Many marriages founder on infidelity. Finding your partner has been cheating on you can often sound the death knell on a relationship.
But what if the affair isn’t with a buxom 20-year-old workmate, but your bank account?
Financial infidelity is a real problem and can cause just as much upset and ruin for a couple as the physical kind. With finances becoming ever more technological, it’s easy to open a personal account, gamble online or treat yourself on a secret credit card.
The problem is that when you access credit – say for a car loan or mortgage – the alarm bells ring as accounting for your cash is vital before you can borrow.
Fiscal cheaters fall into several categories according to US research revealing up to 50pc of married adults kept money secrets from their partner.
The YouGov poll found one in five Americans had hidden at least one bank account or credit card from their partner, and that rate was higher for younger people.
Separate research for the Financial Planning Standards Council in Canada found that 36pc of participants had lied about a financial matter to their partner or been a victim of financial infidelity themselves.
It can of course, be inconsequential and won’t bring down a relationship, such as a woman ‘hiding’ the price of an expensive pair of shoes from her husband, or a man pretending his lads’ weekend away didn’t cost as much as she thinks.
But it can escalate quickly when different financial personalities meet. If you are a spender, and your other half a saver, you may have problems from the outset.
If you have joint assets you also automatically have joint debts. So a bank won’t give you a free pass by claiming you knew nothing about it. You will be liable for your spouse’s financial misuse, says Bob Quinn of TheMoneyAdvisers.ie. “You have to be open with each other and clear about your own financial responsibility. It’s not good to leave all the money stuff to one person – financial decisions are couple decisions. When it comes to accessing credit like loans, banks go over accounts with a fine tooth comb. Whereas one missed payment or spend or transgression isn’t the end of the world, a bad financial habit can ruin a credit application.”
Warning signs your partner could be a financial cheater include:
- lying about purchases or claiming they were a gift or prize;
- having a secret bank account;
- encouraging separate bank accounts and credit cards even if married;
- switching exclusively to e-statements;
- defensive when you want to discuss money – dismisses any desire to pore over bank finances;
- blasé about bills that need paying, or final notices that keep arriving;
- phone calls that are quickly disconnected or he/she takes in private.
Tips to avoid financial cheating:
- Discuss family finances, good and bad, openly with each other. Nominate a time each month to go through household accounts, bills etc.
- Make sure you are both involved in decisions about savings and investments. Don’t leave everything up to one person and get yourself financially literate.
- Maintain joint accounts with access online where you can both see transactions clearly.
- If the secret spending is due to a gambling habit, make sure you get help immediately. Gambling addictions can ruin relationships. See gambleaware.ie.
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