Coming Clean: How to Tell Your Partner You Lied About Money

It’s a Common Problem Couples Face

Research shows lying about money is one of the more common reasons couples break up. Even for couples who ultimately stick together, so-called financial infidelity is anything but rare. According to a study published by the University of Southern Mississippi in 2018, 27% of people who consider themselves to be in a committed relationship have lied to their partner about money matters.

These issues range from small things like being less than truthful about trips to the local coffee shop, to more serious problems like an undisclosed gambling addiction. Financial therapists say when coming clean people should initially give their partner space. Financial issues have a way of snowballing out of control, and in response partners have a right to be angry, frustrated, and upset — provided it doesn’t turn physical or threatening.

Planning Your Financially Honest Future

After considering the fact your partner will need to vent once financial infidelity is disclosed, the next step is formulating a plan. Like all apologies, financial planners remind clients that saying sorry without making changes is meaningless.

One of the most valuable tools in this regard is often making a budget. This can include a detailed spending plan for a trip to the store, after which partners can review the receipt. In some cases simply calling your partner while waiting in line to pay can help boost accountability.

Talking Money on a Regular Basis

Advisors will often remind their clients that some financial lies are more difficult to get over than others. Hidden bank accounts, filing for bankruptcy in secret, and large amounts of debt with compounding interest are a few examples. One of the most common recommendations for couples is to routinely have conversations about money.

Some couples choose to visit a financial therapist, although that’s not always feasible in terms of expenses. Sitting down together and going over shared finances once per month can be enough for many relationships. Financial infidelity is a problem many couples face, and some can’t move past it. Changing habits, boosting communication, and being considerate of the emotions involved are all important.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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