Love may be in the air, but so is something the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) calls financial infidelity.
Instances of people hiding financial information from a spouse or partner is growing and has a detrimental effect on relationships, according to a NEFE survey released Thursday.
Forty-two percent of the 2,057 adults surveyed say they have hidden financial information from a partner, up from 33 percent who admitted this two years ago. When financial deceptions occur, 75 percent of the time it has an effect on the relationshi, according to respondents.
“When you agree to combine finances in a relationship, you’re also agreeing to a certain degree of cooperation and transparency in your money management. ... Yet we’re seeing the implicit promise of collaboration destroyed by financial game-playing,” says Ted Beck, president and CEO of NEFE.
“Financial infidelity hurts regardless of its scale. Hiding or lying about small amounts of money can damage a relationship just as effectively as a high-dollar deceit," he says. "In fact, in all cases of this deception, people affected say it impacted their relationship in some way—almost always negatively. It causes arguments, erosion of trust, separation or even divorce.”
Thirty-nine percent hid such things as a purchase, a bill or cash from a partner and 16 percent lied about debt.
Confronting a partner about these issues can be uncomfortable, NEFE says, but admitting the truth and rebuilding trust and mutual financial goals is necessary.
“It will take sustained transparency in all communication, and it takes a commitment from both to stick to the goals that you’ve set together,” says Beck.
NEFE (www.nefe.org) is a not-for-profit foundation designed to promote good financial decision making.