Financial infidelity: Why it happens, and how to recover

Craig Torr of Crue Invest says communication is key to avoiding and recovering from financial cheating.

BOITUMELO NTSOKO: Welcome to the Money Savvy Podcast, I’m Boitumelo Ntsoko. We’ve heard of people cheating on their partners. But did you know a partner can also be financially unfaithful?

According to a recent survey, 32% of respondents who are in serious relationships admitted to spending more than their partners would be okay with, while 15% admitted to holding secret debt. Gen Zers at 61% and millennials at 48% were the biggest financial cheats. So why do people financially cheat? And is there a way to avoid finding yourself in this situation?

Craig Torr, who is a certified financial planner at Crue invest, joins us on this episode to delve deeper into financial infidelity. Welcome, Craig.

CRAIG TORR: Hi Tumi, thank you very much for hosting me on the show.

BOITUMELO NTSOKO: Could you please explain to us what exactly is financial infidelity?

CRAIG TORR: Look, it’s basically where a partner is spending in secret or keeping financial information away from their partner or spouse. So yeah, just really sort of secretive behaviour, essentially, tantamount to cheating on your joint finances, essentially.

BOITUMELO NTSOKO: And what are some of the reasons people engage in this behaviour?

CRAIG TORR: Ja, so it could be a bit of selfishness. Or it could be that they want to make a purchase that they feel is going to make them feel better about themselves. But they’re just conscious of the sort of potential fallout that they could have with a spouse, with the spouse maybe not having that particular expense as a priority. You know, it typically comes from not communicating or not communicating well and having a shared sort of view of how one’s finances or [a] couple’s finances should be prioritised.

BOITUMELO NTSOKO: If I’m a partner, and I want to look out for signs of financial infidelity, what should I be on the lookout for?

CRAIG TORR: I think any sort of secretive behaviour. You know, if you’re in a partnership or relationship, one would expect that there’s openness and sharing of financial situations and goal setting and dreaming. So, you know, [it’s] very difficult to have those conversations if you are not on the same page and very difficult to build towards a common goal, if you [are] not sharing that view, that long term view. So yeah, I guess it comes [down] to communicating and having a plan and agreeing on what that plan is. But yeah, all about communication.

BOITUMELO NTSOKO: And how can a couple recover once a partner’s financial infidelity has been discovered?

CRAIG TORR: I think that is tricky. But it can be rectified, again, through openness and transparency. That’s the surest way to build trust. You know, it’s not that different from having an affair. I guess, you can bounce back from it, provided there’s very open communication and the behaviour is with a joint view, in light, at the end of the day.

BOITUMELO NTSOKO: Would then meeting with a financial planner, or a debt counsellor be some of the steps that people can take?

CRAIG TORR: Yeah, absolutely. And I’ll probably speak more from a financial planning perspective. You know, we certainly experience fantastic results with couples that have a joint vision and a joint plan. And they’ve, you know, co-created that plan with our guidance and our help. And we find that it’s very much easier for them to stick to that plan and account for, you know, the expenditure and they partner with that end goal in mind when it comes to a joint plan. That’s certainly one of the ways of ensuring that you can protect yourself against that going forward. Regarding debt counselling, I’m absolutely certain that that would be needed if the problem was that dire. And again, it would be a partnership in terms of getting out of that debt most certainly.

BOITUMELO NTSOKO: And are there ways one can protect themselves against being a victim of financial infidelity?

CRAIG TORR: Yeah, I’m probably sounding a bit like a stuck record, but it would be having those open transparent conversations and making sure that your goals and dreams are at least aligned or accepted by the other person.

You know, any sort of financial planning exercise is very much a team effort. It’s quite difficult to do individual plans in a relationship because, at the end of the day, it’s a shared responsibility.

Even if one person’s earning more than the other, it’s about a shared value system and a shared savings plan and a shared sort of set of expenditure. So most certainly, the planning would be an important part of this whole process.

BOITUMELO NTSOKO: Thank you so much, Craig. That was Craig Torr, who is a certified financial planner at Crue Invest.


Craig Torr

Crue Invest (Pty) Ltd



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