Financial Infidelity: Fifty Shades of Green
Are you “financially” faithful to your spouse?
On a recent PlanStrongerTV™ show, I invited Cary Carbonaro, CFP®, to talk with me about Financial Infidelity. What is it? In a nutshell, Financial Infidelity is lying about, or hiding, financial information from your spouse. Cary said that, statistically, 3 out of 5 people are guilty of this. Men are more likely to be financially unfaithful than women, but not by a very large margin.
So, what is an example of Financial Infidelity? It can run the gamut from a “little white lie” – hiding a large purchase, for example – to having a secret savings account or credit card. On the extreme end, it could be funding the lifestyle of another “partner” by paying all his/her bills. The latter behavior can certainly destroy a marriage or relationship. Often, lesser offenses can be worked out with the help of an understanding mate.
What if you are the person who is “in the dark” when it comes to your spouse’s finances? How do you initiate the conversation? Each situation is different. Sometimes it is best to sit down with an independent, impartial third party, like a counselor or a CFP® practitioner. They are going to ask the kind of questions that may help you to expose, and get to the root cause of, any secrecy. I’ve seen it happen in my practice when couples have come in for a second opinion on their investments. One gentleman, for example, had to admit to previously undisclosed, risky stock purchases. The good news is that, in many cases, exposing and confronting these issues can help both partners deal with the underlying problem. “Money” is certainly the litmus test for many a relationship, so getting all the skeletons out of the closet will be a step towards a more resilient and stronger relationship.
In a recent Fidelity study, 43% of the spouses surveyed could not correctly state the annual salary of their mate! Wow! Come on everyone; this is important! You and your spouse must be on the same page when it comes to finances. Each person needs to know what money is coming in and what is going out. You should also share your passwords and know how to log in to all accounts. Financial knowledge is invaluable, especially if your partner becomes incapacitated or dies unexpectedly. The time to start the discussion is now. Get to it!