Top Signs of Financial Infidelity to Watch For

financial abuse financial infidelity infidelity
Woman sees signs of financial infidelity

When people think about infidelity, they typically think about one spouse or the other cheating with another person. However, did you know there's an entirely different type of infidelity that may not even involve another person? It's called financial infidelity or "financial cheating."

If you think that your spouse is committing financial infidelity, there are warning signs. From large purchases on their own to small things that can add up to significant issues, here are the top signs. 

Related post: 3 Key Things You Probably Don't Know About Infidelity 

What Constitutes Financial Infidelity? 

Financial infidelity occurs when one spouse or partner hides information relating to finances from the other partner. That could include excessive spending, using family funds to help a friend without telling your spouse, increasing credit card debt, or even gambling. It not only has the ability to destroy any trust within a marriage or partnership completely but can also cause more financial problems for both parties. 

In mild cases, this type of behavior can put some strain on relationships and cause one partner to harbor feelings of distrust against the other. In more severe cases, it can create a wedge between partners that they're unable to overcome. In all instances, it's a negative thing for marriages and partnerships.

Related post: Three Phases of Healing from Infidelity

How to Identify Financial Infidelity

There are a few things that you should look for when you suspect secretive financial behavior. Keep track of your finances as best as possible so you can always know if your spouse is committing financial infidelity. As you learn more about the signs of financial infidelity, it may be essential to look at your own life and finances. Are you in a position where you (or your spouse) could commit financial infidelity? Quite frankly, if you aren't actively involved in the family finances, the two of you may be far from on the same page.

Signs of financial infidelity include:

A Secretive Spouse

A spouse who has been open in the past but who shuts down seemingly out of nowhere can be a red flag. When looking at the signs, consider your spouse's normal behavior. Have you noticed changes in how they are spending money?  Even if they are someone who was not very open in your relationship before, this can be a sign of financial infidelity.

Related post: Cover Your Assets: How Your Spouse Might be Hiding Theirs

Individual Credit Cards

While individual credit cards are not bad, and I would recommend that each spouse has at least one major credit card in their name, they become a problem when hidden from each other. If your spouse opens a credit card without your knowledge, increases the credit limit, or removes you from one of your accounts, these could be red flags. They could be racking up credit card debt. 

Secrets in Other Areas 

A secretive spouse is rarely a good thing. If your spouse is secretive about their phone, banking information, or computer, this could mean financial infidelity (among many other things). While there should be some amount of independence in a marriage, it's important that spouses have access to all of the family's financial information so that they can make sound financial decisions and they can handle it if any emergency arises. In other words, individual bank accounts may make sense, but a secret bank account can be a problem. 

Unexpected Change In Income

If there is a sudden change in your spouse's income, you must make sure that the change is because of a legitimate reason. If it is not, this could be one of the biggest red flags. In the best cases, a reduction in income can put a significant strain on a marriage. In the worst cases, if the change in income is because one spouse committed financial infidelity, it could kill your marriage. Stay vigilant when learning about what your spouse is making. 

How to Protect Yourself 

One of the easiest ways that you can combat financial infidelity is to increase your financial literacy. The greater your financial knowledge, the harder it is for someone to take advantage of you. Staying proactively involved with your finances is also essential. Knowing what typical cash flow looks like for your household allows you to be more aware of a notable change. This is important if you want to make sure that you can stay on top of any issues that could come up. 

Another important thing to do is to make sure that both parts of any marriage or partnership have equal access to finances. This does not mean that all money has to be commingled. In fact, what this means may vary from couple to couple. However, it's important to find a balance based on transparency that works best in your relationship. Joint bank accounts, credit cards, and mutual expenses will make transparency easier, but it's not the only way to do it. If one partner knows that the other partner has access to everything they do financially, they may be less inclined to commit financial infidelity. In other words, it's okay to have individual savings accounts, but a secret savings account could be a problem.  

There are so many issues that can come up that can be marriage-enders, and financial infidelity is one of the worst. Along with the strain it puts on the emotional parts of marriage, it will also cause huge issues with your finances and can lead to divorce. 

Related post: Financial Abuse: Understanding It and How to Protect Yourself


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At Intentional Divorce Solutions, we're committed to guiding individuals through the complexities of divorce with an approach centered on empowered choices and respectful outcomes. Our team provides comprehensive support and expertise in several key areas:

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