Finder survey shows Aussies think financial infidelity worse than cheating

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Heartbreak comes in many forms and for one in five Australians, being cheated out of money is a greater betrayal than the traditional relationship death knell of romantic cheating.

Financial infidelity refers to lying to a partner about money, from secret debt and pay cuts at work to gambling losses.

In a survey of 1096 respondents, 21 per cent said this kind of breach constituted a greater betrayal than adultery.

About 22 per cent of women feel this way compared to about 20 per cent of men, the survey suggests, and the Baby Boomer generation is the most incensed about toxic money secrets, with 23 per cent ranking it as worse than an affair.

Finder personal finance expert Sarah Megginson said the results flowed from the attack on “security” financial infidelity represented.

“It is a betrayal,” she said.

“It is widely accepted in society, that if someone cheats on you, they have betrayed you and that is the worst thing they can do.

“But a financial betrayal can be just as emotionally devastating, especially if it involves hiding and secrets.”

In one extreme case of infidelity, Ms Megginson said a woman believed she had $400,000 in the bank, but when she tried to buy a business, her world came crashing down.

The vendor told her she needed to speak with her partner or the bank.

She discovered her partner had spent the $400,000, taken out credit cards in her name and the couple had not made a mortgage payment in five months.

“She knew none of it,” Ms Megginson said.

“That is one of the worst case scenarios of thinking you are in one position when the reality is completely different.

“It’s very risky to be a passenger in your finances.”

Ms Megginson said the key to avoiding infidelity and staying true to your loved one was “communication”.

“One thing my husband and I do, I manage the money in our relationship, but every month we sit down and have a money chat and we talk about the upcoming things we want to spend, whether it’s a renovation or a holiday … we have a discussion about it,” she said.

“So we can plan for it and I also keep him up to date on where our debts are, where our mortgage is, so even though he is not responsible for managing the money, he is aware of where we are at.”

She recommended couples retain equal access and oversight to accounts.

The money guru also said if someone felt concerned or “in the dark” about their finances, to approach their partner for information.

“I would say absolutely follow your gut and try to get the information,” she said.

“If your partner gets sensitive or defensive when you bring it up, that’s a red flag.

“The longer you bury your head in the sand, the more potential there is for things to get worse.”