3 Healthy Behaviors to Help Prevent Financial Infidelity

By Jessica Searcy Kmetty

Maybe it’s a small action, like moving your Amazon packages to a room your spouse rarely visits. Or perhaps you use cash to buy that fast food meal so there’s no paper trail (throw those wrappers away, too!)

But is that ok?

Is this simply human behavior, or are these lies?

And what if it becomes more?

What if you start making risky investments in an account your partner doesn’t check? What if you don’t share that you signed up for a new credit card because you’re addicted to spending? Or you loan money to a family member but don’t mention it to your partner because the family member paid it back so quickly.

According to a recent survey commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by Prolific, 38% have lied to a partner about finances. A recent poll from the National Endowment for Financial Education shows that 43% of adults with combined finances who are also in a relationship admitted to committing an act of financial deception.

I have seen instances where couples openly communicate on financial practices. One couple has their own credit cards so they can purchase gifts for each other without the other being aware (birthday, Christmas, etc.). Other couples maintain separate bank accounts and agree upon a budget for household and other shared expenses, but enjoy the extra freedom.

And while I have not seen many life-altering acts of financial infidelity, I see little white lies and reckless financial behavior frequently. The Forbes survey shows that “54% say lying about finances is equivalent to other kinds of lying or infidelity.”

Have you been financially unfaithful? Do you suspect your partner is financially unfaithful? Can financial infidelity be prevented?

Just like any marriage, there are things you can do to strengthen a relationship, but there’s never a 100% guarantee of preventing infidelity. Three important behaviors to help are:

1. Be involved. You can’t sit on the sidelines of your finances and then claim ignorance or be surprised by a huge discovery. Being involved keeps you in the loop (it doesn’t have to be 50/50 involvement), helps you uncover issues more quickly and empowers you with knowledge should something happen to your partner.

2. Create healthy boundaries. Determine what your comfort level is with regards to spending that you don’t run by your partner. Maybe anything over $200 outside of customary spending (groceries, routine bills, etc.), you run by each other first. It’s more of a courtesy/respect issue than someone being the “finance police.” Honor the boundaries.

3. Be open and honest. Check in frequently to make sure the boundaries are still working. Let the other know when you need help or are struggling with something.

Sometimes you can get past financial infidelity and sometimes you can’t. That’s life. But work together, ask your financial advisor for help, and respect yourself and your partner enough to stay faithful.

Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product made reference to directly or indirectly in this content, will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), or be suitable for you or your portfolio. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter (article) serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Searcy Financial Services, Inc.

The content of this letter does not constitute a tax or legal opinion. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax or legal matters specific to your situation. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed in this content, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  

Published for the blog on March 30, 2023 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.