How to Avoid "Financial Infidelity"
If you or your partner have ever spent (a lot of) money without telling the other, you’re not alone.
This has become such a widespread problem for couples that there’s even a term for it: Financial Infidelity.
Calling it infidelity might seem a bit dramatic, but it makes sense when you consider that finances are the leading cause of relationship stress. Each couple has their own definition of “a lot of money,” but as you can imagine, or may have even experienced yourself, making assumptions or hiding purchases from your partner can be damaging to both your finances AND your relationship.
Here’s a strategy to help avoid financial infidelity, and hopefully lessen some stress in your household:
Set up “Fun Funds” accounts.
A “Fun Fund” is a personal bank account for each partner which is separate from your main savings or checking account (which may be shared).
Here’s how it works: Each time you pay your bills or review your whole budget together, set aside an equal amount of any leftover money for each partner. That goes in your Fun Fund.
The agreement is that the money in this account can be spent on anything without having to consult your significant other. For instance, you may immediately take some of your Fun Funds and buy that low-budget, made-for-tv movie that you love but your partner hates. And they can’t be upset that you spent the money! It was yours to spend! (They might be a little upset when you suggest watching that movie they hate on a quiet night at home, but you’re on your own for that one!)
Your partner on the other hand may wait and save up the money in their Fun Fund to buy $1,000 worth of those “Add water and watch them grow to 400x their size!” dinosaurs. You may see it as a total waste, but it was their money to spend! Plus, this isn’t $1,000 taken away from paying your bills, buying food, or putting your kids through school. (And it’ll give them something to do while you’re watching your movie.)
It might be a little easier to set up Fun Funds for the both of you when you have a strategy for financial independence. With some work, you two have the potential to get closer to those beloved B movies and magic growing dinosaurs.
Sources: CNBC: “Surprise! Your partner may be lying to you about money.” 2.8.2017
CNBC: “Fighting with your spouse? It’s probably about this.” 2.4.2015