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Overcoming financial infidelity

Financial infidelity. It's more common than you might think in the U.S. A CreditCards.com survey found that 6 million consumers in the U.S. have hidden a financial account from a significant other.

Financial infidelity. It's more common than you might think in the U.S.
A CreditCards.com survey found that 6 million consumers in the U.S. have hidden a financial account from a significant other.
Laurie Itkin, financial adviser and author of “Every Woman Should Know Her Options,” says keeping secrets about income or expenses can be more harmful than sexual infidelity. Many times, the two go hand in hand.

“There have been cases where a man is hiring a prostitute or an escort, and instead of paying cash, he pays by check and once they're going through divorce proceedings, it’s pretty clear there was financial infidelity in addition to sexual infidelity," says Itkin.
There are also cases that have nothing to do with sexual infidelity. People with gambling problems or shopping addictions run up huge credit card debts that they keep secret from their spouses, or they hide bank accounts. To avoid these kinds of situations, communication is key.
“It's very important that couples sit down together ... and discuss budgets, discuss goals for money," says Itkin. "Couples that are totally engaged with each other, in terms of their spending and investing, end up having much fewer conflicts about money.”
Some experts say couples should always combine finances, no matter what. Others swear by keeping things separate. Itkin says--why not have both?
You could have a joint account for household essentials and personal accounts for money to spend on things you want. Of course, couples should still be open about the transactions in those personal accounts.

Couples should also be completely open about their financial pasts. Know each other's credit scores, debts and account balances. But what are your options if financial infidelity has already occurred?

If you find your spouse is overspending on unnecessary items, try to find out what emotional need they are trying to fulfill. In some cases, you might consider meeting with a relationship counselor, financial planner, or both.

The best way to overcome financial infidelity? Make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place. With a little budgeting and a lot of honesty, you and your partner are well on your way to being on the same financial page.

For CreditCards.com, I'm Kristin Wong.

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