How to avoid financial infidelity

Advisor recommends practical and emotional solutions to avoid lying about finances to your romantic partner

How to avoid financial infidelity

Financial infidelity is rife but there are ways to stop money “half-truths” hurting a relationship, according to one advisor.

A recent poll by Credit Canada and the Financial Planning Standards Council found that 36% of those surveyed lied about their financial situation to their romantic partner, while 34% admitted keeping secrets from their other half.

Shannon Lee Simmons, of Toronto-based New School of Finance, a fee-only financial-planning service, has encountered such problems among clients but believes the term “financial infidelity” wrongly implies that all people are manipulative.

She said: “What I’ve found is that people tend to tell half stories or not tell the whole story. For example, maybe saying something like, ‘I’ve got some debt’, when maybe they are sinking. Or maybe saying, ‘I make good money’, when really they are very wealthy. It’s often not a lie, but maybe a half-truth.”

The survey also found that participants aged 18 to 34 were more likely to be victims of financial infidelity (47%) than those 65 and older (18%).

The worst examples given of financial deception included secretly running up a credit card, lying about income and making a major purchase without telling their partner.

Lee Simmons said it is vital that couples create an open space where they feel comfortable talking about their financial situation. She said that emotionally and practically both people have to be singing from the same hymn sheet.

“Ensure that joint fixed expenses are split equitably, not equally, from a joint account,” she said. “And ensure you've mapped out your common shared goals and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and honest. It’s the only way to get on the same page and move yourself forward financially.”

Shannon Lee dismissed the idea that, in 2018, there is pressure on any one spouse to be the main breadwinner and believes that life is so expensive these days that couples just want to be earning the most they can.

Making people realise that tackling your finances with two incomes is more efficient than keeping things to yourself is key, she said, adding that a failure to be open could eventually damage the relationship.

She said: “It can breed resentment and guilt. Eventually, truths have a way of coming out and your partner is going to feel left in the dark. It will hurt.

“It’s best to come out with everything now. From the financial side of things, if you’re not aligned on your household goals, you’re just not using household money efficiently. Everyone is better off when both people are rowing the boat.”

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