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Avoid Cheating Through the PocketbookAccording to an NEFE (National Endowment for Financial Education) study, a record 33 percent of Americans are committing acts of financial betrayal against their spouses.

Some of the common cases for these “financial affairs” that often lead to one spouse deciding to file for divorce include the following:

  • Secret credit card spending
  • Beauty treatments
  • Gambling and other addictions
  • Lying about income

In most cases, the “cheater” gets caught during the process of filing a joint mortgage application when a bad credit score surfaces as a result of the activities. From there, the divorce papers aren’t far behind.

The NEFE notes that 76 percent of participants in the study, conducted by Harris Interactive, admitted that the financial cheating by themselves or a spouse injured their relationship; another 10 percent said it led to divorce forms; and eight percent said it caused a separation.

Other findings:

  • 30 percent of cheating couples concealed a purchase, bank account statement, bill or cash from the other
  • 10 percent lied about their finances, earnings and debt
  • 35 percent said they believe some part of their finances should remain removed from their spouse’s knowledge

Lesson being: honesty is the best policy because it’s very difficult to hide one of these financial affairs. If you want to avoid cheating through your pocketbook, then we recommend taking the following steps:

  • Joint accounts and credit cards: When finances are combined, one spouse is less likely to test the limits of what they can get away with.
  • Dialing back judgment: Too often, these situations arise in part because one spouse has set a judgmental tone with regard to finances, and the other spouse thinks it would be easier just to conceal the purchase and “beg forgiveness instead of permission.” By having conversations about money instead of arguments, you’re more likely to enter into big purchases or other financial behaviors together instead of apart.
  • Don’t avoid the money talk: The stats say finances are the main reason most couples get a divorce — even ahead of adultery. Therefore, many couples refuse to ever have “the talk.” Big mistake. Without communication, spouses are setting their marriages up for failure. Respect one another enough to talk about this issue.

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