We’ve all heard of infidelity and emotional affairs, but what about financial infidelity?
This type of cheating involves hiding financial secrets from your partner. A 2018 study by the Financial Therapy Association found that 27% of Americans admitted to having done just that at some point.
Keeping such secrets is no way to reduce the level of financial stress in a relationship with. In fact, it is more likely to stir up money anxieties and undermine a couple’s bond.
If you’re not sure what financial habits indicate financial infidelity — and whether or not your own habits fit the bill — here are 10 financial secrets you should never hide from a spouse or partner.
1. Open a secret bank account
Opening a personal bank account without telling your partner is one of the biggest warning signs of financial infidelity. In a committed financial relationship, you and your partner need to be open and honest about your bank accounts.
You may or may not have a joint checking or savings account – the important thing is that neither of you hide any of your finances from the other.
2. Get a raise or bonus at work
Hiding positive changes in your finances may not seem as problematic as hiding a debt, but the truth is that keeping any financial secret points to financial infidelity.
If you don’t want to tell your partner that you recently got a raise, bonus, or promotion at work, you should ask yourself why.
Are you worried that your partner won’t celebrate with you? Do you think they might blame your success? Or do you just want to keep them in the dark about this major change in your financial situation?
3. Rack up debt with secret credit cards
In most, but not all, states, your spouse generally cannot be held liable for debts you incur after marriage. But that doesn’t give you the green light to go into debt on the sly without consequences.
Accumulating enough debt on multiple credit cards can push your finances to the brink and may eventually force you into bankruptcy. And a massive financial blow like bankruptcy impacts not only your credit score and financial future, but your spouse’s as well.
4. Make a major purchase without discussing it
Buying something small and within your budget – like a cup of coffee or a packet of chewing gum – without telling your partner is not a red flag. But making a big purchase without discussing it with your partner first is.
Big purchases like cars often require financing, and taking out a loan with a high interest rate can ruin your bottom line for years or even decades.
Alternatively, if you buy something like a car or a boat out of pocket, you’ll likely shell out thousands of dollars from a shared budget without your partner’s consent.
Such a choice can have devastating consequences both on your household budget and on your couple, especially on your partner’s ability to trust you.
5. Take out a second mortgage
Taking out a second mortgage adds another mortgage payment to your monthly list of bills to pay. Second mortgages are riskier for the lender than primary mortgages, which means they usually have higher rates.
In other words, a second mortgage usually requires more than a small adjustment to your monthly budget. And if you try to avoid living paycheck to paycheckit may not be possible to accept a second mortgage payment.
Getting a second mortgage without your partner’s knowledge and consent can be devastating to your joint finances and your relationship.
6. Failing to mention late bill payments
It’s hard to admit that you can’t afford to pay a household bill that you promised to pay. But lying about it and just hoping your partner won’t notice is much worse than talking openly and honestly about overdue bills with your partner.
Missing a bill can cost you more than the cost of the missed payment and late fees. Paying the bill late can mean you can’t make other payments on time, which can quickly put your household in debt.
7. Not discussing debts or late payments that impacted your credit score
Anything that lowers your credit score will likely end up affecting your partner, especially if you plan to make major joint purchases like a house or a car.
So, whenever your credit score takes a hit, you need to discuss it with your partner as it impacts their financial future as well as yours.
8. Lying about paying full price for a purchase
Financial infidelity isn’t just about hiding money, cards, and debts from your partner: it can also mean directly lying to your partner about how much you paid for a purchase.
If you’re tempted to justify an expense by saying you got it on sale or telling your partner it cost a lot less, you need to hit the brakes.
Lying to a partner, whether it’s about the true cost of a purchase or working overtime when you’re actually having a drink with a friend, is a clear sign of infidelity.
9. Spending money on other family members without talking about it
You and your partner should be on the same page about how much to spend on other family members, especially children or other household dependents.
If you find yourself secretly spending more on the kids than you previously agreed, sit down and ask yourself why.
10. Hide a purchase
As we said above, it’s probably not a big deal if you secretly splurge on your guilty pleasure once in a while, as long as it doesn’t jeopardize your finances and those of your partner.
But constantly buying things on the sly, storing those purchases out of sight, and destroying receipts saves your spouse from making critical financial decisions that impact your family’s bottom line.
At the end of the line
Financial infidelity can be much harder to recognize in your relationship than the more common types of cheating. If you see any of these signs in your own financial habits, consider it a red flag.
It is always better to talk about these issues. For example, if you have accumulated debt, tell your partner. Then find a way to generate additional revenuerepay the debt and pledge never to hide such behavior again.
Now is the time to come clean with your partner and work to rebuild a financially sound partnership.
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