What, Me? Financially Cheating My Husband?
Many of us are guilty of financial infidelity without being aware of it. Divulging less than the whole truth about the price of that stylish dress you splurged on, or neglecting to be up-front about late-payment penalties you’ve racked up may seem like small cover-ups. You may think that what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Many women want to make a beeline around potential conflict.
Well, think again. Even the smallest white lies can easily snowball into serious financial mistrust in a marriage. Worse still, the consequences of your stealthy behaviour can do heavy damage to your joint savings, investments and even your retirement plans – not to mention the relationship itself.
Sift through your various behavioural patterns. Think about whether you are guilty of financially cheating on your spouse. Since you can put the brakes on this type of infidelity by being conscious of your less-than-stellar behaviour, check through those patterns and think twice before you utter any of these lies again:
- “It was on sale.”
If you tend to spend lots of money impulsively, you might lie about the price of a purchase to make it sound like it was an offer you couldn’t refuse. If you plan on making an expensive purchase, it’s a good idea to discuss it beforehand with your husband. Maybe even ask him to help you search for a better deal. This way, you avoid lying about how much you’ll be spending, you’ll include your husband in your financial decision-making, and maybe you’ll even save some money.
- “I do not make that much money.”
While some people lie about how much they spend, others lie about how much they earn. Did you lie to your partner about your salary while you were dating to prevent him taking advantage of you? If so, stop hanging on to that lie. If you lie to your spouse about your income and savings, your financial teamwork will be for naught.
- “I already paid that bill.”
Both of you have a lot of responsibilities in a marriage. In the midst of heavy workloads at the office, obligations as a family woman or a family man, and your and your husband’s own personal and social activities, bill-paying can easily be neglected. To prevent such situations from cropping up, clarify both spouses’ financial responsibilities right from the start.
If you happen to miss a bill payment, be honest about it to your husband. It may be tempting to tell a little lie, or say nothing at all, and just pay the outstanding balance and resulting penalty fee. However, that little lie can lead to unwelcome surprises further down the line, like a black-marked credit history, for example. No matter how difficult it may be to admit your mistake, do come clean about it. To avoid the situation in future, ask your husband to remind you regularly to help you pay bills on time.
- “Yes, we can afford that.”
Some people lie about what they can and cannot afford in an attempt to avoid confrontation about money. This behaviour is, however, counterproductive. It will lead to disagreements, especially if the purchase is way outside the ballpark of your budget.
Establishing and following a household budget is a team effort. Before telling your husband that you can certainly afford to buy a second home, a new car or a larger television, sit down together and check your accounts.
- “What is mine is yours.”
Completely or partially merging your accounts with your husband is a typical financial move after getting married. However, make sure that both of you agree with this arrangement before you open joint savings, checking and investment accounts. Giving a misleading impression about being comfortable with shared accounts can cause resentment issues.
Whether or not you decide to merge your accounts, sit down with your partner and lay out all the details of your finances. Discuss your salaries, bonuses and other sources of income, as well as your debts and other expenses. Do not squirrel away money into secret accounts that your husband is not aware of. It is fine to have individual accounts to maintain your financial independence, but be open about this to each other.
- “I don’t have any debts.”
Do you have student debt that you are still paying off? Are you struggling under a load of credit card debt? Lying about your debt may be attributed to a feeling of shame about your financial woes. Pretending that the debt does not exist, and lying about it to your partner, can make it more difficult to slowly but surely pay off the outstanding balance.
Lay out the entire picture to your husband, and confront your debt head-on. If you are worried about how the two of you will handle it, propose that you open a new individual account earmarked to pay off your debt. Alternatively, your husband may want to help with your monthly payments in order to free yourselves sooner from that debt burden.
She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen).
Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).
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