Three in 10 Americans Admit to Financial Deception with Partners

Nearly a Third with Combined Finances have been Financially Unfaithful

Date: January 14, 2011

Contact: Paul Golden 303-224-3514, [email protected]

DENVER—The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), in cooperation with, commissioned an online poll conducted by Harris Interactive in December 2010, finding that 31 percent of people who combined finances with their significant other have been deceptive with their spouse or partner about money.

The survey examines overall trust issues within couples who are combining or have combined their finances in a current or past relationship, and describes the types of financial deceptions that are often committed—from hiding money, purchases and bank accounts to lying about the amount of debt owed or money earned. The survey also looks at what the impacts are or were on the relationship.

Money provides a potential conflict point in a relationship. But it also can be something that draws a couple closer," says Ted Beck, president and CEO of NEFE. "Couples should talk openly about money, and do so early in the relationship. Each person should understand their partner’s values about money. In doing so, they have a better chance to build a more stable relationship, both emotionally and financially."

According to the survey, of those who committed a financial deception:

  • Nearly three in five of these adults (58 percent) say they hid cash from their partner or spouse.

  • More than half of these adults (54 percent) hid a minor purchase from their partner or spouse.

  • An additional 30 percent hid a statement or a bill from their partner or spouse.

  • Thirty four percent of these adults say they lied about finances, debt, money earned.

The survey also finds that:

  • Another one in three adults (32 percent) who have ever combined finances say a partner/spouse has committed at least one of the listed financial deceptions against them.

  • More than two out of three adults (68 percent) say a current and/or past relationship was affected by the financial deceptions that were committed.

  • More than two out of five of these adults (42 percent) say it caused less trust in the relationship.

  • Nearly one in five adults (19 percent) say it led to the separation of combined finances.

  • Sixteen percent of these adults say it ultimately resulted in divorce.

  • Women are more likely than men to say their partner or spouse lied to them about finances, debt, money earned (65 percent vs. 47 percent respectively).

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of NEFE from December 17-21, 2010, among 2,019 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology (including weighting variables) click here.

For questions regarding the survey, contact Paul Golden at 303-224-3514 or [email protected].

What Do You Value

Understanding your financial values and how they differ from those of your partner is one key to success in managing money together as a couple. NEFE’s new LifeValues Quiz helps people identify their own values in four comprehensive categories: inner, social, physical and financial.

For more tips on working together as a couple to handle finances and starting that awkward conversation about money that you’ve been putting off, visit.



  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]