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Your body or your cash: 1 in 5 Australians say money cheats are worse than adulterers

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Many Australians believe financial infidelity is a worse offence than adultery in a relationship, according to new research by Finder.

A Finder survey of 1,096 respondents revealed 1 in 5 Australians (21%) – equivalent to 4.2 million people – think lying to your partner about finances is worse than physically cheating.

Baby boomers (23%) are most concerned with financial fibs in a relationship, compared to 22% of millennials, 21% of gen X, and 18% of gen Z.

Sarah Megginson, personal finance expert at Finder, said financial secrets in a partnership can have major consequences.

"Purposefully hiding information about money is a major red flag in relationships, especially when couples share finances.

"Financial lies can be quite destructive and leave people feeling betrayed and untrusting. As our research shows, it can cause even more pain than a romantic affair."

Megginson said there can be a number of motives for lying about money.

"For some people, the motivation to be dishonest is born out of embarrassment over a secret debt or an addiction that's gotten out of control.

"For others, it's less about shame, and more about wanting to be prepared with a financial safety net in the event the relationship ends poorly, so they might have a 'secret' account they haven't told you about."

Finder's research found 79% of Australians – equivalent to 16 million people – say that having an affair is worse than being dishonest about your finances.

Megginson encouraged Aussies to have open and honest conversations with their partner as often as possible.

"If you're hiding something, consider coming clean sooner than later. The longer it goes on, the bigger the problem can grow and the more elaborate your lies are likely to become.

"Conversations about money are often difficult but they're important to have.

"Financial trust is really crucial in a relationship, so it's ideal if you can talk openly about money and get on the same page, and ideally support each other to reach financial goals together.

"If you feel like you are being taken advantage of or if you can't leave a relationship because of financial issues, contact the National Debt Helpline," Megginson said.

Which do you think is worse in a relationship: financial infidelity or physically cheating?
Financial infidelity (i.e. not being honest with your partner about income or spending)21%
Physically cheating (i.e. having an affair)79%
Source: Finder survey of 1,096 respondents, January 2024Picture

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