Financial Infidelity


A type of cheating so subtle you may be straying without knowing it.

I thought about cheating on my husband while out mountain biking recently. As my friend sailed effortlessly down the rutted trail, my teeth chattered and my hands went numb. That’s when I hatched my plan to splurge on a cushy new bike—and hide it in our neighbor’s garage.

Why such sneakiness? You see, every woman has her downfall, be it new shoes, spa days, or in my case, skis, kayaks, and bikes. My husband is, understandably, a bit frustrated; my equipment threatens to keep his car out of our garage. The last time he agreed to a new bike, I had to resort to tears. But even pleading is healthier than deceiving, says one expert on the subject.

“There’s no such thing as an innocent financial fib,” says Bonnie Eaker Weil, PhD, a New York–based psychotherapist, whose book Financial Infidelity is due out next year. Whether you hide shopping bags, abominate price tags, or lie about how much you paid (or owe), you’re being financially unfaithful, she says. “The sign of a good relationship is that you can talk about anything that’s a hot topic,” she says. Simply put: If the two of you aren’t being honest about money, something isn’t right.

Why We Cheat
For some, the habit is a throwback to the days when women didn’t work, and men controlled the purse strings. “I learned everything from my mother,” quipped my friend Stephanie, who shops on her lunch hour to avoid scrutiny from her husband. During the first few years of her marriage, my friend Amanda regularly dipped into her “secret” savings account.

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