Have Many Americans Committed “Financial Infidelity”?

Can you cheat without being a cheater? When it comes to Americans and finances, at least some people think you can.

Research indicates that 53% of Americans have kept money secrets from their partner, but only 27% would call it financial infidelity.
Research indicates that 53% of Americans have kept money secrets from their partner, but only 27% would call it financial infidelity.

In a poll conducted by researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi, 53 percent of respondents said they had lied about money matters to their significant other, such as not accurately saying how much they had spent on something or hiding receipts. Interestingly, only 27 percent of those surveyed said what they were doing amounted to financial infidelity.

Adam Holt, the founder and CEO of the online financial adviser Asset-Map, disagrees. "Financial infidelity is hiding financial decisions intentionally (or unintentionally), from an invested partner," he said. Of those polled, more than 20 percent spent money on their children without telling their partner, lied about a price, or kept purchases or receipts hidden. Other ways of "cheating" include secretly getting another credit card, not telling when you withdraw money from the bank, covering up debt, or not telling your partner about a raise or bonus.

Financial adviser Kristin O’Keeffe Merrick of O’Keeffe Financial Partners said relationships require financial honesty. "I have seen several cases of financial irresponsibility and infidelity that have ruined relationships," she said. "If you and your partner are having a hard time communicating about it, I suggest engaging a third party."

Money matters:

  • Statistically, marriages in which the wife earns more than the husband are more likely to end in divorce.

  • Money arguments, especially early on in a marriage, are the single greatest divorce predictor.

  • People are less sad when they are doing well financially, but they are not necessarily happier.

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    • Research indicates that 53% of Americans have kept money secrets from their partner, but only 27% would call it financial infidelity.
      Research indicates that 53% of Americans have kept money secrets from their partner, but only 27% would call it financial infidelity.