Is It Ever Okay To Lie To Your Spouse About Money?

laura grace tarpley wedding pic

[Hey guys! Another Friday, another great post by a fine blogger out there! Up today is nomad friend of mine, Laura Grace Tarpley, who blogs about travel hacking over at and shares her experience lying/not lying to her husband 😉 Perhaps you have found yourself in this situation as well over the years? Let us know how you cope with it in the comments!]


Should I lie to my husband?

Whenever faced with this question in the past, the answer was always a clear “no.”

But what if it’s for his own good?

Do you ever have this internal crisis? When you know you shouldn’t lie to your spouse, but if it’ll benefit them in the long run you feel like it’s maybe okay?

In my case, the temptation to lie came from a simple cultural norm: setting a budget.

I started thinking about revamping my budget around the end of December as New Years was approaching. My love for NY’s could be attributed to the fact that I am straight-up addicted to making goals and bettering myself, and I love having an excuse to make resolutions.

I suffer from serious anxiety, and despite the medication I’m taking, the best way for me to reduce stress is to make daily, weekly, monthly, and annual to-do lists. The glee that comes from checking something off my to-do list is indescribable.

In 2018, I wanted to focus on the financial aspect of my life. My husband and I have moved around a lot since 2014, but we have recently settled in a town where we’ll reside for at least the next two years. Our incomes and expenses are pretty stable, so I would love for our financial lives to be stable, too.

Although I hadn’t made any firm decisions, I considered some areas to focus on before bringing up the topic to my husband. I wanted to set a goal for how much we would put into our savings account this year. I was hoping to increase our IRA contributions as well, even if only slightly.

I was excited to discuss these topics with him and plan our year, setting ourselves up for financial success! Once we agreed to take a few minutes to discuss our finances for 2018, here’s how the conversation went:

Me: “How much do you want to save for retirement each month?”

Him: “Well, we aren’t making more this year than we did last year. So we should probably just keep it the same for now.”

Me: “Okay… Do you want to set a savings goal for 2018?”

Him: “Not really. We are in good shape as far as our savings go. I think as long as we keep actively putting money into it, we’re good.”

Me: “Okay… Wow, look at that pretty tree.”

And that was it.

My husband and I are surprisingly similar in many areas of our lives. We both love eating weird food, watching Twin Peaks, traveling, and cuddling with our corgi puppy, Tuna.

But in one major area, we are vastly different. While I have anxiety problems, he most certainly does not. In fact, he has ADHD. As a result, he is very much a “fly by the seat of your pants” type of guy. Too much planning stresses him out, so he just goes with the flow. The downside of this ADHD is that he has trouble focusing on any one thing at a time, or sitting down to get something accomplished without getting distracted by something shiny.

So here we are, two people with hormonal imbalances that have the complete opposite effect on each other. And we have to live together.

In many ways, these differences help us balance each other out. But when it comes to a matter that is really important to only one of us, like my desire to set financial goals, the other one simply can’t relate. We tend to have trouble understanding one another’s needs.

For this reason, I was seriously debating lying to my husband. Well, maybe not lying, per se. Just withholding information from him.

What if I just increased my monthly automatic IRA contribution a smidgen? Would he notice? Just five dollars a month could make all the difference since we’re 25 and have plenty of time for compound interest to kick in. And it would probably eliminate a fight too, while at the same time giving us a little more money to our names.

Besides, if I die, my retirement savings are legally his anyways as he’s my beneficiary! Therefore, increasing my contribution can only help him too!

And what if I set a goal for how much extra savings I want to add into our account as well for the year? If we don’t set a goal or automate anything, we might just forget to do it at all. Then when we go to buy a house in a couple of years we’ll be kicking ourselves for not having anything extra saved. I could set up an annual goal for us within minutes, and then auto-deposit a certain amount every month.

As a freelance writer and independent contractor teaching English as a second language, my income varies monthly. My husband wouldn’t even notice any discrepancy between what I earn and what goes into our checking account.

But I know, I know… Lying is bad! Communicating poorly in a marriage is also bad, especially when it’s done deliberately. But I did it anyways…

Over the past couple months, I’ve gradually, secretly, been putting a little cash at a time into a shoebox of mine in our apartment. I call it the “Travel Shoebox.”

We’re taking a four-day trip to Maine next month, and while we’ve already paid for our plane tickets and accommodations, spending money on unnecessary items and experiences while traveling really stresses my husband out. So I wanted to surprise him with a little extra money that I’d been setting aside specifically for our trip. This way, he wouldn’t have to worry about spending any of this “fun money.”

I finally fessed up a couple of days ago, and when I told him that I’d already accumulated $130 in this shoebox he was thrilled! I told him it wasn’t much, but at least enough for us to enjoy some delicious, buttery lobster and a few drinks, if nothing else.

When he asked where this money came from, I told him I had secretly been stashing some it away and he just laughed jovially. He wasn’t upset at all. Of course he wasn’t! I hadn’t done this with the intention of lying, I had done it with the intention of surprising him.

This experience has made me consider “surprising him” again at the end of 2018. Except, let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be for him. It would be for me.

I mean, it would benefit both of us financially, but it would be more for my own peace of mind. This is the power that comes with being the one who handles the finances in the family. I deal with the details and then update him occasionally with the bigger picture. As a result, I am able to kind of do whatever I want.

It’s not like I’m racking up credit card debt or gambling away our money. I’m just trying to make us more financially secure, you know?

And again – these little white lies work in his favor. If I have more in my retirement savings, it would greatly benefit him when we are both 70 years old. What’s mine is his. We share everything, including our money. If I vow to put a certain amount into our savings account, well, he would have a more stable portfolio! We could even make a larger down payment on a house in 2020.

But here’s the reason I’m hesitant.

Lying to my husband, no matter how sensible and well-meaning my intentions might be, is basically saying, “Hey. I know we both have our hormone imbalances, but my imbalance is more important than your imbalance.”

My anxiety wins out. My obsession with making resolutions, goals, and lists also wins. His fun, go-with-the-flow attitude loses. It’s basically saying that I’m more valuable than he is.

I just don’t know if I can justify it at the end of the day. It might also mean actually having to do something much more difficult than long-term savings or planning – it might mean starting a conversation about our finances that could lead to a fight!

But you know what? I went for it.

After a lot of deliberation, I was compelled to approach my husband and just lay it all out on the table. I asked if he was okay with me putting away more money into my IRA than he was, and I also asked if he minded if I set a savings goal for us in 2018.

The conversation ended like this:

Him: “Of course I don’t mind. Thank you for asking me first.”

Me: “I think I’d like to put [insert amount here] into savings in 2018.”

Him: “Okay.”

Me: “What do you think, more or less? Or do you not care?”

Him: “I don’t care.” [Goes back to playing computer games]

And that’s why I should never lie to my husband! As someone with ADHD, he can easily adjust his mindset at the drop of a hat if he so chooses. Life’s sudden changes are never a big deal to him. I on the other hand with all my anxiety, build things up into huge decisions and then nervously anticipate a fight.

But as this whole ordeal shows, talking things through can make all the difference in the world. And what might turn into a fight the longer something’s hidden, could all be avoided by just throwing it out there and respecting each other’s worth.

The above conversation probably took less than five minutes, and then just like that it was over. But more importantly, at the end of it we were finally on the same page!

Laura Grace Tarpley is a nomad and freelance writer who runs the blog Let’s Go Tarpley!, where she shares tips about budget travel and moving abroad. In her free time, she tinkers with crossword puzzles and plays with her corgi puppy, Tuna. You can follow her on Twitter @lgtarpley.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: As someone with ADHD myself, I totally relate to the husband here 😉 I’m so much easier to work with going with the flow than trying to plan out my life years/months/weeks into the future, haha… So I’m glad you figured it out early in your relationship, Laura Grace! It’ll make things sooo much smoother in the future for sure… And you also can know that if we ever get sad or mad or jealous or anything, that THAT only lasts but a handful of seconds too until we move right on to the next emotion that captures our attention 😉 So yay all around! (Although I am curious how people of the *same* mentality and hormones handles this type of stuff in relationships? Like, if you were BOTH $$$ lovers/ planners or both ADHD – how does that work? I feel like it’s kinda nice to be opposite for easier division of responsibilities and better balancing so you don’t get too hardcore one way or the other, but I’ve also never been in one of these relationships before, haha… Anyone care to chime in and share?)]

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