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Dave Ramsey’s Tough Love Advice on Financial Infidelity: Why ‘the Money is Secondary’ – A Must-Read for Terrified Couples

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My Wife Spent $50K Behind My Back: Dave Ramsey Gives Tough Love to ‘Terrified’ Caller

My Wife Spent $50K Behind My Back: Dave Ramsey Gives Tough Love to ‘Terrified’ Caller


C.J. and his wife — who at the time was six months’ pregnant — had been working to pay off $57,000 in debt. But when a broker called looking to refinance the couple’s mortgage, C.J. inadvertently found out that his wife had racked up an additional $50,000 in credit card charges behind his back.

The Breach of Trust

“I’m terrified and I don’t know what to do,” C.J. recently told personal finance expert David Ramsey and his co-host Jade Warshaw on The Ramsey Show. This situation is “first and foremost a breach of trust — the money is secondary,” Ramsey told C.J. “That’s why people in my world call this financial infidelity.”

Understanding Financial Infidelity

Financial infidelity occurs when a spouse intentionally lies about money and hides their spending. It’s similar to sexual infidelity, Ramsey said, because it’s a deep breach of trust. A 2021 poll conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that 43% of adults who have combined finances in a relationship have committed financial infidelity.

  • Men are more likely to commit financial infidelity than women.
  • Financial infidelity is more likely to occur if the individual is employed and the household has children under 18.
  • Income and homeownership status don’t appear to be contributing factors.

Rebuilding Trust and Finances

Ramsey suggested that C.J. and his wife don’t just need to repair their finances — they need to repair their relationship. Repairing that trust requires an admission of “how big a deal” it is and not soft-pedaling any emotions it brings up.

Financial infidelity doesn’t have to end in divorce, Ramsey said, but it does require putting in place “systems and communication processes with the guidance of a marriage counselor” to rebuild that trust. C.J. also needs assurance that it won’t happen again.

Root Causes

If someone is committing financial infidelity, confessing is just the start of the process, according to Ramsey. They also need to figure out what’s causing that behavior in the first place.

  • Shame is a common cause of financial infidelity.
  • Financial infidelity can be triggered when one spouse is too controlling with the family budget.
  • Infidelity can also arise due to other issues such as an affair, addiction, or gambling problem.

In these scenarios, there may need to be a separation of finances until trust can be rebuilt or, in cases where it can’t, the marriage is over. In all cases, rebuilding trust begins with the deceiver owning what they’ve done and showing some remorse.


Financial infidelity is a serious breach of trust that can have significant consequences for a relationship. Rebuilding trust and repairing finances requires open communication, professional guidance, and a commitment to change. It is important to address the root causes of financial infidelity and work towards a healthier financial future together.


This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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