If you’re hiding money or debt from a significant other, it still breeds mistrust in your relationship.

[Michelle] Hey guys, Miss Money Michelle here. Have you ever suspected infidelity in your relationship? No? How about financial infidelity? Did you know that over 12 million Americans are hiding bank accounts and even credit card statements from their significant other? Gotcha thinking, don’t I? So, we’ve decided to hit the streets of Wynwood, Miami to ask Americans just what they think about this situation.
[Michelle] What is your opinion on financial infidelity?
[Respondent 1] Well, to be honest, I don’t agree with the idea, but I do think that everybody needs a[sic] freedom.
[Respondent 2] When you’re thinking about marriage, when you get to that thought, I think that that should be something that should be on the table because you need to know what you’re getting into.
[Respondent 3] I guess you could say it’s as bad as infidelity, in general, right?
[Respondent 4] In relationships, you should trust each other with everything and finances is something that’s pretty big. It’s not really something that you can just throw to the site.
[On-screen text] Interesting Fact: 59% of Americans say finances played a role in their divorce. Yet many of those couples never had the “money talk.”
[Michelle] If you were in a relationship and you found out that your significant other was hiding money, do you think it’s just as bad cheating?
[Respondent 2] No. But when you find out that way, again, it does build mistrust.
[Respondent 3] Like if, someone is trying to keep something from you it’s always a bad thing, so…
[Michelle] It’s kind of hurting the honesty that you’re supposed be keeping in a relationship, right?
[Respondent 3] Exactly. Absolutely.
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What is financial infidelity?

Financial infidelity covers many things, but it boils down to knowingly withholding important financial information from your partner. That can take a lot of different forms:

  • You can hide money by not divulging your full income to your partner
  • Hiding a bank account from a spouse when you have a joint account together
  • Opening a credit card your significant other doesn’t know about
  • Hiding money before a divorce so it’s not included in the settlement
  • Using a partner’s credit card or credit identity without their knowledge
  • Secretly saving money from your spouse so they don’t spend it

Yes, even that last one counts as financial infidelity. Even though in that case, you’re probably doing it with good intentions, it’s still dishonest. Financial infidelity essentially creates a divide in your relationship. No matter what form it takes, it breeds mistrust between you and your partner. And when your partner finds out, it’s probably going to turn into a pretty ugly fight.

When is the right time to be honest about your finances?

As I wrote a week ago, most people feel like sharing financial information on the first date is well into the realm of oversharing. Only 1 percent of women and 15 percent of men are willing to discuss their finances on a first date.

But oddly, only one third of Americans (34 percent) think finances should be discussed by the time the relationship gets serious. It leads us to wonder when the other 66 percent think the money talk should happen. Before you move in together? Before you get married?

Debt.com founder and CPA Howard Dvorkin ascribes to the idea that earlier is always better when it comes to having the money talk.

“You need to know that your partner’s goals are aligned with your own or it will eventually create friction in your relationship,” Dvorkin explains. “If one person is a saver and the other is a spender, it doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed. However, you need to be open and honest so you can figure out how to move forward together as a couple. Just like you discuss whether or not you want to have children, you need to discuss if you want to own a home, or carrying credit card debt or work during your retirement.”

That’s the kind of conversation that’s easier the earlier that you do it. If you move in together without talking about money, there’s a high probability of tension as you try to manage money as one household. And money fights have a way of ending relationships.

Is there ever a situation where financial infidelity is acceptable?

This really depends on where you are in your relationship and the outcome you want to achieve. There’s no rule that says you and even a spouse must share everything, but things should at least be out in the open. For instance, if you want to maintain separate bank accounts and manage money individually, that’s fine. But you should at least talk about your accounts, budgeting habits, debt and credit.

The more honest you are, the more likely it is that your relationship will last. That being said, if things are ending then how honest you should be really depends on the status of your relationship.

Trying to hide money during a divorce is against the law. You must disclose all your assets so the court can divide them accordingly. During the proceedings, you sign a Financial Affidavit where you swear that you disclosed all assets. If you didn’t, then you committed perjury.

On the other hand, if you are in an abusive relationship, then there could be good reason to hide money. If you need to flee, then you’re going to need funds to get away and set up somewhere else. You may need to pay for accommodations if you can’t get to a shelter, as well as funds to cover basic necessities. You can eventually apply for grants to help with things like housing costs, bit in the interim you may need money to get away. In this case, the ends justify the means.

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Meet the Author

Michelle Bryan

Michelle Bryan

Public Relations and Communications Manager

Ms. Bryan is the Public Relations and Communications Manager for Debt.com.


divorce, man on the street, marriage

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Article last modified on August 31, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Money on the Street Interviews: Is Financial Infidelity Just as Bad as Cheating? - AMP.