December 3, 2018

"Researchers have identified 14 behaviors that qualify as financial infidelity."

"They include lying about a purchase (unless it’s a gift for the person you’re lying to, of course), pretending a new purchase is an old one, hiding purchases/receipts, taking money out of savings without telling a spouse, hiding credit card statements, concealing debts, opening a secret credit card, and filing for bankruptcy without telling a spouse (which seems like it would be very difficult to pull off, but has apparently been done). You won’t find many people willing to admit to having done any of these things, but a separate study by the National Endowment of Financial Education found that about 50 percent of Americans have. Meanwhile, another survey showed that people consider these actions to be an extreme breach of trust, on par with sexual infidelity. Lying is lying, after all. But is it really? When they gathered data, psychologists found something interesting: Many people were engaging in financial infidelity without realizing it, or even knowing that they’d done anything wrong...."

From "How to Know If Your Partner Is Financially ‘Cheating’ in Your Relationship" (NY Magazine).

35 comments:

gspencer said...

"Many people were engaging in financial infidelity without realizing it, or even knowing that they’d done anything wrong."

In that case they weren't financially unfaithful.

And what about spouses who keep separate bank accounts because the account/s would be screwed up to a fare-thee-well with two people writing checks on the same account/s, no one knowing what the available balance/s might be.

Seeing Red said...

Oh, that old thing?

mccullough said...

Trivial. No such thing as a Financially Transmitted Infection.

Earnest Prole said...

More than thirty years together and my wife never asks about the books, movies, and music that are constantly turning up around our house, so I guess a little financial infidelity is good for a marriage.

Jupiter said...

Does buying boats count?

MB said...

This is trying to have it both ways. Looks like an attempt at having the benefits of the older traditional complementary arrangements without the inconvenience.
In the old days, ideally, the husband earned most of the income and the wife managed the family's budget / household etc.. Men:public sphere :: women:private sphere.
Now this division of labor has lost much of its practical importance, so none of the spouses has (or ought to have) an automatic claim to the other's income.
At a time when it is common for spouses to sleep in separate beds, when in some circles open marriages are common, when divorce is almost expected, why shouldn't spouses keep their finances separate as well.
It is curious that the financial aspect of a relationship and common ownership of goods should be what they really care about. The article's claim is pitifully weak.

stevew said...

Isn't it true that the couple's total income determines at which dollar value financial infidelity is reached? I bought a $1500 guitar once without consulting my wife, she was annoyed not because I spent the money without asking, but because she thought it would have made a great Christmas gift.

Henry said...

The "how to know" part is pure tabloid hook. How to know if Giorgio is cheating on Juliet? How to know if Juliet is spending money on a private detective? How to know? How to know? How to know?

Before you get to "how to know" you have "how to suspect", but that gets fewer clicks.

Henry said...

Lists are always fun.

Simon identifies 50 ways to leave your lover.

XTC identifies 5 senses working overtime.

Leland said...

No such thing as a Financially Transmitted Infection.

I get this is a joke. Still, debt in a marriage is a shared thing in most cases. A spouse can run up debt that both are responsible for paying. A divorce might be able to sort out some of it, but it is a tough cure for the bad disease.

n.n said...

It seems that the unvarnished truth of "we are not kids anymore", is limited to sexual promiscuity, and little else.

That's one small step forward for man and woman. One giant leap backward for humanity.

Paul said...

What about buying something and simply not telling the spouse? Not trying to hide it but just, you know, buy it or put it on lay-a-way?

Or is every little purchase supposed to be OKed by both parties?

Michael The Magnificent said...

My best friend's second wife is guilty of 7 out of 8 of these.

And in the divorce, she wanted to split the debt that she brought into the marriage ($80K) and accumulated during the marriage, and split the assets that he brought into the marriage (a house, two cars) and accumulated during the marriage.

Never get married without getting a full criminal background check, and credit and banking reports.

And if he/she balks at providing the necessary information to pull these reports, do NOT get married.

EDH said...

See, I don't get this.

The first order question is: whose money is it?

I think a healthy relationship recognizes both individual and shared spheres of privacy and control with respect to finances and business.

As long as you act as a fiduciary with shared resources and promised obligations, do what you want with your own money.

If you don't like the common law, get a pre-nup.

Never being married myself, yet, worse than financial infidelity, did I just bespeak marital blasphemy?

gilbar said...

If spouses would be more understanding of the Need for new fly rods, these problems wouldn't be problems. Yes, a Helios 3 is about $850 (plus a couple (or several) hundred dollars for a nice reel): But, they're about the best Graphite rods made; and cast So Well.

And, once you got a few Helios (4wt, 6wt (&there's the distance versions as well as finesse))
You'll be able to appreciate the beauty that is a hand made, split bamboo rod...

And once you've got some nice new bamboos; you'll be able to Finally Understand Classic bamboos, like a Granger, or a HL Leonard.... And then, There's Garrison

PB said...

More input for the new social credit system.

cubanbob said...

This isn't a problem when both members of the couple are people of integrity. But love (or lust) can blind one to the failings of the other half.

Original Mike said...

We both make/made the money, we both spend it. No need to check with the other (within reason).

Hunter said...

Most married couples these days seem to keep separate finances. Like a joint venture. If both people have sense, it works much better to just combine into one, and be accountable to each other. Each person gets $X per month of no-strings-attached pocket money to spend, or pile up for something later if they prefer. Any other purchases aside from bills and necessities have to be discussed. Shared goals, shared plan.

If the thought of commingling all your finances with your spouse freaks you out, then your issue might not be precisely about money.

Original Mike said...

Now, when I buy a new telescope, I tell her.

whitney said...

I have a relative that lies about the price of everything she purchases. And the weird part is she volunteers the price. I made a joke to another relative you know how much it is if you just double whatever she tells you. It's such a odd behavior

Freeman Hunt said...

"Meanwhile, another survey showed that people consider these actions to be an extreme breach of trust, on par with sexual infidelity."

I am skeptical of this claim.

reader said...

The rule in my house (ok, I know the house is ours but for purposes of this rule it’s mine) if I buy something (like a rug, table, chair, or even say a sofa) and he doesn’t notice it for two weeks on the fifteenth day it is no longer new.

My son will notice the smallest change while my husband will sit on a new sofa without noticing, at least for fourteen days.

This has worked for us for twenty-four years.

James K said...

If the thought of commingling all your finances with your spouse freaks you out, then your issue might not be precisely about money.

We have joint and separate accounts. The joint is for household expenses, school tuition, etc. We each work, we each contribute to the joint account. What's left we can do what we want with, essentially. That seems to work pretty well.

Mountain Maven said...

This is false equvalence. Sexual infidelity is far, far worse a devestating blow to the spouse. People like the author pretend to deny it. A marriage never really recovers from infidelity.

jaydub said...

I am fortunate to have a spouse who is financially astute, thrifty and trustworthy, as is she, but we still have seven bank accounts (individual checking and savings accounts, plus joint accounts for each of three properties,) individual retirement accounts and several separate and one joint brokerage accounts. This number of accounts is explicitly for the purpose of granularity so that we can understand trends in our finances and apply timely corrective action if required. At the end of the month all these accounts are reconciled and entered into a spreadsheet along with income, expense and estimated tax totals for the month, then projected monthly for a ten year period at a given inflation rate and investment rate of return. Part of the reconciliation each month is a comparison of actual results for the month versus projected results, followed by a pareto analysis of the misses for the month by account. We then decide what tweaks we should apply by account to correct any negative trends and/or improve future overall performance. In other words, we apply the same type of lean policy deployment and management principles to our household as we would to a business, and each partner in the household is always fully aware of the household's net worth every month. That is not to imply that we don't budget discretionary spending, only that we stick to the budget. Neither of us objects to any expenditure by the other that is budgeted, but both of us have to agree on any large purchase or unbudgeted expense. Being undisciplined regarding personal finances, particularly when retired like us, is irresponsible, and we believe a successful partnership must be based on open and responsible actions, whether those actions are of a moral or financial nature.

Narayanan Subramanian said...

**Many people were engaging in financial infidelity without realizing it, or even knowing that they’d done anything wrong..***
I can Wait till economists and poli-sci people start using this finding to discuss politics and deficits

tim maguire said...

Some of those things are a betrayal (bankruptcy), some of them are just this side of nothing (making a purchase without checking in), but none of them are infidelity. That term was obviously chosen to help get the piece published.

tim in vermont said...

I always get a kick out of those commercials where one spouse buys two new cars as a surprise to the other.

West Texas Intermediate Crude said...

Over several decades of marriage, I have committed financial adultery by opening credit card accounts without informing the wife. After I start feeling "guilty," I give her the cards.
I don't think that's the same as a physical affair, but I never went to relationship college.

Francisco D said...

We always kept separate finances without difficulty. I have to negotiate with my spouse when it comes to large purchases. We probably make better financial decisions that way.

My father used to come home with a new car and say "Look what I got." Those days are over for most people, but apparently lots of people buy cars as Christmas gifts as evidenced by an increase in car commercials on TV this time of year.

Colin said...

Identified? More like opined.

Jamie said...

When we had less money, we set a dollar limit on what either of us could spend without consulting the other. Now, I spend almost all the day-to-day money (that is, almost all the money we spend, period), he spends almost all the big-ticket money (vacations, for instance), he acts primarily as CFO and I as COO of the family, and... if he's already in a bad mood, I sometimes delay telling him about purchases or expenditures that I know will upset him more. Such as the time (I still cringe) that I bumped ever so lightly into a concrete bollard with a loaner car, causing a scratch the size of my thumbnail, and my $200 car repair turned into a $1200 car-repair-plus-body-work-cost-for-the-loaner, since you can no longer "buff out" anything on a fiberglass bumper.

I was brought up Catholic, so I always confess in the end. But sometimes some time elapses between the event and the confession. Most of the time, it turns out that he doesn't give a hoot anyway; all the time, he trusts me not to be profligate.

Rosa Marie Yoder said...

This reminds me of a friend's situation. He said that if he ever marries again, she will have to first provide an audited financial statement. Funny, but it seems that he's serious.

I have another point of view. The author assumes that both husband and wife wish to be fully engaged in the financial health of their household, and that's not necessarily true. Some don't care what the balance is in the checkbook as long as the bills are paid. All I need to say is, "Honey, things are a little tight right now," and he'll say, "Okay." No further questions. Works for me.

PatHMV said...

Freeman, you know how these studies work. They run a survey that says "how would you feel if a spouse committed financial infidelity, liking buying a brand new Ferrari without discussing it." And the responses all say "that would be an extreme breach of trust, like an affair." Then they run a second survey, saying "have you ever lied or misled your spouse about the price of an item, or bought something without discussing it with them? We categorize this behavior as "financial infidelity". The second survey finds that 99.99% of men have committed financial infidelity under that extremely broad definition. Then you combine the two studies, and BOOM! 99.99 of men have committed financial infidelity that's as bad as sexual infidelity.