What is Financial Infidelity?

About the Author

lyndsey xa

true Lyndsey Xa, CFP®

Financial Planning Manager
Salt Lake City, Utah

About the Author

lyndsey xa

true Lyndsey Xa, CFP® [Providence]

Financial Planning Manager
Logan, Utah

About the Author

lyndsey xa

true Lyndsey Xa, CFP® [St. George]

Financial Planning Manager
St. George, Utah

Discover what financial infidelity is, the signs to watch for, and how it can impact relationships. Learn strategies for preventing and recovering from this breach of trust.

What is Financial Infidelity?

Financial infidelity is a serious issue that can have a profound impact on relationships and families. At its core, financial infidelity involves intentionally hiding financial actions or decisions from one's partner, which can lead to a breakdown of trust and communication. This breach of trust can manifest in various forms, from secret bank accounts to undisclosed debt, and can stem from deeper problems within the relationship.

The consequences of financial infidelity can be far-reaching, affecting not only the couple's financial stability but also their emotional well-being and the overall health of their relationship.

Defining Financial Infidelity

Put simply, financial infidelity occurs when you or your spouse intentionally hides financial actions or decisions from one another. This can manifest in various forms, such as:

  • Secret bank accounts or "slush funds"
  • Undisclosed debt
  • Hidden purchases
  • Lying about income and expenses

Financial infidelity can potentially stem from a deeper problem in the relationship where finances haven't been openly discussed or made a main focal point.

Signs of Financial Infidelity

There are several red flags to be aware of that may indicate financial infidelity in your relationship. One of the most common signs is discrepancies in income and expenses. If your partner's communicated income doesn't match what's actually coming in or there are unexplained withdrawals and expenses, this could be a sign of hidden financial activity.

Another red flag is secrecy around finances. If your partner begins to hide documents or makes it difficult for you to access bank accounts or credit card statements, this may be cause for concern. Additionally, if there are multiple or unexplained accounts and debts that your partner can't adequately explain, this could indicate financial infidelity.

Finally, changes in spending habits, such as your partner indulging more than usual without a clear reason, could also be a warning sign.

The Impact on Families

It goes without saying that the impact of financial infidelity can be devastating for a family. It can destroy trust, which is a fundamental pillar of any relationship. Hidden debts and expenditures can disrupt budgeting and savings goals, leading to uncertainty, conflict, and even financial instability if one partner’s obligations become too difficult to meet.

This is to say nothing of the emotional toll that financial infidelity can create, with feelings of betrayal and resentment being brought into the relationship. In some cases, the damage caused by financial infidelity can be irreparable, leading to the breakdown of the relationship altogether.

Preventing Financial Infidelity

The most effective strategies for preventing financial infidelity involve open communication and transparency. Couples should make a habit of regularly discussing their financial goals, values, and concerns to ensure they're on the same page. Setting financial goals together and creating a budget and savings plan can help align priorities and prevent misunderstandings. Maintaining joint accounts for shared expenses while allowing for individual financial autonomy can also foster a sense of trust and accountability.

Perhaps most importantly, couples should strive to create an environment where money is never a taboo subject, and both partners feel comfortable discussing financial matters openly and honestly.

Recovering from Financial Infidelity

If financial infidelity does occur, recovery requires addressing both the financial and personal aspects. The first step is to have an honest conversation with full disclosure about the infidelity. From there, couples must accept the financial impact and develop a recovery plan, possibly with the help of a financial advisor.

On a personal level, both partners must commit to rebuilding trust through honesty and accountability. This may involve addressing the emotional impact of the betrayal, potentially with the help of a therapist. Ultimately, recovering from financial infidelity requires patience, understanding, and a shared commitment to improving the relationship.



  • EP Wealth Advisors (“EPWA”) makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information presented in this article. EPWA has used its best efforts to verify the information presented. However, EPWA cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice.
  • Content does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice nor is it intended to supplement professional individualized advice. Always consult a financial professional regarding your unique financial circumstances.


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