The Financial Planning Association of Australia The Financial Planning Association of Australia

Are you committing (financial) infidelity?

Do you have a secret bank account, stash of cash or credit card that you keep from your partner? How about that pricey pair of shoes you omitted to tell your husband about? Or, the money you covertly set aside after you scored a bonus at work?

If your answer is a sheepish ‘yes’ to any of the above, then you are guilty of financial infidelity. This don’t-ask-don’t-tell principle is a no-no when it comes to handling family finances.

Research conducted by Relationships Australia revealed 37 per cent of women and 30 per cent of men cited financial stress as the cause of marital misery (click here for the full report). Dishonest spending contributes to this stress and is a common issue facing couples today.

So, how can you avoid financial infidelity and maintain a healthy financial relationship?

Know your numbers and set a budget

This starts with actually knowing what you’re spending as a couple or family. Very few people can confidently state how much they outlay on groceries, bills or discretionary items. Find a system that works for you to measure your expenses; a spreadsheet, smartphone app or even an old-fashioned notepad. The next part is setting a spending limit for those items you have most control over such as eating out, entertainment and the weekly grocery shop.

Talk about money with your partner

In my many discussions with couples over the years, I often find that the finances are left to one person. Whilst this can make for more streamlined money management, it doesn’t create the need to talk about money at home. I recommend setting aside half an hour each fortnight or so, to discuss family spending and revisit how you’re tracking against your budget. This makes everyone accountable, keeping the budget front of mind and reducing the chance of one person mismanaging your family’s livelihood.

Don’t hide purchases from each other

If you feel the need to hide a purchase from your significant other, then you probably shouldn’t be buying it in the first place. End of story.

Don’t hide windfalls such as bonuses, tax refunds or other payments

As per point 3, it all comes down to an issue of trust. What else are you hiding from your partner?

Avoid maintaining separate bank accounts

Joint bank accounts should be used to manage family finances and each partner should be able to easily view transactions and statements. Couples that maintain separate finances make it difficult to be open about spending habits and will find it hard to follow the points above. Instead of building trust within the relationship, you’re preparing for the day you go your separate ways!

If you would like to find out if you are committing financial infidelity, speak to your financial planner, or visit our Find a Planner tool to find one near you. To read more of our blog posts click here.