How to avoid financial infidelity with your partner

There’s nothing new about couples arguing about money. But have you ever lied to your spouse or partner about money or a financial issue? Believe it or not, it’s more common than you think.

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The Ascent by The Motley Fool surveyed 1,000 individuals who were in a serious relationship. 71 percent of respondents revealed that they committed at least one act of financial infidelity.

Hiding a purchase price was the most common form of financial deceit. Other examples of money secrets include undisclosed credit cards, hiding debt and secret savings accounts. Nathan Hamilton, industry analyst at the Ascent by the Motley Fool says couples can avoid financial infidelity by following these seven tips:

Develop a dialogue about money

Hamilton says couples should talk about finances early in the relationship, right when things are about to get serious. He says open and honest discussions can give you an indication of how your mate handles money.

“You got the typical stuff - which is discussing the checking account, joint savings accounts and how you manage those finances,” he says. “But it actually goes deeper than that. It’s a matter of also discussing insurances and maybe what debt you have because those can be surprising factors.”

Hamilton says early in a relationship, it’s common for couples not to trust how their mate manages finances. That’s why money talks with your partner are essential. Otherwise, it can cause stress in the relationship.  

Allow each partner fun money to spend

Trying to control what your partner buys all the time is a major contributing factor to financial infidelity. No one wants to feel as if their mate is treating them like a child. Hamilton says if each partner has a little bit of their own money to spend on anything at all, there’s no need for anyone to be dishonest.

Avoid being judgmental

If you’re always criticizing your partner’s spending, you are going to create a situation where he/she tries to hide purchases. Avoid using judgmental language and try to find a compromise budget. That way both partners can feel happy about what is spent and saved.

Share the work of managing finances

All too often in relationships, one person is more hands-on about money, while the other person knows little about the family finances. Hamilton says sharing finances is important because it gives both people a voice in the relationship. He says it's risky for one person to own the finances.

“If you share the work of managing finances there’s going to be fewer instances of people lying about purchases to each other or not feeling comfortable when they want to go for a spa day or buy a new trinket,” Hamilton says.

Deal with financial infidelity together

Have you or your partner committed financial infidelity? If you want to move past it together, you will have to come up with a joint plan. This will require being truthful with each other. Come clean about all of the secret money decisions.  Set ground rules together to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.

Know your deal breakers

There are different categories of things people may lie about. Hamilton says it’s important to know what purchases may lead to arguments or potential lies. Is your deal breaker a secret credit card?


What if your mate took out loans in your name without your permission? If the infidelity affects your finances, you may need to take steps to protect yourself, such as freezing your credit. Hamilton says counseling could potentially be a solution.

Consider counseling

Money is both a leading cause of disagreements and a top cause for divorce. Hamilton says the sooner you are able to find a way to talk openly and join forces to accomplish your financial goals, the less risk you have of doing damage to your relationship. If you can’t work out your differences, you may need an impartial person to help you get on the same page.

“Sometimes you just need an outside voice, an outside opinion to set processes in place that are going to make managing finances easier,” he says.

Linda Bell joined FOX Business Network (FBN) in 2014 as an assignment editor. She is an award-winning writer of business and financial content.  You can follow her on Twitter @lindanbell