Financial Infidelity and Its Dirty Little Purchases

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Things really begin to change for the couple when their young son became an accomplice. "We had a conversation about how we're spoiling our child and he can't feel entitled to get a toy," Woodard says, "but I waited so long to have him, I wasn't going to deny him if he wanted something."

When Woodard purchased the youngster a toy, she removed all the packaging in the car before bringing the item into the house, and told her son, "Don't tell daddy."

Shortly after, the 3-year-old presented the packaging left behind in the car to his father. Her husband's response: If she's going to lie, at least hide the packaging.

The discussion put Woodard on track to being more monetarily faithful. "You try to teach children right from wrong," she says. "I felt horrible telling my son he should lie.

"There's nothing my husband and I can't talk about. He's not going to scream and yell at me."

Beck of the National Endowment for Financial Education says, "Couples should talk openly about money, and do so early in the relationship. Each person should understand their partner's values about money."

When Tyrone Mitchell of Bridgeport, Conn., purchased an Amazon Kindle, he says his wife was surprised but there was no deception involved. "I don't think she was terribly thrilled because I didn't mention I was interested in the device," Mitchell says of his impulse buy.

Overcoming Financial Infidelity

Mitchell and his wife of six years each have their own bank accounts and an account where funds co-mingle. "I think everyone should have their own account and a joint account," Mitchell says.

"As an adult, you're use to having you own money. If the bills are being paid and there are no surprises, I think it's actually healthy."

For Woodard and her husband to get to their healthy state, she began curbing her attraction for minor household items after a layoff.

"I feel blessed that I'm married to him," she says. "He could be kicking me to the curb right now with my lamps."

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