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What to do when your spouse lies about the household finances

A financial crisis is never an easy topic to discuss with your significant other, but it’s an issue that affects everyone in the household. If there’s one person you should feel comfortable discussing your finances with, it should be your partner, yet finding out your partner has been lying about your household finances damages that trust.

If you and/or your spouse are having trouble being upfront about your finances—and one or both of you have lied to each other about a joint financial crisis—here is some advice to help you both get on the same page, and be honest with each other moving forward.


Do stay calm and confront your spouse

If you believe your partner has been lying about your joint finances, encourage your spouse to come clean with all the details about the spending, savings, and debt situation. This may be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but the sooner you talk about it, the easier it will be to correct your financial situation and begin rebuilding trust.

Do be honest about your spending and debt

Lead by example and be honest with your spouse about spending habits and any debt. Even if you are not the “spender” of the relationship, there may be some things your spouse may not know regarding your financial history. It is only fair to come completely clean by going over your past as well. Once you explain and discuss financial expectations, you can start to move forward. Put together a plan of action to fix your financial predicament and create a better financial future for both of you.

Do work together as a team

You’ll both need to be on the same team if you want to improve your financial situation. Work with your spouse to have a common goal. Maybe you need to pay off the debt you have, or you feel financial counseling would help. Discuss whether it is in your best interest to take another job to help pay your bills faster instead of taking a chunk out of your current budget or savings. Figure out a game plan that you can both agree on, and get some extra help from a financial expert if you feel it could be the difference between financial success or failure.

Do create a new budget

This fresh start should encourage the both of you to sit down and examine your budget. Discuss what you both think is essential to the budget and what can be cut out. Be ready to make compromises. After a spouse lies about your joint finances, you might be inclined to take everything over yourself, but working together will help your spouse learn that you’re in it together and a healthy budget is worth the changes and compromises if it makes for an honest relationship. 


Do not keep secrets

The best way to keep one another in the financial loop is to keep the lines of communication open. The chances of one of you lying going forward will significantly decrease if you both put in your best effort to be open and honest with each other. Use this opportunity to discuss your financial plans, goals and decisions. The more conversations you have about your money the more trust and confidence you will build with each other and place your relationship on a more solid ground.

Do not go in blind

Educate yourself. Find books and articles on personal finance and money management to help you navigate your finances and get yourself back on track financially. Maybe even consider a consultation with a professional debt resolution about ways to improve your finances. 

Do not use credit cards

Or use them sparingly. Credit cards make it easy to overspend. Try to encourage your spouse to stick to a cash-only budget, which will help you stick to your goals and avoid overspending. 

Do not cheat

If you are encouraging your spouse to watch his/her spending habits, it’s only right that you stick to the rules, too. If you begin to splurge on things that are not in the household budget, or on any items that have not discussed, your plan may fall apart and cause animosity in your relationship.

Jumping cartoon

Talking about money problems can be frustrating and stressful, but lying about it and letting your finances go down the drain is far worse. Communicate with your partner about a realistic lifestyle that you can afford to have within your budget, and work together to bring your finances out of the hole. Once you’re both able to get back on your feet, continue to work together to achieve common financial goals—especially so a crisis like this never happens again.

More expert advice about Finance for Couples

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Leslie H. Tayne, Esq.President

Headquartered in Melville, N.Y. and led by financial attorney Leslie H. Tayne, Esq., The Law Offices of Leslie H. Tayne P.C. is the only New York State practice whose sole concentration is debt resolution and bankruptcy alternatives. Since its e...

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