Dear Ms. Plaid:

I would never cheat physically on my partner, but sometimes I spend money that I know we don’t have on stuff we don’t need. Is financial infidelity the same as cheating?

– Money Cheater

Dear Money Cheater,

All partnerships are based in trust and lying either about physical relationships or money issues is cheating on your partner. You might not feel like you are lying, but you know you are not telling the full truth if you are spending in a situation in which you know your partner would not agree. We have all heard the statistic about what causes divorce, money and sex. Since this is not one of those websites we will focus on the money aspect.

Here are a few definitions defining this situation:

  • Investopedia: Financial Infidelity occurs when couples with combined finances lie to each other about money.
  • Divorce360 experts call this “financial infidelity” or lying about how money is being spent.
  • The Simple Dollar shares 10 things to watch out for, demonstrates how it can be difficult to track and what you can do if you suspect financial infidelity.

One of the things that causes partners to “cheat” financially is a lack of shared financial goals. What do you want to accomplish with your money? Is one of you a saver while the other one is a spender? Did you have different childhoods financially which impacts how you spend money today? Being upfront about goals and acknowledging differences is key to financial harmony.

Some couples set a certain dollar amount where each spouse has free rein spending so long as is under the said amount. Think mad money or pocket change amounts. You don’t want to have a meeting to decide if you have the money for a coffee on the way to work.

How do you and your spouse share money goals?

Ms. Plaid