Financial Infidelity Runs Rampant

Infidelity, a word that has ended marriages for years and strikes fear in the heart and mind of men and women everywhere. But what if your spouse was cheating with a 3.370 x 2.125 inch piece of plastic or the bank at the end of the block? Would your feelings about infidelity change?

What if you’re the unfaithful spouse, spending money on the kids, yourself or your home and not letting him know? I overheard a conversation at my son’s football practice the other day that got me thinking about this.

It started out innocently discussing shopping with kids in tow. When one mom spoke up and said, “I can’t take my daughter shopping with me. She always tattles to my husband about what I buy. But, I’ve figured out a workaround. If I buy housewares, clothes or shoes at Fred Meyer I can just slip it in with the groceries and he never knows.”

What followed was silence and a few nervous giggles, no one knew how to react. The comment reminded me of a survey I read last year that was commissioned by CESI Debt Solution which showed a whopping 80% of married couples spend money without their spouses knowledge.

At the time I remember thinking, okay big deal? I don’t want to hear about each pack of gum or soda that my husband purchases and he doesn’t care when I buy new socks for the kids (which was the bulk of the spending reported in the survey). However a more recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of National Endowment for Financial Education revealed that 1 in 3 adults (31%) with combined finances have committed financial infidelity or deception.

The deceit turned out to be more severe than going out to lunch with colleagues:

58% Hid Cash
54% Hid a minor purchase
30% Hid a bill
16% Hid a major purchase
15% Hid a bank account
11% Lied about debt
11% Lied about their earnings

What’s even more important to take into consideration is the outcome of financial cheating, it can be just as detrimental as any other infidelity. The Harris poll found that 16% of the adults surveyed say financial deceit ultimately led to divorce while another 11% say it led to a separation. As for affairs, no two reports can agree on the number, but the numbers range from 17-27%.

Does this illustrate to you how serious money issues are in a committed relationship? It should open your eyes and hopefully the lines of communication with your spouse.

Disclaimer: What I’m about to say in no way absolves the less-than truthful spouse of their sins.

These types of problems are the fault of both spouses. For this to be occurring on such a large scale there is an obvious breakdown in trust and communication. Financial matters are one part of marriage that must be handled as a team. The solution is to open the money discussion with your partner and build a solid foundation for your financial future.

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