Little Green Money Lies You Tell Yourself and Others

True, we’re all guilty of the occasional financial ruse. Whether it’s hiding a shopping bag in the closet before your spouse notices, or not telling a friend that your parents own your apartment. On occasion, we choose to conceal the entire truth about our finances.

What motivates us to conceal certain aspects of our financial lives?

In most cases, we have good intentions. We want to keep our relationships harmonious, and we are afraid that if the other person knew the truth about what we spent, how much we earn, or what we owe, their opinion of us would change, but when is a little green lie not a little green lie?

First, it depends on whom you’re deceiving. The closer the relationship, the more likely any untruth or intentional omission will cause harm. Sure, a hidden shopping bag may not seem like a big deal, but consider this: why do I feel I can’t be honest about this?

Maybe you’re doing something that you and your partner agreed wasn’t in your budget, or you’re using shopping to deal with feelings that could be dealt with more constructively. It’s possible that you’re angry at your partner and want to lash out while avoiding an open argument.

These lies and omissions can sometimes reach the level of a major betrayal. The following are five transgressions that should be regarded as serious breaches of trust between financially connected partners.

Opening a new credit account or obtaining a loan without first informing your spouse. Keeping large sums of money hidden. Using your partner’s accounts or obtaining credit in his or her name, failing to manage joint accounts in the manner agreed upon, or failing to make payments on joint expenses without informing your partner.

Giving or lending money to a friend or family member without first getting permission from your partner. Again, this could all be done inadvertently or even lovingly.

When one couple I worked with was struggling to pay their bills, the husband took out personal loans. He didn’t tell his wife because he didn’t want her to be concerned, but her surprise when she found out made an already difficult situation even worse.

These are sometimes referred to as financial infidelity, and they are never acceptable. When we connect our money to another person, we connect our lives. Sometimes it appears that hiding a shopping bag is a minor inconvenience that allows us to avoid a fight, but it is actually a statement of distrust. “I don’t feel like I can trust you” to accept what I did, it says. “I don’t believe you’ll accept me.”

Financial intimacy can be difficult, but laying the groundwork for more authentic and honest financial life partnerships should reduce the need for those little green lies.

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