The High Price of Cheating (Financially) on Your Spouse

February 12, 2015

by Michelle Perry Higgins


It’s almost Valentine’s Day. What could possibly ruin a perfect holiday, you ask? If you are one of the 7.2 million Americans with a hidden bank or credit-card account and your spouse finds out, this could definitely kick cupid to the curb.

Money arguments are the root of many separations and/or divorces. I am not surprised by the staggering number of divorces that are linked to money issues because we all have strong opinions and emotions surrounding this issue.  Unfortunately, a recent report from CreditCards.com says that one in five Americans have spent $500 or more on a purchase without their partner’s knowledge.  Financial infidelity is very serious and can have lasting effects on any marriage.  Even if the offending spouse is not discovered, the act of concealing something from the other spouse is bound to have a corrosive effect on the marriage bond.  And if the concealment is discovered, the other spouse will feel betrayed and it may take years to rebuild lost trust. If you fall into the group of 7.2 million spouses with a hidden bank or credit-card account, think long and hard about whether the consequences are worth the risk. How will this play out if your partner finds out?  Is it worth the potential damage to your relationship?  Are you hurting your joint finances by having this account? How would you feel if you found out your partner was doing the same thing without your knowledge?

So how do we avoid this marriage minefield? One thing you can do is to sit down with your partner and create a new line item in your budget for each one of you.  Within the limits of your budget you need to decide on an amount that is mutually agreeable, whether it be $50, $500, or more. You can call this new addition to the budget whatever you want, say “fun money.” There should be no restrictions on the use of these funds and you should not have to report back to one another on how the money was spent.  These funds can be paid out in cash or you can each open an account.  Allowing each other this kind of financial freedom should help reduce the possibility of financial infidelity.