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Celebrate Relationships, But Beware of Financial Infidelity

It’s one of the biggest threats to a relationship. The National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) has been following financial infidelity for a decade, and the problem continues to be prevalent among couples. The latest findings from a biennial survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of NEFE finds two in five (41 percent) of American adults who combine finances with a partner or spouse, admit to committing financial deceptions against their loved one. The survey also finds that three quarters (75 percent) of adults say financial deceit has affected their relationships in some way.

“Financial infidelity may seem benign, perhaps someone hides a purchase, receipt or even a little cash on the side. But this unfaithfulness can escalate to a more severe level of offense like concealing an account, lying about the amount of income you earn, or being secretive about the amount of debt that you owe,” says Ted Beck, president and CEO of NEFE. “This impacts a relationship regardless of scale. It causes arguments, erosion of trust, and regretfully in some cases even leads to separation or divorce.”

Among the reasons survey respondents say they committed financial deceptions in their current or past relationships, over one third (36 percent) say they believe some aspects of their finances should remain private, even from their spouse/partner; a quarter (26 percent) said they had discussed finances with their spouse/partner and they knew they would disapprove; almost one in five (18 percent) were embarrassed/fearful about their finances and didn't’t want their spouse/partner to find out; and 16 percent said that while they hadn't’t discussed finances with their spouse/partner they feared they would disapprove.

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