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Does Lying to Him About Money Count as Cheating?

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The hubs and I just had our annual we-need-to-stick-to-our-budget conversation. We have it every year, usually around the start of the new year, right around the time we make resolutions about how we can do better. I always dread the conversation and never really stick to my financial goals. I’m terrible with budgets and even worse at saving money. I’m the kid whose parents would say, “Do you think money grows on trees?” and I’d say, “Well, yes.”  When I was in college, I used my emergency-only credit card for shoes. So you can imagine how much I enjoy having a budget conversation with my husband.

But this year the budget conversation with my husband wasn’t the annual bloodbath it normally is. It felt productive without feeling punitive and we focused on how to enjoy our lives while still saving money. Best of all, we had an open and honest conversation about money without feeling like we needed to hide what we’re really spending from the other. But a new study from CreditCards.com reveals that 1 in 5 Americans has lied to their spouse or partner about a purchase of over $500. And, the study says, 7.2 million Americans have hidden an entire credit card account from their spouse. Reading this I can’t help but wonder: Is lying about money just another way of cheating on your spouse? 

When I was a kid, lying about money was just part of life. My Dad was super tight with money and never got over growing up poor himself. The problem was he wasn’t poor anymore and had three children who needed all the normal stuff kids need. So school clothes shopping or party dress purchases became the source of huge fights between my parents. Mom got smart and just stopped telling him. And when he’d see one of us in a new dress or shirt and ask if it was new, we knew to respond no. This undoubtedly made my dad think he was going crazy, but the truth is lying about money was the only way my mom could get anything done.

Now that I’m married with kids I realize how horrible it is to lie to your spouse about anything, but certainly money. By the same token, both parties have to have a healthy relationship with money. Both parties need to have a say in how it gets spent. And both parties need to be grown-ups about it and not just spend what they want. Because only children think money grows on trees.

With that in mind, this is the first year I’m sticking to the budget that my husband and I made. And if I need flexibility, I’ll tell him. I see how appreciative he is that I’m being honest and I know how much I appreciate it when he does the same. We’re partners in everything, even in money. It feels great to be working together, even if that means I didn’t get to buy those shoes I so desperately wanted this month. I’m sure there will be another pair I want next month!

Photo: Getty