6 October 20235 minute read

Financial Infidelity Report 2023: Why People Hide Purchases From Partners


Cohabiting couples are hiding purchases from each other, with some believing secret spending is cheating.

Key takeaways

  • 64% of people living together hid a purchase from their partner in the last year.
  • On average, secret spenders spend $475 behind their partners’ backs.
  • Over 1 in 4 hide clothing purchases from their partners.
  • 1 in 4 Americans cohabiting with a partner believes that hidden financial behaviors or spending constitute relationship cheating. 
  • Nearly 1 in 10 Americans said their partner’s secret spending would hurt more than an emotional affair.
  • 1 in 10 secret spenders admit hiding purchases has negatively impacted their sex life.
  • The most common ways people living with their partners hide spending is by hiding/destroying packaging (35%), clearing browser history (22%), and deleting emails (18%).
  • Nearly 1 in 10 secret spenders have altered or manipulated financial records to hide their spending.

Unveiling financial secrets in relationships

Secret spending in relationships can sow seeds of doubt, leading to the unsettling realm of financial infidelity. To further explore this hidden world, we surveyed 1,049 Americans in committed relationships who cohabitate with their partners.

We dove deep into the who, what, and why of concealed purchases, unraveling the intricate web of secrecy in spending habits among couples.

From gauging how people equate financial infidelity with other forms of betrayal to examining the lengths they would go to keep their spending under wraps, our study offers a comprehensive look at the impact of covert purchases on relationships.

Hiding purchases from loved ones

Have you ever been curious about the silent strains secret spending might place on your relationship? Let’s unravel the mysteries behind concealed purchases and their ripple effects on romantic ties.

secrets behind hidden purchases

Secret spending is more common than one might think: a surprising 64% of people living with their partner had kept a purchase secret in the last year. While secret spending happens across generations, baby boomers can rest easier than others; they were the generation most likely to be transparent about their expenditures.

So why do people feel compelled to hide what they buy? The top answer was to avoid feeling judged or criticized for their spending habits.

Feeling guilty for giving in to impulse buying and feeling like the purchase was too insignificant to talk about were the next most common reasons for keeping purchases to themselves. Secret spenders were most likely to hide new apparel, as more than one in four said they sneak clothing items past their partners.

On average, all undercover expenses amounted to $475 per person in the last year.

And while men’s concealed costs averaged higher than women’s ($545 vs. $410), women carried more guilty feelings. Female respondents were 15% more likely than male participants to feel remorseful about their hidden buys.

Shockingly, men were 83% more likely than women to feel excited about hiding purchases from their loved ones, highlighting how being secretive gives them a thrill.

We also found that these secret spending behaviors caused more than financial repercussions. A significant 43% of those whose partners caught them hiding purchases confessed that it led to relationship conflicts.

Key takeaway: Hidden spending might bring short-term pleasure, but it risks long-term relationship harmony.

The sting of financial lies

Could concealing a receipt hurt as much as a hidden rendezvous? Let’s see how financial fibs stack up against emotional indiscretions in today’s relationships.

financial lies in relationships

Financial secrecy is turning heads in modern relationships: one in four Americans cohabiting with a partner viewed hidden financial behaviors as relationship cheating.

While the emotional toll is evident, with nearly one in ten Americans expressing that their partner’s secret purchases would wound more deeply than an emotional affair, it didn’t stop there. Another 10% of secret spenders admitted that their concealed buys negatively affected intimacy with their partner.

More than one in seven Americans also felt the sting of their partner’s secret shopping more acutely than seeing them follow an ex on social media or “like” one of their posts. 

The sentiment on financial infidelity was stronger among women, as they were 18% more likely than men to view it as cheating. As for the generational perspective, 42% of baby boomers labeled hidden financial behaviors as relationship cheating — the highest percentage among all generations surveyed.

Key takeaway: Secret spending can be as damaging as traditional forms of infidelity, with repercussions felt both in the heart and the bedroom.

Mastering the cover-up

Sometimes, it’s not just about the thrill of a new purchase; it’s the covert operation that follows to keep it under wraps. From hidden packaging to digital disappearing acts, these are the lengths people go to shield their secret spending.

manipulated financial spending

The measures some take to keep their financial indiscretions secret can be both ingenious and extreme.

When living with partners, 35% resorted to the classic “hide or destroy the packaging” method. Others opted for a digital clean-up, with 22% clearing browser histories and 18% promptly deleting incriminating emails.

But it got even more intricate: nearly one in ten were not above tweaking financial records to cloak their spending. Some secret spenders were also not above scheduling deliveries for when they’d be home alone, intercepting delivery drivers, and using different addresses for deliveries.

Interestingly, women were 41% more likely than their male counterparts to stash away packaging evidence of their secret buys. Men preferred erasing digital breadcrumbs from their online shopping sprees instead, being 32% more likely than women to do so.

Key takeaway: The art of secret spending isn’t just about buying what you want; it’s also about the elaborate dance of concealment that follows.

Closing balance

When navigating modern relationships, it’s clear that financial secrecy can be as impactful as traditional betrayals. Our study revealed that hidden purchases don’t just affect bank balances; they erode trust and emotional intimacy. The key to maintaining harmony and lasting bonds might lie in open communication and transparency  about financial behaviors.


To explore how hidden purchases can impact relationships, we surveyed 1,049 Americans who are in relationships and live with their significant others.

About Circuit for Teams

Circuit for Teams specializes in refining your delivery strategy, ensuring peak efficiency and seamless route planning. As a leading route optimization platform, we’re dedicated to enhancing the delivery experience for drivers, dispatchers, and customers.

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About the author

Heather Reinblatt
Heather ReinblattContributor

Heather Reinblatt is a managing editor currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. She spends her free time reading, trying new recipes, and cuddling her cat Paisley. You can find Heather on LinkedIn.


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