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200 - What is Financial Infidelity and Why is it a Problem?

200 - What is Financial Infidelity and Why is it a Problem? Image

05/20/2021 4:00 pm

A recent commissioned survey found 4 out of every 10 U.S. adults that are married, in a civil partnership or otherwise living together are keeping a major money secret from their current partner. In this show, Leh and Todd discuss the surprising results of this study. They explore why people commit 'financial infidelity' and why it is such a big problem. They wrap up the show with a discussion about what to do about it if you or your partner is 'financially unfaithful.'

Transcript

Leh Meriwether: Welcome everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orston. We are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether and Tharp. Here you'll learn about divorce, family law, and from time to time, even tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online in atlantadivorceteam.com.

What do you hear it, Todd? The crowds applauding.

Todd Orston: No. It was my stomach. I'm hungry.

Leh Meriwether: Oh.

Todd Orston: No.

Leh Meriwether: We're at show 200.

Todd Orston: I was about to say, you've gotten very good at this. Well, not very. But it's almost as if you've done this 200 times.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. Maybe 200 times.

Todd Orston: Give or take. I'm not exactly sure. No, no. Congratulations to you. Yeah. This is our 200th show. That is absolutely, to me, unbelievable. But anyway, we are still going strong and still enjoying it.

Leh Meriwether: We started in 2016. Wow, in October, it'll be five... I think it's October it'll be five years. That's amazing.

Todd Orston: That is amazing. That is amazing.

Leh Meriwether: Usually with a big milestone like that, anniversary like that, you get presents.

Todd Orston: I'm still waiting for mine. Yeah, absolutely.

Leh Meriwether: Well, you know what present I would like? I'd like maybe 200 five star reviews.

Todd Orston: Ah. Hold on, I'll start typing.

Leh Meriwether: Don't review ourselves.

Todd Orston: Oh, okay. Sorry. I'm not sure how this technically works, but... Todd and Leh are geniuses. I am so kidding to anyone who does listen. Anyway...

Leh Meriwether: No, but in all seriousness, actually if you are enjoying this show, if you're getting a lot out of this show, wherever you listen to it, if you wouldn't mind going there. If it's in iTunes or whatnot and give us a five star review and write a little blurb about what you like about this show because it does help us reach more people so we can help more people.

Todd Orston: And I will also say if there are shows, we've said this before. If there are shows you would like to hear, any topics you'd like us to discuss or if something that we've said you liked, didn't like, you think we should change, send us an email. Communicate with us. We are always constantly trying to improve. I know sometimes we are sorely lacking, but if you let us know what resonates, what is working, what's not working, we're going to keep trying to do better because again the whole purpose of the show, we want to keep things light but we want this to be as informative as possible. We want people, even people trying to avoid divorce, of course, people in the middle of some kind of a legal action, people thinking it might be an issue, or maybe just people who want to listen to these types of legal questions. We want to give as much information as possible. So if we can do that in a better way, we're open to that.

Leh Meriwether: Yup. So today is actually we're not talking about divorce per se, but we are going to talk about something that seems to be a growing trend or problem that is leading to divorces. This came from an article that was published by... Ted Rossman wrote the article on bankrate.com. Apparently one of their sister sites creditcards.com had done a commissioned a study and discovered in their study that four out of every 10 US adults that are married, in a civil partnership, or otherwise living together are keeping a major money secret from their current partner.

Todd Orston: Wow.

Leh Meriwether: Todd, I don't know about you, but I've seen a lot of cases where keeping money secret was the trigger for the filing of the divorce.

Todd Orston: Yeah. I mean, look, it's probably not the right time for me to bring this up, but Leh, the new Porsche Divorce Team Radio, it's got the emblem on the side. It did come in. So when I drive around, I'm promoting the show. That's the only reason. I don't even like those cars. So the plane with the banner behind it, that came in also. Oh, for any listener listening, if you think our budget is...

Let me actually be more realistic. Hey Leh, I spent some money on the pencils with our name on it.

Leh Meriwether: You got a pencil without me?

Todd Orston: I'm sorry I didn't talk to you first. I apologize. But no, you're right. These financial issues come up again and again and again and again, and sometimes I'm going to for lack of a better way of putting it sometimes, it's purposeful. It's malicious. Meaning somebody is truly playing hide the ball. They are truly trying to dispose of or hide assets maybe because they're thinking that they're going to go forward with the divorce or whatever the case is. But sometimes it's purposeful. Sometimes it's innocent, but the impact is still pretty serious on the relationship. It becomes that issue of is it really about the money that disappeared or is it about the violation of the trust you wanted to have and should have in your partner?

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. So let's talk about this study a little bit, and then we'll take a deeper dive and talk about what you can do about this if you've got this in your relationship. So apparently Millennials, 25 to 40 year olds are the biggest offenders, according to this study commissioned by creditcards.com. Just over 51%, or I'm sorry, just over half, 51% are committing financial, this is their term, infidelity against their current partner. For Gen Xers, it's 41% and for Baby Boomers, it's 33%. But across the board the biggest culprit is secret spending. Some 30% of coupled up individuals admit to spending more than their partner would be okay with. Secret debt is next at 11%, followed by keeping a hidden savings account 9%. A clandestine checking account and also a undisclosed checking account 7%.

Todd Orston: I don't know what bank you go to get a clandestine account, but that sounds really cool. I mean, that's very cloak and dagger, and I've tried to open that a couple times at the local branch and they don't know what I'm talking about. They're like, "Are you saying savings?" I'm like, "No, clandestine."

Leh Meriwether: They got those in the Bahamas.

Todd Orston: Is that where you get those?

Leh Meriwether: Yeah.

Todd Orston: Okay, all right. I just didn't know. I read the study, but I'm learning.

Leh Meriwether: That's pretty cool when you get the statements. It says at the top, "Clandestine."

Todd Orston: Exactly.

Leh Meriwether: It's like a checking account clandestine.

Todd Orston: It doesn't come in the mail either. A guy in a trench coat and a hat and glasses just walks up, knocks on the door, and hands it to you and runs. It's part of the Postal Service, but it's the clandestine part of the Postal Service.

Leh Meriwether: We've seen cases where somebody got... What was it, like $40,- $50,000 in credit card debt and had the statement sent to a PO Box that the spouse was completely unaware of until the divorce.

Todd Orston: Yeah. Yes. I actually had a case once where the spouse ran up credit cards to the tune of $70,- $80,000 because they were in her name without her spouse knowing. And then went, filed for bankruptcy without her spouse knowing, got the bankruptcy discharge, and then after that found some of his credit cards in a drawer, changed the address to a PO Box, and ran those cards up. So that's a pretty extreme example. So I know everyone is not going to be that extreme. But I will tell you what's not extreme is the concept of secret... For lack of a better way of putting it, secret spending. That happens all the time.

Leh Meriwether: So here's some common explanations. So the same study asked for a, "Why do you do this?" I don't know what the questions were. I'm just going from this article from Ted Rossman. So privacy, a desire to control my own finances was given by 30% of the secret keepers, followed by it never came up, I never felt the need to share 25%. I felt embarrassed about the way I handled money, that was 23%. I don't trust my partner with money, 23%. In case the relationship ends poorly, that's 21%. And I need the money to support an addiction, 17%. That last one, I've seen with a fair amount of frequency. Hiding an addiction.

In some cases, I've seen people react... I don't know if worse is the right word for it, but there's a greater emotional reaction to the discovering the secret finances than there is to an affair.

Todd Orston: Look, I've seen the reaction be pretty significant either way. The bottom line is again, when you boil it down, it's about trust. That's why. So whether you're having an affair or whether you are just blowing through marital money, you're still violating that trust.

Leh Meriwether: Yup. And I remember one time, we actually ran an ad years ago-

Todd Orston: Just like we're running out of time.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah, when we come back, we're going to talk about that ad.

I just wanted to let you know that if you ever want to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday mornings on WSB. So you can always check us out there as well.

Todd Orston: Better than like counting sheep, I guess, right?

Leh Meriwether: That's right.

Todd Orston: You turn on the show, and we'll we'll help you fall asleep.

Leh Meriwether: There you go.

Todd Orston: I'll talk very soft.

Leh Meriwether: Welcome back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com. If you want to read a transcript of this show or go back and listen to it again, you can always find it at divorceteamradio.com or wherever you get your podcasts.

Okay. Where we left off, Todd, you very astutely caught me before I ran over time.

Todd Orston: I mean, I never do that. You would think 200 shows, you were better. But whatever. I'm not-

Leh Meriwether: I was so excited to start talking. What is the problem? It's excitement just overwhelmed-

Todd Orston: Then calm down.

Leh Meriwether: All right. I'm calm.

Todd Orston: I am not throwing stones on that point.

Leh Meriwether: Actually, years ago ran an ad. I forgot why we stopped running it, but we had a story about somebody who is having a difficult time in their marriage with their spouse. And it was the final straw when their spouse had basically liquidated the children's college retirement fund and spent them. So he decided to get a divorce, and sometimes our ads are a result of a combination of things we've seen and cases. Obviously we're not disclosing attorney-client privilege information. You see things, patterns in cases. So you use those patterns to create advertising sometimes.

But amazingly, that ad resonated. And as soon as it came out, we got calls from it. That's not why we did the ad. But long story why we do our advertising. But anyways, I didn't expect to receive calls that quickly from it. But apparently it really resonated with a lot of people that were struggling with money inside their marriages, and there are a lot of statistics out there that talk about money management is a major source of stress in a relationship and it can lead to a divorce.

Todd Orston: Yeah, and I will say this, we always maintain our position that we are a resolution focused firm. And on top of that, you and I in terms of this show, again and again and again, we do shows all the time about how to stay together, how to work through problems, avoid the issues that could lead you to a divorce. Well, this is one of those. This is one of those areas where we see... Again, I love your use of the word patterns. This is one of those behaviors and the pattern of behavior that we see again and again and again create problems in relationships.

So when we're talking about this, it's not just in the context of how to deal with it in a divorce. To be honest with you, if I'm looking at this show in a certain way in terms of what is the purpose, it's actually more so, "Hey, this is something that can avoid you needing a divorce. You just need to understand that this is a trigger, and sometimes it is the trigger that opens that flood gate to all sorts of other problems and issues." So this is something we see again and again and again.

The malicious stuff, the purposeful hiding of money and all of that, that's very different. But the small stuff, the spending, whatever, the $100 here, the $500 there, whatever, and the money's disappearing, that starts to erode the trust. I know that if I spent $100 and my wife found out, she wouldn't think anything of it because it's $100. But if that behavior's been going on for six years and the $100 is several times per month and now all of a sudden my wife is doing some kind of a reconciliation in terms of our budget and our banking, and she's like, "Where did $10,000 or so go?" At that point, that $100 here or there that you didn't think was a big deal, the fact that you didn't mention it, it's a big deal.

Leh Meriwether: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So let's talk about why this... It's a lot of excuses or reasons why I like to control my own finances. Just in case their relationship ends poorly. I don't trust my partner with money. We've heard that a lot, but what people often miss is that if you're trying to achieve a certain financial goal, it's hard enough when you're pulling in the same direction. But when you're working against each other, if you're in a relationship and you're working against each other financially because you're not combining resources, you're not going to achieve significant financial success. The emotional consequences, like we were talking about, can be even more severe than the financial concerns of making sure you're on the same page with money, having the same joint bank account and everything.

There's actually multiple books out there where they've studied this issue. So one of the first one was the Millionaire Next Door by Tom Stanley that was written, I think it was in the '90s. Then a more recent one was Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan. When you read those two books and the books that are around that subject area, one of the common themes is the Everyday Millionaire are often people that make maybe $60- $80,000 combined household income, and they became millionaires because they worked together as a team. A couple working together as a team, having a budget, having a shared goal, having a shared vision, and their combined resources allow them to become millionaires, in some case multi-millionaires without...

A lot of times people think, "Well, you need to make $200- $300- $400,000 a year to become a millionaire. But you read these books and we're talking about thousands, tens of thousands of examples of people that became millionaires not making the kind of money you would normally think you need to make. And it's because in part they were on the same page, they didn't hide anything about money, and they became millionaires.

Some of it was from a business they built up and they paid off their mortgage. So between their house, their business, and some retirement, they were easily worth over a million. In other cases, it was because they were very smart with their... They maxed out their 401K contributions. So you can read the books to find out how they did it on such a low household incomes and how often that synergy, maybe you start off as a couple and you're making $40,000 a year combined household income. Not very much, but that synergy of working together, being a team. It energizes you and most of the time all those couples wind up, by the time they retire, they're making significantly more money because that energy at home translates into being a better boss or a better employee or a better manager, whatever your role is in wherever you work at work.

So those things all work together to help you achieve more.

Todd Orston: Yeah. And no, no, no, no. It's really good points, and again, I like the use of the word synergy because this isn't one person dominating that conversation. I've actually had this in my own family, meaning extended family, where one person tried to control the purse strings to a militant extent and that doesn't work. You need to find that common ground. You need to communicate to build that trust. To have that trust, you need to communicate. There needs to be honest communication. If you're not honestly communicating, you're not going to understand what each other's goals are, or if you understand what the goals are, then you're not, like you said also, you're not rowing the same direction.

Leh, I got to tell you, you're saying a lot of good things. It's rare, but you're doing a good job this show. I guess you saved it all for show 200. No, I'm kidding. I'm joking. I'm joking. No, you're making really good points that you can't be rowing in opposite directions and you can't row in the same direction if you won't even communicate about where your destination is.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. Way to pick up the ball and run over the goal line, Todd. That's an example of synergy right there.

Todd Orston: Wow, yeah. See. The rest of the show is just going to be us patting ourselves on the back. I'm only kidding.

Leh Meriwether: People are turning us off right now.

Todd Orston: I know. I know.

Leh Meriwether: Don't turn us off because we have more good stuff to talk about. Because divorce should be a last resort, and if we can get you in a place where you don't need to hire a divorce attorney, we'd love to be able to do that. That's why we're doing this show.

By the way, in that same article, I found this. I knew I wasn't making this up. So in the same article written by Ted Rossman on bankrate.com... This was according to their study. It says, "More than a quarter of US adults, 28% believe financial infidelity is worse than physical cheating." That's almost as many as the 38% who believe physical cheating is worse, and oddly enough the remainder couldn't decide which was worse, financial infidelity or physical cheating.

So this is a real problem, and if maybe you're the one that is the one who's sort of hiding right now, maybe your marriage is on the fence. You're the one who's hiding it or keeping a secret account. When we come back, we're going to talk about things you can do to come forward about that and work together to perhaps not only having a great marriage but becoming a millionaire. We'll get to that when we come back.

Todd Orston: Hey, everyone, you're listening to our podcast, but you have alternatives. You have choices. You can listen to us live also at 1:00 am on Monday morning on WSB.

Leh Meriwether: If you're enjoying the show, we would love it if you could go rate us in iTunes or wherever you may be listening to it. Give us a five star rating and tell us why you like the show.

Welcome back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd and we are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com. If you want to read the transcript of this show, you can find us at divorceteamradio.com, along with our other shows. Almost all 200.

All right.

Todd Orston: Nice plug.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. So we're talking about financial infidelity and why it's a problem. How it can harm your relationship, lead to a divorce or an end of your relationship, and why when you actually work together, grow in the right direction, have a combined goal that you work towards, how that can actually... There's lots of evidence of it. You can become a millionaire when you work together.

By the way, in the last segment I was talking about some books that were written about Everyday Millionaires, The Millionaire Next Door, which was a book written by Tom Stanley years ago. And Everyday Millionaire I think was written by Chris Hogan. In every situation, these everyday millionaires, it's a couple. Rarely do you find an individual. It is a married couple that worked together to achieve their financial goals.

I'm not talking about that billionaire list. I'm talking about what's the most common in the United States, the everyday millionaires. And it's not as impossible to achieve as you might think. So if you have any questions about it, go check out both those books. They're both great books. In both books, the people that became millionaires achieved it in different ways.

Okay. And we are not sponsors of either of those books. We're not getting paid to even talk about them.

All right. So let's say you're the one who's hiding this information. Let's say you've set aside a secret bank account and you have been just afraid to talk about it, or maybe you weren't afraid to talk about it and then you heard this show and go, "Gosh, maybe I should talk about it." The best thing is it's still going to be a surprise when you go sit down with someone. But it's better to come forward and say, "Hey, I want us to be on the same page, and I just want to let you know that I had had this bank account set up over here. I was putting money in it, and I should've of. And I wanted to tell you about it because we need to work together as a team because I love you and I want this relationship to work. And I want us to be the best possible marriage out there."

So you need to work on it. I'm just tossing that out there. But that's far better than letting them find out about it and then go, "Oh, I forgot about that. I'm sorry, can we work together now?" Don't do it after the fact. Be proactive with it.

Todd Orston: Yeah, and let me say this. There's some people who might be listening saying to themselves, "Well, that's kind of naïve. The whole purpose of putting this account together is so that I have this stash in case something happens, in case the relationship doesn't work out, in case I have to move forward with the divorce." But here's the thing, if the other side gets a halfway decent attorney, they will engage in discovery, and they will probably fairly quickly and easily be able to tell there's some other account out there. And then they'll know how to ask questions as to what bank it's with and what the value is, how the money was put into the account in the first place, where it was transferred from, whatever the case might be.

So the thought that you're going to be able to successfully maintain a secret account, fund that account, and at no time will your spouse ever find out about it, it's just not realistic. I mean, there are very few situations where someone has the ability and does the right things necessary to be able to truly hide an asset like that because the money has to come from somewhere. If you take it out in cash and then put it as a cash deposit, you still have a bank record where $1,000, $2,000, whatever it is is routinely removed from the known account. And it's just disappearing. We can ask the questions that relate to, "Hey, where'd that money go?" Or if it's just a direct deposit, part of your paycheck going into a different account, easy to find. Transfers from one account to another, easy to find.

So again, it comes down to what's your goal? If your goal is to have that open healthy relationship with your spouse, then you have to talk. You have to figure out how to disclose something like this is existing so that you can then move past it and say, "No, no, no." Whatever the purpose was, I want you to know this is for us. And therefore now we can start moving forward with saving or using that money to pay down debt, doing whatever you need to do to get to that financial prosperity you're looking for.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah, and we've even seen people who owned a business, and they hid money inside the business. So one of the spouse's own the business, the other one didn't. So they said, "Oh, I'm only making $100,000 a year," whatever the number may be. But they actually made $200,000 but it's sitting in a bank checking account for the business thinking they'd never find out about it. Well, as you said, Todd, a good lawyer's going to find it quickly because it'll show up in the tax returns.

Todd Orston: That's right. That's right.

Leh Meriwether: You just can't hide that. You can play clever games, but when you start doing tracing, money tracing, that's how actually a lot of criminals got caught was tracing the money. I remember in the '70s a lot of the drug... I forgot their titles, especially in South Florida. They got caught because they had too much cash for what they were reporting for income. So the IRS was able to catch a lot of the drug dealers, whereas the normal police force couldn't because you can always trace the money. A good forensic accountant and a good lawyer are going to find it 99% of the time. In fact, I really don't know anytime that somebody hasn't found it. I supposed it's possible, but-

Todd Orston: So now we have to change the title of this show. Now it's really a show on how to secret ill gotten drug proceeds.

Leh Meriwether: My point was even some very smart people who were getting away with illegal drugs for years got caught when the government changed how they were going to track them down.

Todd Orston: Follow the money. Absolutely.

Leh Meriwether: Follow the money.

Todd Orston: And we as a attorneys have a lot of experience. I don't want to go so far as to say expertise, but we have a lot of experience tracking, tracing, and following that money to make sure that we identify all the assets that need to be considered as part of the marital estate. But if it gets to a point where it's beyond what we're comfortable doing, we have on speed dial many experts who step in and routinely do that forensic work for us.

So the bottom line is if your thought is, "I'm going to keep this because I may need it in the future," well what you're really doing is maintaining another savings account that more than likely will become part of the discussion in that case later on.

Leh Meriwether: Right. So Ted, in his article, part of his conclusion was even if it's uncomfortable, we need to get these issues out there. Secrets hurt. I can vouch for what he's saying. He's saying that the longer the secret exists, the greater the damage. So coming clean and being honest and working towards something together is just so much better than them finding out. I suppose there have been cases where someone died and the other person didn't know about all this, but most of the time they find out about it. And the reason we know they find out about it is because they come hire us or someone like us, divorce lawyers.

So I think you're better off just coming forth and sitting down and doing it. Now let's say you racked up some debt or something. How do you get on the same page? How do you work together, but at the same time, sometimes people want their freedom. They're like, "Well, I don't want to be hamstrung by this budget. I want to be able to have some free money. Why do I have to account for everything I spend on?" Well, you can account for that. You can work towards that by building in what I think Dave Ramsey calls it when he proposes it. He calls it blow money. I also call it free money.

So each of you decide ahead of time that you're going to... You know what, $100 a month for each of you is you can do whatever you want with it. Obviously the bigger the budget, the more you can account for having fun money. That's another term for it, fun money and setting it aside. But all that money's accounted for. There's nothing secret about it. You both know that's the money you have to just spend on whatever you want. Whether it's something that you completely don't need or something that maybe it's a gift for someone else. I mean, not like a paramour or anything.

Todd Orston: Right.

Leh Meriwether: When we come back-

Todd Orston: Definitely not that.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. When we come back, we'll continue to talk about things you can do to make sure you're on the same page.

I just wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday mornings on WSB. So you can always check us out there as well.

Todd Orston: Better than like counting sheep, I guess, right?

Leh Meriwether: That's right.

Todd Orston: You turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.

Leh Meriwether: There you go.

Todd Orston: I'll talk very softly.

Leh Meriwether: Welcome back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp for 200 shows. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com. If you want to read a transcript of this show or go back and listen to it again, you can always find it at divorceteamradio.com.

Well, we have been having fun on our 200th episode.

Todd Orston: Yes, we have. I mean, I haven't enjoyed it, but as long as you're happy. It's your world, Leh. I'm just living in it.

Leh Meriwether: Oh, and it's a glorious world, isn't it?

Todd Orston: Yes, it is. Yes, it is. And we've been talking so much about communication, purpose, destination, in terms of what you're trying to accomplish. And you and I were able to do that. We're able to figure out what we wanted to accomplish, even though the destination may change a little bit. We're rowing in the same direction, and that's why I believe this has worked. But we see again and again and again people where they just... We see where somebody just jumps out of the boat of course and I'll just swim. I'm good. But where people aren't rowing in that same direction, and it starts with the little argument here and there and that increases in frequency. And then it becomes something much bigger, something uglier, and then unfortunately that's when people start calling law firms and moving down that path.

I'll be honest with you, we hate that. We don't want that. We want people to try and fix what's broken. But sometimes unfortunately the damage that's done, if you don't catch it early on to avoid making those mistakes, then the damage can be irreparable. So a big part of what we're trying to talk about here today is how to avoid those pitfalls, how to not engage in that or to cause that irreparable harm, and part of that, a big part is open communication so that you both have an idea of what you want, what you're willing to do to accomplish those goals, and how you're going to work together to accomplish those goals.

Leh Meriwether: So there's different organizations that do things like this. Dave Ramsey has a thing called Financial Peace University. I mention that just because I went through that 14-15 years ago, and I found it very helpful for working through a budget with my wife. I know it sounds weird. Gosh, you're a lawyer and you're running a firm. Shouldn't you know how to do a budget? Yeah, I know how to do a budget, but sitting down with your wife and making sure the both of you can hae a great conversation and not walk away screaming at each other, that's a different story.

Todd Orston: That's right.

Leh Meriwether: I'm being honest here. That helped me. I know there are other organizations that do something very similar. The budget part's the easy part in my opinion. It's the how do we communicate, be on the same page, make sure we're rowing in the same direction that can be a challenge, and that's where the concept of free money, fund money, blow money, whatever you want to call it comes in. When you get on that same page, it is such a good feeling. There's some months where you want to spend money on something, but you have to compromise with your spouse because you maybe trying to... She may have a goal or he may have a goal that is a really important to them, and you need to budget for it. So it's all about compromise but without this, like you've been mentioning, Todd, without the conversation going on, it's not going to happen.

So that covers a portion of the problems that we've seen, but there's another side to this where you see just this obsessive spending. I've often seen when I see cases where it involves someone spending, they're spending what I would almost call out of control or there's a compulsive spending, I usually see three things. And there are other things. These are just what I typically see. Either a lack of purpose in their life, suffering from something like depression, or an addiction, and those three things can cause someone... For out of control spending, obviously it's an addiction. You're spending it on whatever you're addicted to. Could be gambling, could be alcohol, could be any number of things.

But the depression, that's when the two of you have that honest conversation and perhaps you're the spender. And if your spouse says to you, "I'm concerned you're depressed," you should take that seriously because saying that takes a lot of courage. And so perhaps you need to get into counseling. Maybe there's medication out there that can help you because I can talk... There's a lot of people where it made all the difference in their life because part of their brain literally could not process some of the chemicals or couldn't process dopamine or that sort of thing that created a depressed state. So it was no different than having a problem with your heart you have to take medicine for, perhaps diabetes. It's no different. It's just for some reason whenever we talk about the brain, there's a stigma about it. So hopefully you can work past that stigma and treat the depression, which often treats the spending problem.

A lack of purpose can result in you just... Because you get that short little high from going out and buying something nice that you like, but if you have a purpose in life, suddenly you don't need that anymore.

Todd Orston: And I'm going to add one other one. Sometimes people just think... No, you know what, I'm going to say it differently. Sometimes people just aren't thinking. They're thinking more selfishly. Look, I like nice things. I like buying things for myself. I get that. But I've seen people where it's again and again clients where it's like you start looking at the spending, and you're like, "Really? I don't even know how you spent that much at that store. Did you just buy everybody everything? I don't get it." So sometimes people, it's that rush of, "I worked. I earned. I'm going to spend. You know what, I'm going to get away with it."

But those are purposeful acts, and at the very least, the last thing you should always be thinking of is, "Okay. When I get caught, am I going to own my behavior? Am I going to own the impact it has on my relationship?" Because too often that I see with clients, that's the part they ignore. They just were like, "I wanted that shirt and pants and shoes and other things, and I spent and I spent and I spent. You know what, I'll deal with the repercussions if and when they arise." But that's the mistake.

You should always be thinking of, "You know what, I'm now in a partnership." Look, you and I are partners. In the business, if I do something that basically is behind... And I wouldn't, but is behind your back or behind the back of anyone of my partners, I have to be thinking, "This is wrong, and when I get caught, what am I going to say? What is my defense in doing something that at the very least they probably would've said okay if I had said please. But I did it secretly." And people unfortunately, they engage in this risky behavior. I don't know if it's the same high as skydiving or something, but you almost look at it like, "Wow. Were you just going to push that envelope again and again and again until such time as now all of a sudden the relationship is on the rocks."

Leh Meriwether: Yup. So I've seen folks that they realize they have a problem, but it wasn't anything like an addiction or depression. They said, "You know what, we need to do something that changes our perspective a little bit." So they went and served at a soup kitchen. So every week, they were there and they were helping people that couldn't even find a place to eat, let alone go to Walmart or Macy's or wherever it may be and buy a whole new wardrobe one day. Their perspective changed. That joint effort of helping other people helped them almost as much as it did helping serve food to those that needed it. It doesn't have to be a soup kitchen.

It could be my parents when I was a kid, I remember they belonged to this Autobahn Society or something down in Tampa. So there was an injured seagull or injured pelican, a fishing hook got wrapped around its beak or something. We would go out there and rescue the bird and deliver it to the sanctuary where they would help the bird heal. So that was purpose and it helped them work towards something that was beyond the two of them. They've been married 50 plus years.

Todd Orston: Yeah. I don't want to brag but I'm on the Atlanta chapter of the pelican rescue. So if anyone finds an injured or sick pelican in the Atlanta area, call me. I'm only kidding.

Anyway, but no, finding that purpose, whatever it is, absolutely. That's going to obviously do good for the community and hopefully it'll bring you together and get you back to rowing in that same direction.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. Well hey, everyone. Thanks so much for listening. I hope this show helped you. If you're in a middle of a financial crisis, I hope that it helps you keep your marriage and relationship together.

Thanks so much for listening.