Is it ever OK to lie to your partner about money?

Relationships and money. It’s fair to say it’s never easy but the reality is it can be incredibly destructive as well.

At one end of the scale we’d all be guilty of buying ourselves a little treat which we’ve not admitted to our partner out of guilt or not wanting to start an argument. But when it gets to a stage where you’re telling big lies, which amounts to basically defrauding your partner, then the whole fabric and foundation of your relationship is in jeopardy.

Over the years we’ve seen them all as people have contacted us for guidance. Would you believe 15 per cent of middle aged Australians lie to their partner about their salary and a surprising number of people keep a secret stash of money in case of divorce. These are the top money lies which have been revealed to us and we believe have the potential to destroy your relationship.

Lying about your job… or not having one

Employment is generally the primary income source of most relationships. It’s the foundation on which you develop your household budget, plan your dreams around and build your goals as a couple.

The lies can start from exaggerating your income to pretending you’re worth more than you are, to understating your salary and skimming off the excess to a secret account. Either way you’re deceiving your partner and it’s serious.

The saddest lie we’ve seen in this area is when a partner is retrenched or fired and they’re too scared, or embarrassed, to tell their partner. They then lead a fictional life of pretending to go to work and living with that emotional burden. It melts your heart.

In every one of these types of cases we’ve encountered the other partner is generally so understanding and distressed their spouse didn’t trust them to be supportive.

Lying about being financial equals

This is a very dangerous lie. Where one partner takes full control of the household finances, jealously guards that position of power and constantly argues everything is under control, it’s the best thing for the relationship and they would never do anything to hurt them.

But they are lying. They aren’t doing it in the best interest of both of you, only in the best interests of themselves. As a means of power and controlling you.

Don’t fall for it. And don’t get sucked in by an indignant “don’t you trust me”. Frankly, if they give you that line then you know you shouldn’t trust them. When it comes to money in a relationship, it has to be completely transparent and equal.

Lying about having a punt or making a secret investment

Yes that little online betting account you keep to yourself. “But it’s so small it’s not worth talking about,” we hear you say. Well, if it’s not that significant you won’t mind sharing it with your partner!

The problem comes when that little online account has a losing streak and you need to feed it cash by stealth. Losses can build on losses to a point it becomes significant and an embarrassing secret which will cause huge ructions. The same goes for that risky investment you kept hidden and it goes sour. The risk simply isn’t worth it.

Lying about paying your share of the bills on time

In our household, Libby looks after the household expenses and David pays the mortgage and superannuation. A lot of couples split expenses on the understanding that you trust each other all commitments will be paid on time. When they’re not, be honest and work together on a plan to get back on track.


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Lying about how you earn money

It might be moonlighting at a second job or freelancing on the side. Either way lying about where the money comes from has two problems no matter what form the lie takes.

Firstly, it leaves your partner unable to correctly estimate how much money there should be, and unable to notice any missing cash. Secondly, it can make a real mess of your taxes and any government benefits which are based on total household income. As for earning money secretly AND illegally… that is a lie which can have dire consequences.

Lying about your level of debt

Alarmingly statistics compiled from Galaxy Research reveal 52 per cent of Australians either lie about their debts or hide their spending from those close to them.

Money you put toward paying off debt is money that can’t be used elsewhere, for you or your partner. Debt lies can range from whether you have any, to how much, to how long you have to pay, to whether you’re making the payments regularly.

The harsh reality is that as a couple you can, in many circumstances, inherit someone else’s debt. If they skip out of the relationship, you could be left holding the responsibility for paying. It’s called Sexually Transmitted Debt. Secret debt can also be a telling insight into how your partner handles money and whether they have the right financial discipline.

Lying about loaning money to friends and family

The sob story is always compelling, and you’ve known them all your life, but lending to friends and family can be fraught with danger. Especially if you keep it secret from your partner and, especially, if it isn’t their friend or family.

The problem with lying about loaning money without your partner’s go-ahead is pretty basic.

Lying about having bank accounts your spouse didn’t or doesn’t know about

A lot of couples have separate bank accounts for a whole range of reasons… and that’s fine. But having a secret bank account isn’t about independence or having a stash to buy gifts for each other. It’s lying and it’s deceptive. Have separate bank accounts if you want but be open with each other about them.