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Why we lie about money and how to solve the problem

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By Jean Chatzky

How many times have you lied to your partner about money? Turns out 15 million of us are currently hiding a credit card or bank account from our significant other, according to a study from CreditCards.com. That’s despite the fact that a third of us think that financial infidelities are worse than cheating physically. But what constitutes a financial infidelity, really? When does a financial fib — or lie through omission — become sometime more sinister, something toxic and potentially relationship-destroying? And is the complete truth the only option for keeping your relationship strong?

The Most Toxic Lies

At its most basic level, a financial infidelity is an outright lie about money or spending, but in terms of how toxic these things can be to a relationship, Jill Fopiano, CEO of O’Brien Wealth Partners and certified financial planner, says you have to look at the intent. Is it malicious? “I’ve heard stories of people taking their income and funneling it into a separate account, and then using their spouse’s income to pay all the household bills until they’re ready to end the marriage. That is extreme malicious intent,” Fopiano says. Other examples of toxic financial infidelity could include a hidden gambling addiction, or a partner who withholds money to satisfy a desire for power or control.

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