Money Fibs Put Millions of American Relationships at Risk

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A survey shows no group is immune from the sting of financial deceit. Here's how you can avoid falling victim to this fate.

An estimated 12 million Americans — 5 percent of the adult U.S. population — admit to financial infidelity, defined as concealing the existence of a credit card or bank account from a life partner, according to newly released findings from CreditCards.com.

While telling the occasional financial white lie might seem harmless, it can actually put your marriage at risk. A 2013 Kansas State University study found that arguments about money are the leading predictor of whether wedded bliss eventually will end in painful divorce.

It seems no group is immune from the sting of financial deceit. If fact, in an age of fractious political division, people of various ideological stripes apparently find common ground on the subject of financial infidelity.

The CreditCards.com survey found that among Democrats, Republicans and independents polled, 5 percent of each group admitted to having secret bank accounts or credit cards.

How to prevent financial infidelity

Open communication is best way to avoid the sad fate that befalls financial cheaters. And it all starts before you get married. As we have explained before, understanding your partner’s money past is a key to remaining united in the future:

Perhaps you were raised by parents who were well-off and you routinely live every day as if you had the income to support the lifestyle of your youth. If you fit the bill, marrying a saver could result in conflict. How will you work this out?

For more tips on getting your relationship on solid financial footing, check out “11 Essential Money Matters to Discuss Before Marriage.”

Perhaps it’s too late for you to prevent financial infidelity. If so, you need a recovery plan if you hope to advance to the “until death do us part” of your commitment.

Fortunately, dishonesty about money does not have sound the death knell for your union. As we have written:

Even financially stressed marriages can be salvaged, although it’s not always easy. Your family’s unique circumstances will determine how best to approach — and solve — money problems,

Step No. 1 is to openly and honestly discuss everything about money. We call it “airing your dirty laundry.” For more on this step and four others, check out “5 Steps to Save Your Financially Stressed Marriage.”

Finally, for the final word on this subject, check out “7 Money Mistakes That Can Mess Up Your Marriage.”

Armed with all of this knowledge, you can use a little communication to put financial infidelity behind you forever and start anew just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Do you have other tips for avoiding — or recovering from — financial infidelity? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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