Are You Committing Financial Infidelity?
We are aware of the effects marital infidelity may have on a relationship. There is also another form of deception that causes irreparable harm: Financial Infidelity, a form of financial deception that can wreck relationships. This is when one partner believes there is open and honest communication about household finances, and the other is being deceptive about it.
Two-thirds of adults in relationships combine finances with their partner, according to a January 2016 Harris Poll from the National Endowment for Financial Education. Of those, 42% admitted they have committed financial infidelity, compared to 31% in 2011. The study also found that 70% of women and 63% of men agreed that being honest about money was as important as being monogamous.
Certainly, misrepresenting how much you spend on shoes or golf may not be considered a significant betrayal. However, a long-term pattern of being deceptive about money may signal deeper rifts, and may be damaging, nonetheless.
Financial infidelity may or may not be perceived as unseemly as “cheating,” but both actions have something in common: They both involve secrets and lies, and can ultimately devastate a relationship.
Sometimes you don’t know there’s a problem until you face a financial crisis. But red flags that should make you suspicious your partner is committing financial infidelity include:
- Your spouse consistently changes the subject or becomes argumentative when you bring up money concerns.
- He or she wants sole control of your finances or insists on keeping financial accounts/passwords secret.
- You uncover hidden cash either in your home or in a bank account that you didn’t know about, or you discover new credit cards or lines of credit opened in your partner’s name.
- You spot unexpected suspicious withdrawals from investment or other accounts.
If you have reason to believe that your partner is concealing assets or moving
money into hidden accounts, it is wise to seek the advice of a forensic accountant and/or a financial advisor. However, before hiring a professional, attempt an open, honest conversation with your partner about money. Then build a plan that suits your situation.
TIPS FOR FINANCIAL COMMUNICATION:
- Be transparent about any money owed.
- Solve problems early enough so they do not worsen.
- Set a regular time (weekly, monthly, quarterly) to discuss the family finances.
- Both partners should be involved in paying household bills, as this creates checks and balances.
- Limit or eliminate individual accounts (bank, credit, etc.) and make them joint.
- Agree on an amount over which (i.e., $250), there is an automatic discussion before the expenditure.
- Agree that all online account access may be shared by both partners.
- If you cannot come to an agreement Identify a neutral third party—a financial planner, pastor, or therapist—who can help you work it out and begin to rebuild trust.
Douglas J. Eaton, is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary,® CDFA® at Eaton Financial Group in Coral Springs. In business since 1996, Eaton Financial Group is a financial advisory firm focused on the best interests of their family of clients.
Outside of work, Doug is first a husband and father. He also focuses on his community: In addition to serving as the current President of the Parkland Chamber of Commerce, he is also on the Board of Directors at Coral Springs Coconut Creek Regional Chamber of Commerce, mentors DECA students, volunteers time with several community-based organizations, and serves as the Race Director for the RUN 4 BEIGEL.
At Eaton Financial Group, we believe that values matter and we live by ours every day: Live Well – Work Hard – Give Generously. To discuss this article or a financial topic of your concern/interest, contact us for a FREE cup of coffee (at our office or virtually), so we may offer a second (or first) opinion on your situation.