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Love and Money: Financial Infidelity and the Damage it Does
Love and Money: Financial Infidelity and the Damage it Does
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Love and Money: Financial Infidelity and the Damage it Does

Doris Kendi
July 22, 2022

On the third anniversary of their wedding, Edwin and his wife April decided to combine their finances. They opened a joint savings account to save money and a current account to manage their bills and daily spending. Once paid, they both transfer all their salary into one account. 

The couple combined their finances for one reason: Save for a home down payment. They cut unnecessary expenses and saved as much as possible to manage that. Or at least they thought. 

Alost a year into the arrangement, April noticed her husband was spending a lot of money buying unnecessary gaming gadgets. He contributed his share to the joint savings account but still had extra cash to spend on his little idiosyncrasies. After a little investigation, she learned Edwin had a pay raise four months ago and concealed it from her. 

April was livid. She had cut all her expenses and saved as much as possible for their goal. Meanwhile, her husband was committing financial infidelity in broad daylight. How could he? 

Also read: Hiding Money From Your Spouse - Is It Ever Okay? 

What is Financial Infidelity? 

Financial infidelity refers to the act of being deceptive and unfaithful about your finances to your partner. It is the act of hiding financial information such as income, debts, investments, etc., from your partner after combining your finances. 

The hidden information usually is something that can affect your budget and goals as a couple and something your partner must know about. 

What Causes Financial Infidelity 

Money is a sacred subject; whenever you talk about it to your partner, it's common to feel awkward and vulnerable. How you make and spend money can affect your pride and ego. It might make you more open about it or deceitful. And when in a relationship, it can fuel financial infidelity. 

Read Also: Money Conversations You Must Have With Your Partner

Let's look at the three leading causes of Financial infidelity: 

Addiction: This is a significant cause of compulsive spending. Whether you are addicted to gambling, drugs, alcohol or shopping, when you combine your finances with your partner, ensure you talk about your condition. You should discuss the possibility of investing in professional help and getting long-term support. Addiction is the leading cause of secret spending and can severely hurt your family's finances over time. 

Read Also: 5 Ways Addiction Causes Financial Trouble - Money Psychology

Shame: Your partner might feel uncomfortable earning less than you or has a less prestigious career. This can cause them to lie about how much they make and resort to taking loans to stay in the same bracket as you. In the end, it will become unsustainable and affect your relationship. 

Read Also: Money and Me: The Lie That Cost Me the Love of My Life

History: Your partner's previous financial history can force them to be dishonest about their current financial situation. They might have incurred a lot of debt they are still servicing or have other obligations like paying child support and alimony to an ex-partner. Since this can be a deal-breaker when you start dating, they can choose to hide it. 

Read Also: Yours, Mine, Ours? How Couples Can Manage Money 

Examples of Financial Infidelity 

Financial infidelity can exhibit itself in many forms. Some might be easy to catch, and others might fly below your nose. Either way, you should be alert for when it manifests so that you can address it before it goes out of control. 

Some of these examples can appear innocent and inconsequential. But when they happen very often, it might be time to act and find a solution. 

Here are examples of financial infidelity to be on the lookout for: 

  • Keeping a secret bank account (or any other savings vehicle)
  • Taking money from your joint saving account without telling you
  • Lying about how much they spent on something 
  • Lied or failed to disclose a debt they have taken
  • Gambled or lost money to other addictions and hobbies but kept quiet
  • Hiding receipts and purchases from you 
  • Failed to tell all their source of income when combining your finances 
  • Failed to let you know they received a raise or bonus at work
  • Hiding inheritance they've received from parents or grandparents 
  • Hiding some of their assets and investments 

How to Prevent Financial Infidelity 

To prevent you and your partner from committing financial infidelity or to heal and move past it after it occurs will require patience, learning, and high-level honesty. It will require you to develop a forgiving heart and work toward putting it all behind your backs. 

  1. Be in Constant Communication: talking about your finances often and reviewing your short-term and long-term goals can be of importance. You can use these money meetings to keep each other aware of all your new financial developments. 
  1. Strive for Transparency: You and your partner should work towards being open and honest about your finances as you are in other areas of your relationship. When you create room for honesty and don't judge your partner when they make mistakes, they will be more open to telling you when something is amiss. 
  1. Stick to Budget - A shared budget you can monitor will prevent anyone from committing financial dishonesty. You should also stick to the budget and set aside money for your future goals in a fixed savings account. 
  1. Have separate and joint accounts: You should consider opening a joint account for your shared monthly bills and goals like retirement and education funds for the children, but also separate accounts for your individual needs and goals. This will provide freedom to you, and everyone can be accountable for their money mistakes. 
  1. Seek financial help: Getting a financial advisor or enrolling in a financial literacy class can help you and your partner learn proper money management skills and prevent financial infidelity. 

Also read: Couple Goals: 3 Transitions That Challenge Working Partners

Effects of Financial Infidelity

Distrust - Infidelity can lead to loss of trust in a relationship, and financial infidelity is no exception. When your partner commits financial infidelity, you will find it hard to trust them to run the family's finances independently. Even after you've forgiven them, you might find yourself double-checking their spending and income every once in a while. 

Financial Losses - When you or your partner commits financial infidelity, your finances hurt the most. It might start slowly by emptying your emergency coffers and balloon to loss of assets like your home when you default on a loan if it was put up as collateral. It can also force you to declare bankruptcy, hurt your creditworthiness and possibly drive you to poverty. 

Confrontations - One financial infidelity incident can cause many conflicts when discussing anything related to finances. You might find yourself confronting your partner about every financial decision they make. 

Goals are derailed - Financial infidelity can severely affect your goals as a couple. You will be unable to meet your savings target on time, be forced to liquidate investments, etc. All this can lead to you cutting short your plans or delaying them. 

Divorce - As financial infidelity persists and trust is lost, if nothing is done to rectify the problem, it can lead to couples separating. 


Financial infidelity can show itself in many ways, and the damage it can cause in a relationship is unrivaled. While it is mostly harmless and easily rectified, you shouldn't ignore it when you see it. 

Having the money talk often with your partner, forgiving and rebuilding damaged trust can help salvage the situation and ensure you are back on the same page financially. But in the same breath, you should know when to walk away.

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Doris is a finance professional, freelance writer and SEO expert. She has experience helping businesses of all sizes create content that helps improve their site quality and increase their online traffic. She is a personal finance and wealth creation enthusiast and a frequent contributor to Money254. Visit Doris' personal website to learn more about her work.

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