Money Lies that Could Ruin Your Relationship

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Updated on Thursday, June 4, 2015

Money Lies that Could Ruin Your Relationship

Over the past few years of being a personal finance blogger, I’ve heard some pretty incredible stories about money lies.

One story that stands out is my friend’s husband who one day admitted to her that his work hadn’t been paying him for months. The only way he could pay their mortgage was by withdrawing money from their retirement funds. His employer kept promising the money was coming, but the company simply wasn’t doing well. He didn’t tell his wife anything about the situation and drained all of their savings while she went about her normal routine of bringing kids to school, shopping, and spending time with her friends. When he finally hit rock bottom and told her, it wasn’t pretty. This is definitely an extreme example but highlights how bad money lies can get in relationships.

If you aren’t careful, even small money lies can ruin your relationship for good. Here are some to avoid:

1. Hiding Credit Card Debt

Many people hide their credit card debt from their significant others. A couple I know worked hard to get out of debt together, and the husband was so proud of all their accomplishments. The only problem was that his wife, feeling constricted by their budget, took out another credit card and quietly used it. She kept intending to pay it off quickly (it was used just for one large purchase initially) but as it happens with most credit cards, the interest and the costs just kept rising. Keeping separate debt and separate cards can ruin the trust of your significant other. It’s best to come clean and have transparency with your spending.

2. Lying About the Price of Something

“How much did that cost?” “Oh it was only about $20.00.”

Does that sound familiar?

Many couples lie about the cost of their extra spending. For example, women might fudge just how much their highlights actually cost while men might say they got a great deal on their 50” plasma. It might seem harmless, like a white lie, to adjust the price slightly when reporting back to your significant other, but again it’s best to be honest. If you feel constricted in your spending then perhaps it’s better to have separate accounts where you each get a certain amount to spend without having to divulge the details. 

3. Lying About Helping Friends or Family

If your significant other has a friend or family member who always experiences hard times, you might get tired of helping them out. Whether they never pay you back or always show up at your house asking for money, a needy person like this can wear on a family’s finances. Even if you and your significant other are well off, there is definitely a limit to generosity. If one person forbids their partner from helping in one of these situations, but they do it anyway, it would be a breech of trust.

4. Lying About Bad Habits or Addictions

I thought a friend of mine had the perfect family. They lived in a beautiful home, her parents had great jobs, and she and her brother got along really well. The problem was that her dad had a hidden addiction to gambling. He was the most upstanding person imaginable, and needless to say, the addiction was quite a shock to their family. He finally admitted it when he started being late on his house payments, but luckily he got the help he needed. His employer was very generous with giving him time off so he could get help, and his wife helped him figure out how to get back on track. Now I’m sure this would have been the downfall of most relationships and I’m sure the conversations were very tense in their house, but I admired this family for sticking together because a secret addiction would likely ruin most relationships.

5. Lying About Time Out With Friends

My husband often goes out with his guy friends to catch up and grab a beer. Most of them are in medical school with him, so I enjoy the fact that he can bounce ideas off of them or ask them questions about exams without me having to be there to hear about it. He always goes with a budget and occasionally buys a beer for his friends. The point is, I don’t really mind how the money is spent, so long as he doesn’t go over budget.

Significant others who lie about how money is spent when they’re out with friends can erode trust. For example, if they tell their partner that their friends will pay them back or that they only bought one drink (and it’s not true) their partner will be less and less likely to encourage them to go out, which will make one person feel constricted and controlled.

It’s About More Than Money

You see, money lies are never just about money. They are about trust. The reasons people lie about money are actually more important than the lie itself. Getting to the bottom of why your partner lied, whether they feel scared to tell you the truth because of your reaction or controlled by your rules, is important to know. Money lies don’t have to be the end to a relationship, and learning why they happen can actually strengthen your bond. The point is to come clean and work on things and not let lies about money control the future of your relationship.

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