Research shows financial infidelity is on the rise. Financial infidelity is any lying, hiding, or hoarding of money in a relationship. And, frankly, it is a perfect recipe for divorce. But, the good news is there are definitely ways to avoid financial infidelity.
When we were in Denver filming a segment for the Everyday Show Kathie J told us about a friend of a friend that learned her husband hid $100,000 of credit card debt. Apparently, he moved the huge amount from one card to another over and over and over, until he couldn’t keep track of it anymore. He confessed to her. (Good for him!) And she freaked out. (We totally get that.)
We are hearing more and more about financial infidelity which is concerning. Although, we both agreed, this dude really is an overachiever. The highest hidden amount we had seen up to that point was about $40,000 in secret debt. Financially, think of the interest payment alone and as a spouse think of the years of dishonesty it must have taken to amass that kind of debt. Then add another $60,000 and you can, maybe, start to imagine how Kathie J’s friend of a friend felt.
Life is expensive. And we all make mistakes. But that means we need to be on the alert to avoid financial infidelity.
We can all recover from our little errors and even our big errors if we work together.
On the west coast we heard about a couple that was trying so hard to avoid debt together they downsized from a house to a studio apartment. They had lots of student loans so they agreed that a smaller space was a good move right now. They said they were barely squeaking by with only about an extra $20 week. And they thought they were doing well. She said she remembered thinking “this doesn’t feel that bad”. But that was before she found the statement for the credit card she had no idea they had. He had been covering the “extras” of life with a secret card. It wasn’t that he was just spending on himself. He had made the cutback seem fun and even brought her flowers several times, but he never told her the truth.
She was so hurt by his dishonesty. Which totally stinks, but you kind of wonder “if you were living on such a tight budget…as you were putting the roses in the vase, didn’t you kind of wonder where that extra cash for this purchase was coming from?” We wonder if she suspected, but avoided asking.
According to Creditcards.com, 31% of people admit that they’ve hidden money in the past from their spouse or significant other. Which may mean that number is really probably 50% tossing in those not willing to admit that they have. So if half of couples or even one third are hiding money from their spouse is there really a way to avoid financial infidelity? And does it really matter?
Yes. It matters 100%!
In fact, we don’t see a big difference between financial infidelity and sexual infidelity. If you are going out of your way to hide things from your partner sleeping next to you each night, money is just the way it’s manifesting itself. There’s something lurking there. What is the motivation behind the secrets?
Is it selfishness, fear, control, distrust, or something else?
Whatever the source of your sneaky behavior (or your spouse’s), you can put an end to the dishonesty and make your marriage stronger for the decades with these 3 ways to avoid financial infidelity:
1. 100% access to 100% of your financial information.
You don’t need to discuss every dollar you spend, but you do need to welcome your mate to ask or look at the finances at anytime. Trust your spouse enough to share all account information and passwords.
Scott and I have been married a long time so our agreement now is that if we find something we want to spend over $200 on we snap a photo and send it to the other asking for input. If Scott tells me, “I’m not so sure about that.” I wait and discuss it with him later. It doesn’t mean, “No” it just means not right now or let’s talk about it. We have found it helps each of us decide is this a need or a want?
This may not sound right for your relationship, but some parameters of sharing are helpful. Do you want to know if any charges are made to the card? If you’re trying to cut back would you like a heads up before eating out? Or hitting a sale?
Whatever the comfort levels you’d like to establish are, remember you’re doing it to share with one another not judge. Most of us agreed in our vows we would share with the other in honesty and love. Looking for ways to avoid financial infidelity helps you keep those vows.
You whole-heartedly believe you can have multiple accounts, but have to be transparent. We have three accounts for our two businesses and our personal one, and both of us can look at any information in any of the accounts whenever we want.
2. Give your Spender freedom to spend.
Most people don’t realize this, but some people are just hardwired to spend money. It doesn’t make them a bad or wrong. They just enjoy spending more than others might.
We discovered this in our relationship and working with other couples. The differences and the pain they were causing for couples compelled us to get to the bottom of it. So we hired a statistical scientist from Stanford to help us understand the differences in individual’s approach to money.
We found that there are 5 Money Personalities and everyone has two–a primary and secondary. People lead with their primary, but in some situations the secondary can really take over. You can learn about this here and take our free, confidential, online Money Personality Assessment to see what yours are. In 8-10 minutes you discover your primary and secondary approach to money. It may explain A LOT.
If you find that you have one of these primary or secondary Money Personalities, you and your spouse need to agree on some leeway for you to spend.
If you are one or your spouse is, make a plan for some spending at your house. Cranking down the budget too tight on these personalities may send them in the opposite direction.
It’s not that they’re trying to be totally dishonest, but they just need to spend a little. They are wired that way. The amount doesn’t have to tons of money, but they enjoy spending on themselves, you, and others. So plan for that.
Also if your spouse needs to spend money on running the house and the kids and you don’t have a good understanding of how much it costs you may drive him or her to be secret about spending to accomplish what they need to for the household.
Allowing for spending says, “I trust you and I honor who you are.” Marriage is not about forcing someone to be like you.
There is a good and bad aspect of every Money Personality, but no combination is more right or totally wrong. Honor your spouse or explain yourself if you would feel better about having a spending plan in place.
3. Be ready to be gracious.
It shouldn’t hurt to be honest in your relationship. If the result of being honest in your relationship is pain, you may be less likely to be honest. When someone—your spouse, your child, your friend, a relative– comes to you with honesty, respect their courage. Be gracious. There is something about you already that made them feel safe in approaching you so we applaud you.
Find a way to forgive their mistake.
You may even ask if you did something to contribute to the hiding. Dig deep and find a way to promote a loving, warm relationship. It’s not a competition. Or if you like competition, you can see life that way BUT remember you two are on the same team. Working together not against each other.
God made us all different and our Money Personalities are part of that awesome uniqueness. Don’t let it ruin your relationship. You can always earn more money or pay off debt, but your relationship is priceless.
If your marriage is suffering from financial infidelity or you suspect it and don’t know how to proceed, enlist the help of a qualified friend or hire a coach. Divorce is so painful and VERY expensive. Invest in forgiveness and moving forward together.
Be the couple that his totally honest, works together, and takes steps to avoid financial infidelity.
Make it happen!