There is a 40% chance that your spouse is cheating on you, financially. A study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the National Endowment for Financial Education reported, “two in five Americans who have combined their finances in a current/past relationship admit to committing financial infidelity against their partner.” Financial infidelity means that couples with combined finances lie to each other about money.
One of our clients at Francis Financial recently shared a story of how financial infidelity occurred in her marriage. She noticed that her husband had moved a large sum of cash to his parents’ bank account, and when she asked her husband about the withdrawal, he claimed he and his parents were working on an investment together. Although she was not very involved in the household finances, she realized they had never received any statements associated with this new investment, and recognized this as a major red flag. She suspected her marriage was heading south, and she decided to speak to a financial advisor before any more financial red flags surfaced.
How do you know if your spouse is cheating on you, financially? Financial infidelity is often an indication that your spouse is being unfaithful to you, or may be preparing for divorce. Red flags can be seen as suspicious changes in behavior or purposeful lack of communication.
Some other examples of red flags:
- Your spouse is not willing to share financial information with you
- You can no longer access a shared bank account
- There are noticeably large cash withdrawals from your accounts, and when you question this, you see signs of nervousness/defensiveness in your spouse
- You received mail from a bank you weren’t aware you had an account with
- There are unusual credit card charges on your statements – some pointing to possible romantic infidelity (jewelry, flowers, hotels, etc.)
- Your spouse encourages you to sign financial documents that you haven’t had a chance to thoroughly review
- Your tax return is missing or not in its usual location
- Your spouse won’t commit to any long-term financial decisions (house, car, investments)
- Your spouse, who is not the one who has traditionally handled the day-to-day finances or maintained the family budget, suddenly shows an interest in how much things cost
Steps to take if you begin to notice financial red flags
The most important thing to do if you notice any of these signs is to get a handle on your finances before they get too hard to access.
- Financial documents you will need to gather and make copies of:
- Bank and credit card statements
- Retirement/investment account numbers
- Loan account numbers
- Tax returns from the last few years
- Insurance policies
- Recent pay stubs, W2s, or 1099s
- Deeds/mortgages/property titles
- Wills and/or trusts
- Save money. Prepare an emergency fund of 3-6 months of living expenses.
- Begin researching and consulting divorce professionals. You will likely need a matrimonial attorney, and you should consider engaging a financial adviser, your own accountant, and a divorce coach or therapist to help you make as smooth a transition as possible. Divorce professionals will help you understand different divorce processes and help you figure out what is best for your specific situation.