a big number. These indiscretions cause significant damage to the relationship.”

Among couples impacted by financial infidelity, 67% said the deception led to an argument and 42% said it caused less trust in the relationship. Perhaps most alarming, 16% of these respondents said the money lie led to a divorce and 11% said it led to a separation.

“Betrayal regarding money can be just as painful and damaging as other kinds of cheating,” says Tina Tessina, psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. When a partner is caught concealing huge amounts of debt or involved in money-related addictions, the result can be a “total loss of trust, feelings of betrayal and destruction of the relationship.”

Seattle-based Theo Pauline Nestor, 49, learned this the hard way and eventually published an account of her experience, How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed. She and her husband were happily married for 13 years until one day in 2003 when she noticed a curious dip in their joint checking account. When she confronted her husband, a real estate agent with unpredictable hours, she discovered he’d been secretly gambling for years. Not only had he opened several credit cards without her knowledge, he’d racked up thousands of dollars in debt.

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