Today's guest post comes from the amazing Omilola Oshikoya, Africa’s premier wealth coach and she's sharing some really good food for thought when it comes to finances and marriage. I hope you enjoy this article!
Have you ever bought a bag or a pair of shoes without letting your spouse know? Have you ever made an investment in real estate without informing your spouse? Do you have credit cards or loans that your spouse knows nothing about or money hidden in a secret account? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are guilty of committing financial infidelity.
What is Financial Infidelity?
Let us start by defining, the word ‘infidelity’. According to the Oxford Dictionary, infidelity can be defined as “the action or state of being unfaithful to a spouse”. The key word here is “unfaithful”. Synonyms include breach of trust, deceit, falseness, double dealing, duplicity etc.
According to Investopedia Financial Infidelity occurs when couples with combined finances lie to each other about money. For example one partner may hide significant debts in a separate account while the other partner is unaware. Another example highlighted by Investopedia is when one partner makes large discretionary expenditures without discussing the matter with their partner.
Some other examples include lending money to a family member without the consent of a spouse, non-disclosure of financial assets etc.
A recent survey revealed that 50% of married adults admitted to keeping money secrets from their spouses. The study further revealed that 37% of men and 56% of women admitted to lying to their partner about money (Huffington Post). Another report by CreditCards.com found that 7 million Americans – mostly men – have hidden bank accounts or credit card accounts.
Recently there was a situation where a man was ill, in a state of coma and required urgent medical intervention. This man was very wealthy however he had not involved his wife in the finances of the family and she didn’t know where he kept his money and so it was difficult for the family to pay for his medical bills. There was another scenario where a young girl, in her mid-twenties, had to bear huge financial burdens of the family such as paying school fees of her siblings after her father passed away. Her father was a wealthy man however he didn’t manage his finances when he was alive and he also didn’t empower his wife.
This generation, women are financially independent and in some cases earn more money than their spouses. As a result, these women do not disclose how much they earn to their spouses for various reasons.
This is clearly a common phenomenon around the world and between both sexes.
Is it wrong to keep details about your money from your spouse? If it is then why is it wrong?
“From hidden debt to secret expenditures, lying about finances can cause a marriage to go into default” - Kimberly Foss
I remember when I got married about 10 years ago, I was advised by a well-meaning family member not to open a joint account with my husband. In the person’s opinion, joint accounts cause problems in marriages. I have also heard people say “don’t let your husband know how much you are earning or how much you are making. Furthermore, I have also heard women say “his money is our money, but my money is your money”.
Now I’m sure the people who have this ideology have valid reasons however should this really be the norm?
Let us look at the definition of marriage. One of my favorite books, the Bible, defines marriage as follows:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”. The key word here is “One”.
Marriage can also be defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the legally or formally recognized union of a man and a woman as partners in a relationship”. The Key word here is “Union”.
In marriage you are on the same team and just as you should be open about everything that concerns your marriage, you should also be completely honest and open about your finances.
Like the examples I gave earlier on, financial infidelity can cause problems for your spouse as well as your children in the future.
How can we become more faithful financially?
- First of all if you are about to get married it is important to discuss financial matters with your fiancé. What are your financial goals and aspirations and what are your fiancés financial goals and aspirations? It is also important to disclose any debt incurred before marriage.
- You should identify and understand your financial personalities. Are you a impulsive, conservative, a hoarder etc?
- Identify your financial strengths and weaknesses?
- Decide on what works best for your marriage. I love this quote from the A-Z of personal finance which says “there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to finances in relationships, but with careful planning and clear communication you can avoid many frustrating conversations.” If a joint account works then by all means open one. Another alternative would be to maintain separate accounts but create a joint account for savings or expenses.
- Decide who pays for what. Some couples may decide that the husband pays for major expenses like rent, school fees etc while the wife pays for domestic expenses such as food, domestic staff etc. In some case the bills are paid equally. There are also instances where a couple can decide that all the monies the wife earns is put into savings and investments while the family survives on the husbands’ salary.
- Disclose all your assets and monies and the location of documents relating to these assets. Ensure your spouse is your next of kin. Disclose passwords or pins for bank accounts
- Create a family budget and include the children, this is an opportunity for the family to bond. Decide on a time where the family can come together to discuss financial matters.
- Teach your children from an early age, how to earn, save, spend, invest and give.
A marriage should be built on trust. Communication and honesty is also important for a marriage to last. Many marriages have ended up in divorce due to financial infidelity. As the year 2016 begins make a decision to be open and honest with your spouse about your finances. Talk about your finances. It may be the lifeline that your marriage requires.
About Omilola: Omilola Oshikoya is Africa’s premier wealth coach with over 12 years’ experience in finance/investment banking. A columnist for the second most widely read newspaper in Nigeria and the creator of PocketFinance, a blog focused on providing information on personal finance & business for entrepreneurs, Omilola’s goal is to inspire this generation to live the “Richer Life” and to help eradicate poverty by teaching youths how to make money (business/entrepreneurship), how to manage it (personal finance), how to grow it (investment) and the purpose of wealth.
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