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Financial Infidelity Breaks Hearts and Budgets

In “The gift you don’t want for Valentine’s Day,”  CNBC discusses financial infidelity. The article opens with a story about how a spouse ended up revealing the credit card debt he had hidden from his wife during a session with a financial advisor.

The article offers things to look out for but it is not an exhaustive list and noticing one thing does not mean that you should assume the worst.

Hidden information:

If you used to get financial statements in the mail but they stop arriving, look into what happened to these statements. It may be easier to track financial infidelity online if you have access to online accounts but if will be hard to know if your spouse has opened new accounts. Still, there will be a paper trail or some records of financial transactions that were hidden from you.

Changes in behavior:

Has your partner started behaving differently with regards to money? This could mean spending a lot of money, including buying you a lot of expensive things. Or it might look like a spouse who was rather uninterested in budgeting suddenly wanting to know where every penny is going.

While in some instances, financial infidelity is related to a full-blown marital affair, this is not always they case. Deceiving your spouse about finances is considered financial infidelity. This may be secret spending or secret hoarding. And while experts can define betrayal, each individual has their own idea of what is too much to bear: it might be racking up huge amounts of debt or for some it could mean ignoring the family budget, shopping and hiding bags to sneak in later when the your spouse isn’t aware.

The article cites a survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education which found that 2 in 5 people have deceived their partner about finances.

It is a good idea to be aware of household finances in general and not specifically because you fear your partner may deceive you. However, it is easier for one spouse to deceive the other if one does not pay attention to family spending or if one person is completely in charge of paying the household bills.