Financial Infidelity: A Quarter of Americans Willing to Hide Money Troubles from Their Spouse

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It’s cheating, but a different kind. According to a new survey, 1 in 4 married people in the U.S. would not tell their spouse if they were experiencing financial difficulties. Some didn’t want to worry their partner, while others feared it would hurt their relationship.

The survey, conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), gives us a look at how married couples deal with money troubles in an unstable economy. Financial difficulties have ruined many a relationship, even as studies have indicated that the Great Recession has actually kept couples that were considering divorce together.

(MORE: Should You Merge Your Finances or Keep Them Separate?)

But according to the survey, 24% of Americans said they would not inform their spouse of financial difficulties, with 9% fearing it would worry their spouse, 8% saying their spouse was unaware of the problems and that they planned to keep it that way and 7% expressing concern that being truthful would hurt the relationship.

It’s important to know how to talk to your spouse about money so that it doesn’t hurt your marriage down the road. To do so, the NFCC offers a few tips:

  • Be open to adjusting your lifestyle if spending cutbacks or second jobs are necessary.
  • Don’t hide income, but also don’t hide your debt. Be as transparent as possible with your credit report, bank statements and insurance policies.
  • Never try to have serious conversations about money if you’re in the middle of an argument. Set aside some time to talk about it in a much calmer manner.
  • Consider making a joint budget with your spouse that includes some sort of savings account.
  • If you create a joint budget, designate who is responsible for paying certain bills.
Being untruthful about money can also open up the possibility that you’re being untruthful about other things. Because if you’re being coy about your finances, what else are you not mentioning?
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