What is Financial Infidelity? Avoid Making Money Relationship Mistakes

Financial Advice


3 min. read

By: FCU Team

Trust and communication are key to a successful relationship, especially when it comes to finances. When a partner in a relationship isn’t completely honest about money, they’re likely committing financial infidelity.

Financial Infidelity Defined

You commit financial infidelity when you hide aspects of your finances from your partner. These include misrepresenting big purchases, debt and your income. Bellow are common forms of financial infidelity and ways to avoid them.

Hiding Income

Not being honest about how much you make, or misrepresenting the actual amount, qualifies as financial infidelity. If you're already married, things like income should be common knowledge in your relationship. If you're about to say "I do," make sure you discuss finances sooner rather than later.

Hiding Debt

Keeping debt hidden, whether pre-existing debt or mounting debt, is a classic form of financial infidelity. Pre-existing debt is debt that you have before you met or became serious with your partner. Common forms of pre-existing debt include credit card and student loan debt. You can also hide mounting debt during your relationship. An example is if your significant other decided to apply for a new credit card and spend thousands of dollars while keeping it secret from you.

The Impact of Financial Infidelity

Imagine you come home from work to your very small two-bedroom apartment, tired after a long day. You have aspirations of growing your family with your partner and making the big step towards home ownership. You spent the last few days doing research on homes in the area, getting your finances in order and discussing with your partner. That’s when the truth come out: they have mounting debt and a bad credit score.

So why is it important to disclose this information to your significant other? Because it affects your ability to make financial decisions as a couple and family, like buying a new car or applying for a mortgage. When you aren’t honest with your significant other, it’s as if you’re asking them to complete a puzzle while you deliberately hide some pieces away.

Taking Steps to Avoid Financial Infidelity

If you’re in a committed relationship, there will come a time where you should both share your income. Knowing about income, debts and credit scores will help you plan life goals together. As far as good habits, these are a few:

Talk, Talk, Talk!

As we said above, communication is key! Telling your partner what’s on your mind opens up a dialogue that makes navigating through tough times easier. After all, people can’t help if they don’t know there’s a problem, right?

Look at Finances Together

Try to look at things like budgets, credit reports and statements as a unit. This way, you’ll be on the same page when it comes to finances. The more you communicate, the easier it will be. You should also remember to be honest whenever bad financial times loom. If you’ve lost your job or have an unexpected debt, don’t hesitate to tell your partner!

Form Habits

Don’t talk about budgets infrequently; commit to doing so, even if it’s only once a month. Pencil it into a calendar and look forward to it because it’s taking charge of your life and relationship!

Tips for New Couples

If you’re a new relationship, here are some questions to use when talking about finances:

  • What is your income?
  • What do your current debts look like?
  • Do you have a debt repayment strategy?
  • Do you have any savings?
  • What are your retirement plans/goals?

With these questions and knowledge on what financial infidelity is, you and your partner should be able to develop helpful money habits for your relationship. This will make planning and achieving your life goals, like starting a family and homeownership, a lot smoother.

family in front of new home