A THIRD of married people are guilty of 'financial infidelity'

A THIRD of married people are guilty of ‘financial infidelity’ and hide self-indulgent purchases from their partner by using cash and getting items delivered in plain packaging

  • Study looked at the bank accounts of married couples and tracked spending 
  • Found one in three use tactics to hide self-indulgent buys from their partner 
  • Include using plain packaging, using cash and shopping at large shops to bury the item in a generic-looking receipt  

Modern relationships face many issues and a new report has added another problem to the list – financial infidelity.  

It found that a third of people are dishonest when it comes to their spending habits and lie to their partner about what they are buying and how often they are buying it. 

The guilty parties often use cash, opt for an individual bank card and have a joint account to help hide their paper trail.  

Getting items delivered in plain brown boxes and burying unnecessary expenditure within the receipt from a large supermarket or department store are also ways they hide in plain sight.   

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Modern relationships face many issues and a new report has added another problem to the list – financial infidelity. It found that a third of people are dishonest when it comes to their spending habits (stock)

Professor of marketing at Boston College Hristina Nikolova led a study which found retailers are playing up to these people and squeezing them for every penny in the run up to Christmas. 

Keeping purchases, either individual indulgences or surprise gifts, a secret is a key motivator for shoppers in the festive period. 

The researchers say that offering this ability to shoppers in order to secure their patronage may lead to firms adjusting traditional marketing approaches to aid secretive shoppers. 

‘We are entering the biggest holiday shopping season and there are very simple things that retailers can do to boost their sales, such as offering inconspicuous packaging without a brand name or the ability to pay with cash,’ Professor Nikolova said. 

‘Our research suggests that these options should appeal to consumers who are prone to engage in financial infidelity. 

Researchers define financial infidelity as ‘engaging in any financial behaviour expected to be disapproved of by one’s romantic partner and intentionally failing to disclose the behavior.’

It includes secretive purchases such as using cash; keeping a personal rather than a joint credit card; choosing concealing packaging; and shopping at generic rather than speciality stores.

Masking spending, shielding accounts, shipping in plain brown boxes, and burying an indulgent expenditure within the receipt from a big-box store are just some of the lengths to which people will go to avoid leaving a trail of illicit spending, according to a report.

To combat the financial infidelity, experts say it is important to communicate well. 

Being on the same page with both joint and individual goals are important, as is budgeting for occasional indulgences. 

‘Retailers should recognise that such shoppers do exist and they will probably sneak an expensive coat or a massage amidst the gift shopping they will do.’ 

Financial infidelity was defined by researchers as  ‘engaging in any financial behaviour expected to be disapproved of by one’s romantic partner and intentionally failing to disclose the behaviour.’

The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, say understanding what motivates people to lie to their other half about their purchasing patterns is key as finances are often seen as a ‘deal-breaker’. 

Consumer financial infidelity proneness was measured using what the researchers call the Financial Infidelity (FI) Scale.

It takes into consideration bank account data as well as a range of field and lab based tests and found those with a higher FI were more likely to be untruthful about transactions hide their accounts. 

Sexual infidelity has received a lot of attention in scientific literature,but financial infidelity is an unexplored dynamic of modern relationships.    

‘The lack of research on financial infidelity is surprising because financial infidelity is very common among couples,’ said Professor Nikolova.

Financial deviance is a major problem for relationships, with three quarters of married people saying it negatively impacts their relationship, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education. 

‘A few things that couples can do to prevent financial infidelity is to talk more, get on the same page regarding both joint and individual goals they might have, and also budget for some occasional indulgences along the way of achieving their long-term financial goals,’ Professor Nikolova said. 

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