8 Red Flags Your Partner Isn’t Being (Financially) Faithful


Of course, if your partner pulls a Kristen Stewart or a Tiger Woods, it’s a clear breach of trust. But there’s another kind of cheating that can be just as devastating to a relationship.

A recent survey explored financial infidelity, which unearthed surprising revelations: 15 million people with live-in partners admit to being financially unfaithful, with an additional nine million saying they had been in the past. The consequences can be disastrous. Thirty-one percent said they felt hiding a credit card or bank account from a significant other is worse than physical cheating.

Since the signs of financial infidelity aren’t always obvious, we talked to experts about the top red flags to look out for.

1. They sidestep money conversations.

Let’s say you notice your honey sprung for a new speaker system or bought an over-the-top wedding present—but when you ask what it cost, he (or she) blows you off, gives a vague answer or segues into a debrief of the Eagles’ big win.

“This behavior usually reflects a desire to avoid conflict,” explains Certified Financial Planner Brad Klontz, PsyD, founder of the Financial Psychology Institute. “They might be hiding a money disorder like chronic overspending or giving too much to others.”

2. They’re anxious or temperamental.

Whether someone’s lying about the last time they texted their ex or how much they’re spending, moods can be indicators that something’s off. If your partner shows signs of stress—particularly, but not necessarily exclusively, when you talk dollars and cents—and you can’t pinpoint what’s wrong, that’s a clue, Klontz says.

3. They’re in charge of your joint finances...

And they’re resistant to your participation. Or they want to assume more control over money matters than usual. According to Klontz, any effort to cut you out of financial issues begs further investigation.

4. You haven’t set a budget.

Financial infidelity isn’t always intentional. “If couples don’t have an explicit agreement around how much is okay to spend, one person can feel betrayed when the other spends a lot—even though it wasn’t purposeful deception,” Klontz says. To avoid miscommunication, consult one another before making any purchase over an agreed-upon amount.

Related: Yes, I’m Married and Still Have an Allowance

5. Unfamiliar tax forms arrive in the mail.

When someone has a secret bank account or investments, chances are they’ll set up everything online, rather than having paper statements mailed, according to Certified Public Accountant Robert Nemeth of Apple Growth Partners in Ohio. But many tax documents are still delivered old school. Now is the time to keep your eyes peeled for 1099 forms from banks you weren’t aware your partner was affiliated with.

6. There’s an increase in ATM withdrawals.

It may seem obvious, but Nemeth says this is the most common financial infidelity giveaway: “Taking out an extra $200 a week, for instance, is an easy way to shore up cash without the other person noticing,” he says. “It slips through the cracks, but quickly adds up.”

An uptick in credit card activity (or cash advances on a credit card) is another seeming no-brainer that happens all the time, especially if your partner pays the bills. “The data is typically there as plain as day; people just don’t look,” Nemeth says.

7. Promotional material from a new bank arrives.

After someone opens an online bank or investment account, the institution typically begins sending an influx of credit card applications and other offers. “An increase in activity from one particular bank could indicate deception,” Nemeth says.

8. Banks or income you don’t recognize are listed on your tax returns.

If you’re not the one preparing your tax return, review it carefully to see if there’s money coming in from a source you don’t know about.

Pay particular attention here: “Schedule B lists all the interest and dividend income, as well as the name of the institution paying it,” Nemeth says. “Schedule D indicates any sales of investments.” For example, if you see that stocks were liquidated for $5,000, but don’t recall discussing it, it could be a sign of behind-the-scenes sketchiness.

Aside from not signing the tax return until you’re on the same page, this is your chance to have a frank conversation about what’s been going on—and how you can be on the same page moving forward.

Related: Is Honesty the Best Policy When It Comes to Money and Marriage?

acorns+cnbcacorns cnbc

Join Acorns


About Us

Learn More

Follow Us

All investments involve risk, including loss of principal. The contents presented herein are provided for general investment education and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any specific securities or engage in any particular investment strategy. Acorns is not engaged in rendering any tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for this type of advice.

Any references to past performance, regarding financial markets or otherwise, do not indicate or guarantee future results. Forward-looking statements, including without limitations investment outcomes and projections, are hypothetical and educational in nature. The results of any hypothetical projections can and may differ from actual investment results had the strategies been deployed in actual securities accounts. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

Advisory services offered by Acorns Advisers, LLC (“Acorns Advisers”), an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Brokerage and custody services are provided to clients of Acorns Advisers by Acorns Securities, LLC (“Acorns Securities”), a broker-dealer registered with the SEC and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”). Acorns Pay, LLC (“Acorns Pay”) manages Acorns’s demand deposit and other banking products in partnership with Lincoln Savings Bank, a bank chartered under the laws of Iowa and member FDIC. Acorns Advisers, Acorns Securities, and Acorns Pay are subsidiaries of Acorns Grow Incorporated (collectively “Acorns”). “Acorns,” the Acorns logo and “Invest the Change” are registered trademarks of Acorns Grow Incorporated. Copyright © 2021 Acorns and/or its affiliates.

NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns Grow Incorporated.