Are you cheating on your spouse financially?

Lying about money has the potential to destroy both your marriage and finances
It’s a deception that has lasted years.Financial infidelity can involve deceit at every level: lying to your partner about money , hiding financial details or transactions, and often an overt attempt to secure one’s finances at the expense of the spouse’s.This fiscal unfaithfulness goes against the very grain of marriage, which involves planning one’s life with a partner, formulating common goals and finding ways to achieve them despite financial constraints.

According to a 2013 survey by a British price comparison site, one in 10 people admitted that hidden credit card purchases played a part in their split.In India, the situation may not be so bad if one were to believe the findings of an online survey conducted by ET Wealth and Economictimes.com, among 2,934 respondents. “Money issues are not the primary cause of break-ups, but can be contributing factors,“ says psychiatrist Sanjay Chugh. Yet, some worrying trends emerged from the survey .Nearly 39% people believe it’s okay to lie about money in a marriage, though 16% think it’s ok only if it involves bigger sums. Besides, nearly 56% spend money without telling their spouses, and 27% hesitate to have a discussion about money with their partners.

It boils down to the level of trust and love in a relationship. If trust is high, chances of financial infidelity drop drastically . Hence, it’s critical to focus on the dynamics of a relationship: communicate better, split financial responsibilities, set up joint goals, be open about your dealings and ignore smaller lies. But make sure the lies don’t escalate into bigger ones.

Here are some of ways in which people commit financial infidelity and how you can avoid falling into the trap.

Hiding income

The survey reveals that nearly 42% of men lie about income. They do it for a variety of reasons. The take-home salary is scaled down to avoid their wives’ demands for expensive personal purchases. Others increase it to preserve their sense of self-worth.

“It doesn’t even have to be outright lying. You can decieve by leaving things unsaid or by omission,“ says financial planner Jayant Pai. Some hide passwords for accounts or shut off the computer when the spouse is close by . Be on alert if this happens. You have every right to know how much your spouse earns, and ensure that your personal needs are taken care of.

Women also lie about income, sometimes to save for a rainy day. They also do it to fund personal purchases or support their parents or siblings. Women who earn more than men do it to avoid hurting the husband’s pride.

What you can do about it: Talk to your spouse and impress upon him the need for financial security for you and your children. Insist on seeing the payslip or bank statement. This will also help you track aberrations in spending patterns. You can also have a joint account, where the salary flows in.

Spending deception

Over 56% of the survey respondents admitted that they don’t tell their spouses about their spends. If you are buying regular household items or carrying out small personal purchases, you don’t need to tell your spouse. However, the implication of spending on big-ticket items should be discussed.

Homemakers lie about spending if they are not given enough by the husband. When she falls short of money for her personal purchases, she tries to squeeze it out of the household share.

Other spouses lie to avoid being judged because they have either made an ill-planned and expensive purchase, or have spent too much, or have bought an item that turns out flawed. People also lie about how much they spend on their families, with nearly 29% survey respondents claiming to lie about it.

Men typically lie about spending to avoid nagging at home because they know the spouse will disapprove of it.

These lies are not damaging and should be bypassed, but if it’s an extramarital affair that has spawned indiscriminate spending, it’s cause of concern. In such a case, the breakdown of trust and fissure may be too deep by the time you realise it, but if you are alert, you can spot the changes in spending and behavioural patterns. “One needs to be careful if the couple is on the verge of a split because it will involve bigger assets and transferring of larger amounts to other accounts, resulting in bigger lies,“ says Aparna Bhat, a Delhi-based lawyer.

What you can do about it: Having a budget, either offline, in an Excel sheet or through an app, helps nip such issues in the bud. You can use a joint account for bigger and household expenses, and individual ones for the amount left over after accounting for bills and investments for goals.

Investing indiscretion

The reason most investments are hidden is that typically one spouse takes over the job of handling it. If the apportioning of financial responsibilities is done by mutual consent and in line with financial goals, it doesn’t create discord. But if the intent is to gain control over money, it usually leads to acrimony and deception.

The biggest danger is that in case of the sudden demise of a spouse or a split, the other partner will be left in the lurch, with no income or financial support, and no way to identify or quantify investments made. Lies also come tumbling out when investments don’t yield desired results or result in extensive losses.

What you can do about it: To figure out investing lies, be alert to sudden changes in spending patterns or budget expenses, as well as behaviour.

Incurring debts

The easiest debt trap to fall into is the one related to credit cards. If your spouse has rolled over dues once too often or is relying on cards to tide over a financial crisis, he or she is bound to land in trouble.

The situation can be worse if the debtor dies and the bank springs a nasty surprise on the spouse. “In case of credit card debts, banks tend to offer amnesty to the spouse. However, if the bank refuses to waive it, it can impact the family seriously,“ says Pai. Taking any other loans without informing the spouse is as fraught with risk.

What you can do about it: As far as credit card debt is concerned, ensure that the spouse pays the entire due amount on time. In case of an income crisis, it is better to take a loan against assets instead of a costly personal loan.

Hiding a bad habitspouse

Is your spouse a compulsive shopper?
It may be a harbinger of routine budgetary upheavals and a string of lies.Has your spouse told you about his or her new-found love for stock trading?
Be proud of the partner, but also take it as a warning sign. It can grow into a compulsion that could set in motion a lying pattern to justify the losses. Perhaps your spouse is fond of card-playing sessions? It may be harmless. However, it could turn into a habit he or she may find hard to break. The consequence are financially debilitating.

What you can do about it: In case of shopping addictions, you can have the spouse follow a strict budget and keep an eye on bigger goals. You can also enforce ECS mandate for essential expenses so that discretionary purchases are carried out only after mandatory ones. For other addictions, keep a watch over changes in spending patterns and credit card statements. Also keep an eye on sudden mood changes.

Lending to others

This is probably the most irksome reasons that couples lie about. Lending money to friends, even acquaintances, without the guarantee of it being returned is a perennial source of annoyance for many a spouse. The sum may seem insignificant, but if done on a regular basis, it could add up to a big amount. While one cannot draw a parallel when it comes to family , it evokes the same response, resulting in lies.

What you can do about it: To encourage the partner to reveal such transactions, it is a good idea to temper one’s response and deal with it calmly .

Source : TOI- 26 OCT’2015