Why is it that as most new relationships blossom, couples tend to feel a lot more comfortable seeing each other naked than revealing their assets (or lack thereof)? Could it be that our finances are more intimate than our actual … privates?
Hardly a new phenomenon, financial infidelity is the act of lying about, hiding or secretly hoarding money in a relationship.
It includes all manner of dishonest money-related behaviour, from the relatively innocuous fib playing down the price of those new Jimmy Choo heels to secret squirrel accounts and crippling debt accrual, that can have you still paying down your ex’s credit card bill for years after the romance has fizzled and you’ve gone your separate ways.
… From the relatively innocuous fib playing down the price of those new Jimmy Choo heels …
Research conducted last year by ING Direct found that more women than men – 21 per cent compared with 17 per cent – admitted to having a secret bank account. The research further blew apart the notion that it is women who are predominantly secret spenders, revealing that more than half of women with a secret account used it for personal savings, compared with only 33 per cent of men who used their covert account to save.
Men were more inclined to use their secret funds for lifestyle purchases, and were also more often guilty of using their secret bank account to buy items their partner might not approve of.
So how can you tell if your partner is being dishonest about their money?
Here are three key warning signs of financial infidelity;
- Overly controlling behaviour
Quite often the more serious cases of financial infidelity arise when one spouse wants to control the finances with little or no input from the other. If your partner gets defensive or patronising when you try to have a say in financial decisions, warning bells should be ringing.
- Unexplained withdrawals
If you regularly look through your joint account and find cash withdrawals or purchases you don’t recognize, there could be more to the picture. Query them with your partner, or directly with the bank.
- General avoidance of money topics
The money conversation can be a real libido killer but if your one-and-only gets cagy when you raise the topic or constantly deflects your questions, chances are there’s something to hide.
Whatever the offence, financial infidelity is definitely cheating.
Whatever the offence, financial infidelity is definitely cheating. It may not involve steamy text messages and sneaking off for clandestine rendezvous in cheap hotels but it can be just as damaging to your relationship. In fact, money issues are responsible for nearly 50 per cent of divorces in Australia so recognising the warning signs of financial infidelity and getting the ‘money talk’ right from the outset can make all the difference to your happily ever after.
Kirsty Lamont is a director of Mozo.com.au which helps Australians compare savings accounts, credit cards, insurance and other financial products. Kirsty was one of the launch team for Virgin Money when it started in Australia in 2003, and also held a senior role at BankWest before joining Mozo in 2007. A consumer finance expert, she has access to Mozo’s up-to-the-minute data about different financial products on offer. www.mozo.com.au