The Non-Romantic Reality of Financial Abuse and Financial Infidelity

Exploring the harsh realities of relationships, our blog delves into the non-romantic aspects of financial abuse and financial infidelity. In this love month, we shed light on a crucial topic that impacts many. Whether you realize it or not, you likely know someone who has experienced these challenges. Join us as we dissect the definitions, signs, impacts, and preventive measures surrounding financial abuse and financial infidelity. Real-life examples and invaluable insights await as we navigate the complexities of financial dynamics in relationships.

We’re diving into financial abuse and financial infidelity this month.

Prepare to:

  • understand what financial abuse and infidelity is
  • signs to watch for
  • effects or impacts
  • and lastly how to prevent as much as possible with resources

Along with a few real life examples of clients that I have coached that have been victim of financial abuse and financial infidelity, as well as one of my own personal stories.

If you’ve been around here long enough you should know that all are welcome. We all have ‘stuff’ and it’s not my job (or anyone else’s for that matter) to pass judgment. We give and get a lot of grace around here, I hope that you will do the same.


Financial Abuse comes in a variety of forms and variations, here are a few with examples.

Financial Manipulation:
Definition: The exertion of influence or control over someone’s financial decisions for personal gain.
Examples: Forcing someone to sign financial documents, coercing them to make specific financial choices.

Economic Control:
Definition: Exercising dominance over a person’s financial resources, limiting their access to money or financial independence.
Examples: Restricting access to bank accounts, controlling the household budget without input.

Financial Coercion:
Definition: Using force or threats to make someone comply with specific financial demands.
Examples: Threatening to harm someone financially if they don’t follow certain instructions.

Money-Related Abuse:
Definition: Abusing someone through the use of money, often tied to emotional or psychological manipulation.
Examples: Using money to instill fear, guilt, or dependence.

When this recently graduated client came to me over a year ago she told me she didn’t know anything about how to handle money. She had been led to believe that she didn’t have a brain. Her husband handled all of the finances. Thankfully, she was able to remove herself from the situation and have enough faith to start anew. Her beautiful brain has her renting a wonderful two bedroom apartment, flourishing at work, traveling across continents to visit family, and investing heavily in her future. She’s embracing independence and the brain that God has given her. I BEAM when I think of just how far she’s come.

Financial Exploitation:
Definition: Unfair or improper use of someone’s financial resources for personal benefit.
Examples: Exploiting a person financially for personal gain, taking advantage of their financial vulnerability.

Financial Infidelity is far more common than you think, see the definitions and examples below.

Hidden Financial Transactions:
Definition: Engaging in undisclosed financial activities without a partner’s knowledge.
Examples: Making secret investments, hiding income, or engaging in undisclosed transactions.

Secret Accounts:
Definition: Maintaining financial accounts that are concealed from a partner.
Examples: Opening a secret bank account, credit card, or investment account.

Deceptive Financial Behavior:
Definition: Engaging in financial actions with the intention to deceive a partner.
Examples: Misrepresenting income, lying about expenses, or providing false financial information.

Concealed Spending:
Definition: Spending money without a partner’s knowledge or approval.
Examples: Making significant purchases without informing the partner, hiding receipts.

Financial Dishonesty:
Definition: Being untruthful about financial matters within a relationship.
Examples: Concealing debts, hiding financial windfalls, or lying about the source of money.

I was the victim of financial dishonesty in a prior relationship, with the wool pulled over my eyes related to where money was coming from, and where it was going. Even household items sold on craigslist were undisclosed and ‘missing’ from home going to unknown purchases.

Effects of Financial Abuse/Infidelity

It goes without saying that there is fallout from financial abuse and/or infidelity and often the impacts are far reaching.

  • Emotional impact can result in Anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, and low self-esteem.
  • Relationship strain is a given, right? Increased conflict, breakdown of trust, and potential for the deterioration of the relationship are all possible.
  • Legal consequences can include potential legal battles, financial liability, and consequences for the perpetrator.
  • Psychological tolls include PTSD, emotional trauma, and long-term psychological effects.
  • Impact on Children and Family can range from disruption of family stability, financial insecurity, and potential generational impact. None of which are ‘easy recoveries’.


This is serious stuff. I almost feel a little bad putting this all out there when I would typically have a ‘get to know me’ focused blog post during the month of my birth. But here’s the deal. I’m seeing this. I’ve had multiple conversations with others impacted by financial abuse or infidelity and it’s with your neighbor, your co-worker, and your sister-in-law. Real people that don’t wear a victim badge, or “look” the part – because there is no stereotype. 


Before you get upset at me and think that you’d NEVER do this, or allow such a thing to happen to you or to anyone around you – know that there are varying degrees of severity. May we compare it to cheating for a minute?

For most I think we’d say that a sexual and emotional affair would be the worst case scenario, flirting isn’t as serious – but often not grounds for divorce and ogling your non-partner is certainly frowned upon…but again, not likely getting you the boot. But honestly, none are really healthy for your relationship, right?

There are varying degrees, so that’s why we’re talking about this. Financial abuse or infidelity definitely has the ability to show up in your own household. Here’s what to look for.

Signs of Financial Abuse

Financial abuse and financial infidelity
  • Monitoring Spending Habits might look like constant scrutiny of every financial transaction, demanding receipts, questioning and criticizing spending decisions in an unhealthy way.
  • Controlling Access to Money – limiting access to bank accounts, controlling the use of credit cards, providing an inadequate allowance.
  • Withholding Financial Information may show up as keeping financial details a secret, refusing to share information about income, assets, or debts.
  • Sabotaging Employment or Income – actively preventing or undermining the victim’s efforts to work or earn money.
  • Creating Debt Deliberately look like taking on debt in the victim’s name without their knowledge or consent, sabotaging their credit, perhaps for that reason – or for personal gain.

This situation was one that my client found herself in – opening mail with a home equity loan application in her own name, that she had never taken out. That was one of the red flags that led to her divorce later. As a single parent she had to navigate what healthy financial boundaries and management looked like. You’ll be pleased to hear that she’s doing wonderfully now.

Clearly we’re looking to prevent any and all types of financial abuse and infidelity. Here are our best next steps.

Preventing Financial Abuse/Infidelity

Open Communication About Finances: Regularly discussing financial goals, sharing information about income, debts, and expenses. Yes, please! Couples doing money together is ideal.

Joint Financial Planning: This is just taking that open communication to the next level; collaboratively creating and following a financial plan, setting shared financial goals.

Establishing Financial Boundaries: Clearly defining financial responsibilities and limits, respecting each other’s financial autonomy – not being the boss over everything, but creating boundaries and freedom.

Seeking Professional Help: Consulting financial coaches, advisors, therapists, or counselors to navigate financial challenges. It’s okay to get support – proactively is the best course of action.

Building Financial Trust: Fostering an environment of trust, transparency, and accountability in financial matters. Truly making money a safe space for discussion. 

I’m a big advocate for financial literacy – learning about what we need to know about finances, where there are no dumb questions and we get this information into the hands of anyone and everyone – especially teens and young adults early on.

If you are a victim of financial abuse or infidelity you are not alone. There is no shame in getting the support that you need.

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE
You are always welcome to reach out to me as well. [email protected]

Sarah is a Ramsey Preferred Coach
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