8/6/2014 3:30 PM ET|
Financial infidelity: Are you a victim?
Are you guilty of excessive spending or other money moves without your mate's knowledge?
Financial infidelity might sound sexy. But in fact, it's a serious breach of trust in a relationship and can result in a big argument, or worse.
Financial infidelity occurs when one spouse or relationship partner hides assets or debts, or commits other acts in secret that are detrimental to the couple's joint finances, says Lili Vasileff, founder of Divorce & Money Matters LLC, a divorce financial planning firm in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Examples include excessive spending, buying or mortgaging personal property, lending to or borrowing from family, friends or a retirement account, making risky investments or starting an ill-conceived small business -- all without the other person's knowledge and consent.
Financial infidelity gets its name because "it's just as serious as a sexual betrayal," says Mary Gresham, a psychologist in Atlanta.
"You're taking resources that belong in the couple or partnership and funneling them off. It leads to a lot of divorces," Gresham says.
Keeping your spouse out of the loop
Financial infidelity isn't uncommon. One in 3 people who said they'd comingled their finances also said they'd either committed or experienced an act of financial deceit, according to a January 2014 survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education, or NEFE, a Denver-based nonprofit.
If you suspect your significant other has been financially unfaithful, here are some signs to look for.
Perhaps the clearest sign of possible financial infidelity is missing or misdirected documents.
If your partner has bank statements, credit card bills or other important financial information sent to his or her office instead of your home or if your partner's executive assistant or secretary handles your joint financial matters, deception could be at work.
"If the office is taking care of personal accounting, that usually is a huge flag," Vasileff says.
Other flags include:
- You're cut off from a joint credit card.
- You see no activity by your partner on a card you've normally both used.
- You receive statements in the mail from a financial company you've never heard of.
- Your partner intercepts bills and statements so you don't see them.
- Cash goes missing or is unaccounted for.
Financial sob stories
Another warning sign can be sudden inflated and emotional claims of unusual or severe financial hardship or debt.
"Very often, a precursor to divorce is one of the spouses will tell all of the economic stresses and woes so you will get into the mindset of, 'We have no money, business is terrible.' Then, your expectations are low. That's all premeditated," Vasileff says.
On the flip side, sudden out-of-character generosity also could signal mischief.
"The spouse wines and dines the person, takes them on an extravagant vacation or tells them to go on an extravagant vacation by themselves, tells them everything is wonderful, when it's just the opposite," Vasileff says.
Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a nonprofit credit counseling organization in Washington, D.C., says it's important to keep your eyes open and not be willfully blind.
"Do they never look around the house? Never notice their lifestyle?" she says. "A person may choose to look the other way because he or she is enjoying the benefits of the spending, but I refuse to believe (that person is) totally blind to it."
Gambling might seem harmless and day-trading stocks might seem smart, but done to excess, these activities can be addictive and trigger financial treachery to support the habit. If your partner has a financial addiction, watch out for financial infidelity, as well.
"When people have financial addictions like gambling, spending, trading stocks or lending money to family and friends to feel like a good person, those are often part of the infidelity where there's no consensus, no communication and no permission in advance. They are acting unilaterally and don't disclose it," Vasileff says.
Disclosure after the fact doesn't count and can be manipulative, Vasileff says.
Couples in healthy relationships have open, honest discussions about income and debt.
If you want to talk about a money-related subject and your partner isn't responsive, that could be a warning sign, says NEFE spokesman Paul Golden.
"If you bring up a conversation point about money with your significant other and he or she isn't engaged or the person is withdrawn or defensive, those (behaviors) are big red flags," he says.
Most people have some financial baggage and many are uncomfortable talking openly about their finances.
Discomfort isn't necessarily a sign of financial infidelity, but it should prompt further discussion.
"If a person is reluctant, you need to know why," Cunningham says.
Gresham, the Atlanta psychologist, also points to unexplained dispiritedness as a possible sign of financial distress or misdeeds. Too often, these signs are understood only too late.
"You see it after the fact, and now you know why your partner was anxious or depressed or seemed withdrawn or secretive." she says.
The next steps to take
If you suspect your spouse or partner hasn't been honest with you about his or her income, assets or debts, or if you simply want to improve your financial communication, try to set up a time to have that discussion, Cunningham says.
"You need to be willing to be financially naked with the other person," Cunningham says. "Set a date -- 'Saturday morning I will meet you at the proverbial kitchen table and let's have a financial checkup.'"
Be ready to share your credit report, credit score, tax returns, and statements for bank, investment and retirement accounts. Ask your partner to bring all that information, too.
Getting financially naked "doesn't have to result in a terrible meltdown of the family," Cunningham says.
If you or your partner has been less than truthful, a call to a financial or marital counseling service might be a smart last step.
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VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
While there can be many unforgiveable reasons for the breakdown of this trust. it can also be a sign that your spouse is in some bad dark place and needs help.
The easiest way to safeguard against this is to share the financial responsibilities. However, it doesn't always work that way. Couples generally split up the chores, they don't do them together.
Most people manage their finances online and sharing the passwords means you can always look at the activity, if you so chose. It isn't a sign of distrust but rather acknowledging that you both are responsible for the finances. Another trick is have all credit cards send email or text alerts for purchases over a stated dollar amount. Many cards have this feature.
A constant battle for the ultimate state of control
After you've heard lie upon lie
There can hardly be a question of why
Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
But that can't happen to us
Because it's always been a matter of trust"
*** Financial Infidelity - Sounds Like What Obama Is Doing To The Taxpayers ***
The 53% of people who actually pay Federal Income Taxes that is. When Obozo took office the National Debt stood at 10.8 trillion . It's currently 17 trillion and climbing. It's projected to hit 20 trillion by the time the Obamunist leaves office. Comrade Obama has saddled the American Taxpayer (53% of us who actually pay federal income taxes) with excessive spending, excessive debt and making risky investments in failed green energy companies...
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