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Financial Infidelity


Get yer filthy paws awf my moneys!

The other day I came across an article about “financial infidelity”. Wikipedia defines financial infidelity as “a term used to describe the secretive act of spending money, possessing credit and credit cards, holding secret accounts or stashes of money, borrowing money, or otherwise incurring debt unknown to one’s spouse, partner, or significant other. Adding to the monetary strain commonly associated with financial infidelity in a relationship is a subsequent loss of intimacy and trust in the relationship.”

Basically, according to the Internets, married people are cheating on each other with money.


Within a week of our moving in together, Mike had added my name to his checking account and I’d closed mine out and deposited all of my funds into his account. Now, I wouldn’t recommend this to all couples, in some situations that could be a really stupid thing to do. But in our case it made sense. For one thing, I had excellent credit and a knack for data entry, while Mike made lots of money that he never took to the bank. He used to get all his bills in red envelopes, not because he couldn’t afford to pay them but because he never had money in the bank. Instead, all his money was scattered across the kitchen table, shoved into cracks in the walls to keep out drafts, tucked into books like so many bookmarks, and wadded up in the dryer lint catcher. It drove me crazy. So when we agreed to move in together, we agreed to a joint bank account so that I could manage our finances. And manage them I did! Every night when Mike came home from work he would put all his cash in a cigar box we kept next to the bed. Every morning I would deposit his cigar box cash at the bank. I paid all our bills, balanced the checkbook, and watched our budget.  By the time we married we had zero debt and a nice little nest egg. Then we moved to New York and blew it all. Then we paid down our debt again, built another nice little nest egg, and moved back to California.

The value of a man who, without complaint, hands over his paycheck every week, is not lost on me. I know how lucky I am to have a partner who is so careful of his spending, so sincere in his desire to help me build the future we want for ourselves. It’s a blessing to know that we have the same goals in mind and that we’re both doing the best we can to meet them. Which is why the thought of financial infidelity is so absolutely horrifying. Aside from death or actual infidelity, I can’t imagine many things more terrifying than discovering that my husband has secret credit card debt. Or secret gambling debt. Or secret anything.

I thought about this when I read the article, then I googled “financial infidelity” and found 809,000 more articles, and with each word I read I climbed higher and higher on my money-management pedestal. Patted myself on the back and told myself how superior we are because we would never lie to each other about money. We’re better than that. And then I remembered the parking ticket.

If I get a parking ticket and send the check off and don’t say anything to Mike about that $55 – is that financial infidelity? What if I go shopping and tell him I only spent $100, but I actually spent $350? Or like, we each have a budgeted personal allowance of $80 a month and Mike never spends that much, he hardly ever spends more than forty bucks, but I sometimes spend three times my allotted amount and I’ve never told him (until now.) I just let him think I stay within my budget because I don’t want him to get mad and it’s not like he ever looks at our budget sheets, because he totally trusts me to take care of it – so am I cheating on my spouse with money?


What do you think? About all of this, I mean, not just whether or not I’m cheating on my husband’s bank account. How do you handle money with your partner? Not that that is any of my business, no siree. Oooh, touchy subject, this is. Money! Scary stuff, I know. But I’m curious. What do you think?

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  • grendl


  • Oooh…I’m not sure what I think of this. My husband and I are a lot like you guys – we consolidated money early on b/c he was AWFUL about paying bills and I’m…well, super Type A with spreadsheets like you and it was just easier for me to take care of it all. That being said, I definitely don’t disclose to Charlie everything I spend money on (or save money on!). I mean, he didn’t know we had $20k in saving for a down payment on our house until I mentioned it in passing one day, and it blew him away…though I don’t tell him when I spend $125 on a haircut either. So yeah, I guess I’m not entirely truthful about what I’m doing with the money, but at the same point, he still gets things he needs (and sometimes just wants) and we make our bills, somehow, every month. It’s not such a bad thing to keep a few of the details from people who aren’t money-minded (in my opinion). They generally spend the money if they see it without thinking of the big picture!

  • grendl

    Would it be okay to sprinkle salt peter in your loved one’s coffee every morning? I’m just asking. 🙂

    • Frost

      What’s salt peter??

      • It’s what John kept berating Abigail to produce in ‘1776’ while she demanded pins…

        It’s also what the Navy used to add to sailor’s drink and food to make it so there was no semen from the seamen.

  • I don’t really know where I stand on the money thing so I’ll bow out of commenting on it…

    I must, however, say how amused I am at the photo. Reminds me of some strippers I’ve known.

    • Frost


  • I’ve been thinking about this post since I commented, and I thought I should maybe clarify – I don’t tell Char how much I spend on everything, BUT, if he asked, I would tell him the truth. He has full access to all of our accounts online – the thing is, he just doesn’t really care. He trusts me to make good decisions with our money, so I really don’t run most decisions past him anymore.

    This post definitely has me thinking though…

    • Frost

      I guess that’s kind of what I do? He has full access to all of our records, he just doesn’t ever ask to look at them. But are we taking advantage of their trust if we omit the truth? That’s what I’m struggling with…

      Of course, if anything BIG comes up, I am honest and forthright. It’s just with the little things that I lie by omission. Parking tickets, shopping trips, etc. With everything else I’m super forthright.

      Oh the confusion! Oh the guilt! Oh the complexity of it all!

  • Tara

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Yup, makes one think. I really like the ‘discretionary allowance,” thing, though. It makes all kinds of sense. I’ll bet we would all be surprised though, if we knew how many married couples keep their finances separate. And how did you make Theo do that?

    • Frost

      I tucked his lip up into his gums and he lay there, completely at my will. Such a good little wiener.

  • ‘Cita

    Every woman wants an obedient wiener. But they are rare. So rare.