Finance News

43% of adults say they’ve cheated on their associate financially

Have you always been financially loyal in your relationships?

If the answer is no, you are not alone.

According to a survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education, 43% of adults with combined finance in a relationship said they had committed an act of financial deception.

Financial deception ranges from lying to your partner or spouse, about money, to hiding things like cash, bills, or a purchase, according to the report. The survey of more than 2,000 adults was conducted online by The Harris Poll in June.

Money is often a source of stress in relationships and is even a major cause of divorce. That may be because it's a difficult subject.

"As a society, we talk about money with the assumption that everyone starts understanding in the same place, and that's very wrong," said Billy Hensley, president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education, making discussions about debt, saving and spending more uncomfortable.

"The basis for this is that we don't provide enough financial education in schools or other places so that people have the confidence they need to approach these issues early on," he said.

Why people commit financial infidelity

The survey found that most deceptions happen for a few key reasons. 38% felt that some aspects of money should be kept private, 34% had talked about finances but thought their partner would disapprove of it, and another 33% were too scared or ashamed of their finances to feel about it speak.

Of the couples who experienced financial deception, 42% said they had an argument. Others said the event undermined trust and privacy, resulted in a financial separation, or sparked the termination of the relationship.

Of course, some of the respondents were able to use financial infidelity to strengthen their relationship – 19% said they grew closer afterwards, and 16% said the deception helped them communicate more proactively later on.

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Check with your partner or spouse about money

If you've committed financial infidelity, it's probably best to get to your spouse or partner ASAP, Hensley said. So you can work on the topic together.

"Maybe it's time to recalibrate your financial relationship and say, 'You know what, that didn't work out so well for us, is there a better way for us?' "said Hensley.

It can also be a good idea to work with a financial therapist or coach to have a neutral third party who can help you talk about money, Hensley said.

To avoid financial problems in a relationship, couples should discuss how they might – or might not – want to combine their finances before doing so or deciding to live together.

It is important for people to realize that there is no one option for couples to be with money. Some experts recommend dedicated partners to keep some aspects of their finances separate.

For example, Suze Orman, a personal finance expert and host of the Women and Money podcast, has never shared a bank account with her partner for more than 20 years.

"You have to have your own money, the last thing you want to do is ask for permission," Orman said. "You may have a joint expense account, but then you will each need your own individual account."

Couples should also discuss their financial goals and make sure they're on the same page – and check back often to see their progress toward those goals.

“When you have common goals and have talked about how to settle your bills, and so on, Hensley.

Have you ever experienced or committed financial infidelity in a relationship? If you want and want to share your story, send an email to Carmen Reinicke at carmen.reinicke@nbcuni.com.

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