Are Business Expenses Hurting Your Marriage?

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The charges you place on the company card may seem quite innocuous. All of it is within the business owner’s control: a new desk chair, a weekly lunch with coworkers, an upgrade to the office space. What’s the problem with a company credit card swipe?

There is nothing wrong with business expenses. And no one is suggesting that entrepreneurs stop spending money. The temptation to spend can lead to spending that isn’t so innocent or harmless. Many business owners find themselves in financial infidelity . because they have the opportunity to spend money at work that you wouldn’t make on Sunday with their families.

Unlike traditional infidelity, financial infidelity can be twisted, manipulated, and ignored even when it occurs in broad daylight. The fallout from deceptive business spending can cause irreparable damage to trust and relationships.

Being honest with your spouse

It’s not a terrible idea to separate your work life from your home life. No one wants to bring work problems home to be shared on the kitchen floor.

That mindset, while healthy in one regard, can turn little white lies into catastrophic financial troubles. The proud entrepreneur will keep the details secret when the company is in trouble. He or she decides that the family home can be leveraged to help them quickly fix the problem and generate some cash flow. Although the plan was not to steal from their spouses, it’s what happened. The family will be responsible for any spending that they didn’t know about if the company goes bankrupt.

Year after year, finance is one of the leading causes of divorce. While it is normal for couples to disagree about spending and saving, it can be a problem when those disagreements are accompanied by dishonesty. Things can get very sticky when there isn’t enough business debt.

If company costs are mounting up and you feel compelled to keep this information from your spouse you should be open about it. Even if you have separate bank accounts, your financial life is intertwined.

Related: 5 Rules for Going Into Personal Debt as an Entrepreneur

Being honest with yourself

Financial infidelity thrives on people’s best intentions. Most often, financial infidelity thrives on secrecy.

  • A wife with a startup doesn’t want to worry her husband, so she gets a small loan on the side without his knowledge.

  • A husband is trying to court a new client with fancy dinners, but feels guilty about the spending and keeps the credit card statement hidden.

These events, especially when isolated, seem innocent enough. Sometimes they are dealt with, but never fully revealed. Most of the time, however one hidden expense becomes a dozen. You soon find yourself spending to cover up your spending. By the time you come clean, the debt is out of control and has invaded your personal finances. The constant lying that is a side effect of compulsive spending, gambling, and substance abuse is the main problem. To lie, in most cases, is a means of self-preservation. Talking about questionable spending in your company is not something you want to do. It will make you look less than flattering. It’s easier to pretend the problem is not there and carry on with the same old habits, hoping that the situation will resolve itself.

As one who controls the purse strings, it is your responsibility to recognize when business spending could soon impact your personal life. When you are considering how company expenses might impact your spouse, it is important to be honest with yourself. It’s a slippery slope that can lead to a lot of financial ruin if you choose to keep your spouse in the dark.

Related: You Suck at Money, So Never Mingle Business and Personal Expenses

Setting boundaries

The amount invested back into your company isn’t always something you can control. Some costs are unavoidable, such as inventory, staff, and transportation.

You can still have a spending policy that allows you to prioritize. Budgeting can be simple and straightforward. To start, you can make a list of your necessary and discretionary expenses. If you don’t know which category a particular expense belongs to, assume it’s discretionary. A budget will help you spend wisely and will also combat the “all business spending equals good spending” mentality. Too many CEOs use the company card to show their wealth and success. This is financial infidelity. When it’s easier to spend money on a new standing desk at work than taking your kids to see a movie, your priorities need a realignment.

Establish limits. Set up safeguards. Don’t succumb to wishful thinking when it’s obviously not working, especially if you know you’re predisposed to spending more than saving.

It’s rare to hear someone regretting spending more time with their family than ordering lunch at work. Although work may seem overwhelming at the moment, you can make a commitment to your future and your family. Be honest with yourself and your spouse. Don’t lose sight on the things that truly make you wealthy.

Related: 9 Business Expenses You Can Reduce or Eliminate to Save Thousands

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