We were hours deep into the bachelor party and the man of the hour was pure fire with the dice. He and everyone else at the craps table were on hot streaks. Sixes hit. Eights, too. Bets were pressed. Chips stacked. When he rolled big, the crew erupted in cheers. It was exactly what a casino night send off should feel like.
But, the glow of camaraderie was instantly snuffed out when the bachelor, stack of chips mounted in front of him, turned to the party and warned us not to tell his soon-to-be-wife about the winnings. You could feel the circulated air get sucked out of the casino. The guy’s knee-jerk reaction to a jackpot was to hide it from the person with whom he would share his life.
It was the first time I’d seen someone consider what’s referred to as “financial infidelity”, the act of lying about purchases, bank accounts, or other such money matters with their partner. But, as I’d come to learn, it’s an all too common facet of modern marriages. We associate cheating with romance, but it’s just as common — and damaging — with finance.
Consider some numbers: Forty-two percent of respondents to a February 2016 Harris Poll admitted to committing some kind of financial infidelity, up from 33 percent in the previous poll. In a survey conducted by CreditCards.com, 12 million people admitted to having a credit card or bank account they keep secret from their spouse.
Paul Golden, a spokesperson for the National Endowment for Financial Education, the group behind the Harris Poll, said the number of admitted money cheaters has steadily ticked upwards in the eight years NEFE has run the poll. While he couldn’t say why the numbers are growing, Golden could say that a root cause was a widespread unwillingness to talk about money.
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