Financial infidelity can kill even the most solid relationships. Expert tips on how to safeguard both, your finances and love.
Hiding money and spending habits from your spouse can land your relationship in trouble as financial infidelity is one of the biggest problems in marriages today. Most times it’s unintentional and starts with a harmless lie in order to avoid confrontation. Imagine this— you’re walking down the street and a fancy couture dress catches your attention. Before you know it, you are the proud owner of something ridiculous and super expensive. You come home pleased and excited to show off your new buy to your better half, but no sooner do you step in that you realise that the gleeful enthusiasm of your girlfriends might not rub off on him. You proceed slyly to the cupboard to destroy evidence and hide your secret credit card, all the while being mentally pleased with yourself for being so clever about avoiding an argument. You hop onto the sofa, begin couch surfing and forget all about it until the bill arrives and you woefully realise that you have bitten off far more than you can chew. You struggle to pay off your debt, borrow money from friends and are eventually ousted by your partner who is hurt and feels cheated because you have been financially unfaithful. This month, experts talk about the best way to foolproof your financial assets without compromising on your love life.
You think finding a partner, falling in love and then settling down for your happily- ever- after was hard? Put money in the mix for some added drama. Love and money just don’t work together. Just because you love someone does not mean you will love their spending habits too. “It’s very important that you sit with your partner and asses your spending habits,” says Mukesh Jha, director, Gupta and Jha Financial
Consultancy Services, adding that everyone has a different way of handling money. “Find out your partner’s way of dealing with money and compare it to yours,” says Jha. If you are an impulsive or emotional shopper and your partner has a more practical take on shopping, that means both of you have contrasting styles of spending money. Get to know each others’ money habits before you join finances as a couple,” advises Nikhil Arya of One- step Financial Solutions.
The first thing to do after you have understood each others’ financial habits is to have some grounds to follow. “Consider creating separate accounts so each of you have control over a reasonable amount of discretionary cash,” says Arya. He also adds that it is advisable to discuss the amount of disposable income each one of you is supposed to have. “Lay out a framework for yourselves to work within. Handling joint finances is a business partnership, so treat it like one,” he says.
If you have already decided upon common goals as a couple, then learn to trust each other with money. It’s not healthy to grill your partner constantly about their spending habits. “Constant queries about each penny spent can cause a feeling of resentment in your spouse, making them more susceptible to hiding expenses in order to avoid a confrontation,” warns Arya. If your partner cheats on you financially, weigh the situation rationally and talk to them about it. “Make your partner understand that they will have to make financial sacrifices to get your budget on track and be honest about your expectations for the future,” says Jha, adding that financial infidelity occurs when a partner feels deprived. “Ensure that the money you allocate each other every month is equal,” he says.
Have Common Goals
Whether it is buying a house or saving for a vacation, discuss the things that are most important to the both of you and define your roles accordingly, says Arya. Having a common aspiration or a goal will not only bring you closer but will decrease the chances of cheating on money, says Jha.
Have a financial planner and include him/ her in your monthly financial meetings. “Having a trusted professional as part of the conversation can make it easier,” says Jha. That way you and your partner can not only assess if you are on track financially, but can also sort out any disagreements in a professional, unemotional manner. The more open you are about your finances to begin with, the easier it will be to keep the lines of communication open. From listing down the number of bank accounts in your name, to the nature of personal savings, to all the financial transactions you have ever made, including tax payments, needs to be discussed with both, your partner and financial advisor in order to plan better.