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Half of Partners Keep Spending Secrets – Financial Infidelity by Rick Kahler, CFP®

Adriaan Brits



Financial Infidelity by Rick Kahler

Financial infidelity is a common issue in romantic relationships, with nearly half of partners keeping spending secrets from each other. A recent survey by CouponBirds found that the average threshold for spending without consulting one’s partner before it becomes financial infidelity is $13,510, although this varies greatly by location. In Massachusetts, the threshold is as high as $23,416, while in Rhode Island it’s as low as $2,389.

The survey also revealed that over half of the respondents avoid discussing money with their partners altogether, as it often leads to arguments. When couples do discuss money, 37% of them report having arguments about it, with 13% arguing about it every day.

It’s important for couples to establish open and honest communication about their finances and set boundaries that work for them. It’s crucial to distinguish between secrecy and privacy, and to respect each other’s autonomy and privacy while also being transparent and trustworthy with money. One way that many couples find effective is to give each partner an equal personal allowance to spend on themselves, while making larger purchases and money decisions jointly.

Ultimately, any secret around money that you would feel ashamed to have your partner discover is an example of financial infidelity. If in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of honesty and transparency when it comes to finances.

In addition to establishing spending boundaries and being transparent with finances, it’s important for couples to also address underlying issues that may contribute to financial infidelity. Money is often tied to emotions and values, and disagreements about finances can be a symptom of deeper relationship problems.

It’s worth noting that the survey didn’t explore the level or type of separate spending that would be considered financial infidelity, only the amount that would be serious enough to end a relationship. However, any secret around money that one would feel ashamed to have their partner discover is an example of financial infidelity.

Couples should also address underlying issues that may contribute to financial infidelity, such as emotional stress or power imbalances in the relationship. Financial Therapy or counseling can be helpful in resolving these issues and creating a healthier financial dynamic within the coupleship. This is one of the major topics of Rick Kahler’s new book, Coupleship Inc., co-authored with couple’s therapist Debra Kaplan.

It’s also important to acknowledge that financial infidelity can have serious consequences beyond the immediate impact on the relationship. Secret spending can lead to significant debt, credit problems, and even legal issues if it involves fraudulent activities. It can also erode trust and create long-lasting resentment, making it difficult to rebuild the relationship.

To prevent financial infidelity, couples can take proactive steps such as regularly reviewing their finances together, setting financial goals as a team, and being accountable to each other. This can help create a culture of transparency and shared responsibility around money.

It’s also important to recognize that financial infidelity can happen even in the absence of malicious intent. Some partners may simply have different attitudes towards money and spending, or may not fully understand the impact of their financial decisions on the relationship. By having open and honest conversations about finances, couples can bridge these gaps in understanding and work towards a shared vision for their financial future.


In conclusion, financial infidelity is a complex issue that can have serious consequences for couples. By establishing clear spending boundaries, being transparent with finances, and addressing underlying issues, couples can prevent financial infidelity and create a healthier and more balanced financial dynamic within their relationship. It takes effort and open communication, but the payoff is a stronger, more resilient coupleship.

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