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Hiding something? From secret accounts to big spending, survey shows financial infidelity is common

35% of Americans believe financial cheating is worse than physical infidelity
Financial infidelity is more common than you might think
Financial infidelity is taken very seriously in relationships
Posted at 12:54 PM, Jan 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-22 15:04:07-05

Are you keeping a costly secret from your partner, like buying an expensive item and not telling them? Financial infidelity can take a toll on both your wallet and your relationship.

Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst for Bankrate, defines financial infidelity as keeping money secrets from your spouse or partner. According to Bankrate's new survey, it happens more often than you might expect.

"It is surprisingly common," Rossman said. "The point is though, that secrets can hurt. The other person's really left wondering like, 'Hey, what else am I missing?'"

The survey found 42% of U.S. adults who are married or living with a partner have kept at least one money secret.

Top Financial Secrets:

Secret spending: 30%
Secret debt: 23%
Secret credit card: 18%
Secret savings account: 19%
Secret checking account: 17%

While Rossman says most people are forgiving if you come clean, getting caught in the lie will make the situation worse. "Money is very emotional to people," Rossman said.

"More than one in three think that financial cheating is at least as bad, if not worse than physical cheating."
Ted Rossman

If you're the one keeping a financial secret, it's not too late to make changes. If you have a secret spending problem, target your habits.

"Sleep on it before you make a decision," said Rossman. He encourages anyone who struggles with overspending to put a pause in place, extending that cooling-off period based on the cost of the purchase.

If you know you're susceptible to impulse buys, you don't have to quit, but Rossman advises you build money into the budget so that your spending doesn't take you or your partner by surprise.

To prevent one-click purchase regret while online shopping, put a barrier in place. "Don't link your card info to these websites and apps," Rossman said.

If you're on the other end of the spectrum and want to prioritize savings, it's okay to put financial boundaries in your relationship, as long as you communicate clearly.

"This is another instance where yours, mine, and ours can be helpful," Rossman said, emphasizing that by dividing your money into sections, you can eliminate conflict.

At the end of the day, remember you're on the same team.

"It's hard enough to manage money when you're working together," said Rossman. "It's almost impossible if you're pulling in different directions."

Clear communication can go a long way to protecting both your money and your relationship.