10 Reasons Your Spouse Is Lying to You About Money

Uncover the hidden financial secrets that could be tearing your relationship apart.
Updated May 8, 2024
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Many people who are married occasionally fib to a spouse about money. But such dishonesty is rarely a good idea. Repeatedly lying about money habits can undermine both your efforts to build wealth and your relationship.

Financial infidelity, or cheating with money, is more common than you might think. According to research published in the Journal of Financial Therapy, more than half of Americans (53%) have deceived their partner about their financial activity.

Here are some common reasons your spouse might lie to you about money.

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They might know you don’t share their spending priorities

Tijana/Adobe couple arguing about money

Some spouses relish a daily Starbucks coffee, while others see it as a waste.

If your spouse knows you disapprove of their spending, they might try to hide it. Not mentioning the little latte fix is an easy way to avoid bickering.

They might not trust you

NDABCREATIVITY/Adobe stressed couple arguing and having marriage problems

Over time, the bonds of trust in a marriage can dissolve. And distrustful spouses can be secretive about money.

For example, your spouse might hide news about work raises, bonuses, or even cash gifts from family. This is not a good sign for your finances — or your marriage.

They might be guilty of hoarding

Rido/Adobe stressed wife holds her head while her husband crosses his arms after a heated argument at home

Hoarding is an expensive habit. As hoarding gets worse, it can be difficult to hide.

However, it might be possible to keep your hoarding habit under wraps in its early stages. Spouses who don’t reveal their full spending patterns might be guilty of hoarding.

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They might have a drug and alcohol addiction

makistock/Adobe woman spend too much money on shopping

Sadly, drug and alcohol abuse sometimes are the source of financial infidelity.

Funding an addiction costs plenty of money. And as everyone knows, addiction and lies typically go hand in hand.

They might have a gambling problem

Dani D.G/Adobe gambler man losing a lot of money playing poker in casino

Spouses who have a gambling problem are likely to try to keep that fact hidden from their significant other.

Some addicts gamble away everything — the house, car, retirement funds — with the other spouse completely in the dark until it’s too late.

They might be having an affair

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe suspicious young man using laptop

Extramarital affairs are another reason why spouses financially cheat.

Affairs often involve secret spending, including running up large credit card debts. It’s even possible that a cheating spouse will steal funds from the other spouse’s bank account.

They might seek revenge

Halfpoint/Adobe colleagues arguing in office

When a marriage starts to go south, spouses can engage in harmful behavior as a way to strike back.

For example, an angry spouse might engage in “revenge shopping” to inflict pain on their partner and get even.

They might want to treat the kids

bernardbodo/Adobe family watching movie in theater

One parent might view a $35 dress for their child as a reasonable expenditure. But if the spouse knows their partner won't agree, they might claim the bill was only $17.50 just to avoid trouble.

Spouses also might downplay the cost of toys and visits to summer camp. This deception can extend to grown children, where a parent might secretly give money to a son or daughter against their spouse's wishes.

They might be trying to fill an emotional hole

Srdjan/Adobe woman feeling betrayed

Gone are the days when only supermodels and celebrities made us feel inadequate. Now, ordinary people — under the guise of an “influencer” — can make us feel inferior too.

The messages we receive from society can convince us that we must purchase luxury creams and fancy sneakers even if we cannot afford them. If we know our spouse won’t approve, we might stay quiet about this spending.

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They might be determined to keep up with the neighbors

fizkes/Adobe young woman feeling jealous

Spending simply so you can “keep up with the Joneses” has been a source of debt forever.

If you can't bear the thought of your neighbors outshining your household, you might spend more than you should — and try to downplay that fact to your spouse.

Bottom line

alfa27/Adobe married couple having conversation

Money woes are a leading cause of marital strife. Sometimes, it can be tempting to hide your financial activity just to keep things calm in a marriage.

However, hiding your spending patterns and other money habits can jeopardize your financial fitness and weaken the bonds of your relationship.

Frank conversations about money can be difficult, but they are almost always the best path forward.

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Author Details

Stacy Garrels Stacy enjoys writing about fintech, consumer deals, the side hustle economy, and random tomfoolery. She's personally tried more than 100 different gigs, including being an Uber driver for one afternoon.

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