One of the biggest challenges couples face is the decision to merge their finances. That choice can have major consequences if both partners are not equally committed to financial transparency.
A new report from the National Endowment for Financial Education showed that among people who said they had ever combined finances with a romantic partner, more than 40% committed some form of financial infidelity. The study was based on a survey of more than 2,000 American adults.
Of those involved in some form of money laundering, an overwhelming majority (85%) reported that the act affected this relationship, whether it was current or past, in some way. And 16% of the population said the situation led to the end of the relationship or a decision to separate the economy.
Financial infidelity involves a wide range of behaviors, including hiding purchases, not revealing a financial account, and lying about income or debt owed.
“No matter how serious the act, financial infidelity can cause a huge strain on couples – it leads to quarrels, breaches of trust and in some cases separation or even divorce,” said Billy Hensley, president and CEO of NEFE. the report.
Hiding a purchase, bank account, bank statement, bill or cash was the most commonly reported form of financial infidelity, investigators said, followed by lying about finances, debt or income. The survey showed that 47% of men reported financial fraud, against 39% of women.
Employed individuals and parents with children under the age of 18 were much more likely to commit this type of infidelity. In particular, rates of financial infidelity did not vary based on income level or homeowner status.
As for the reasons people mentioned as justification for their decision to hide some aspects of their finances from their partner or spouse, the most common explanation was that they felt that some aspects of their finances should remain private. That reasoning was quoted by 38% of people who had committed financial infidelity.
Other factors that seem to have forced people to be misleading about their finances were fear of disapproval and embarrassment. Unmarried partners were more likely to quote embarrassment than those who had already tied the knot.
To avoid financial infidelity – or recover from a case of it – couples can take steps to reconsider their common approach to money.
Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, suggests considering a “yours, mine and ours” attitude to couples’ finances.
“If you each want to spend your own money without asking questions, that’s fine, but you have to agree on the parameters in advance,” Rossman wrote in a separate report on financial infidelity released in March. “This ensures that you are in line and working towards your broader goals.”
Diloney Carter, a senior adviser at financial planning and insurance marketing firm Equis Financial, suggested seeing these accounts as “fun funds” for each partner.
“The deal is that the money in this account can be spent on anything without having to consult your significant other,” Carter wrote in a blog post. “For example, you can immediately take some of your fun funds and buy the low-budget-made-TV movie that you love but your partner hates. And they can not be sad that you spent the money.”
Other researchers who have studied financial infidelity have also said that open and honest communication is essential to prevent such indiscretions.