Talking about money with your romantic partner can be difficult, especially if financial red flags pop up. Setting your own spending habits, debt, credit score, and financial goals can feel awkward and vulnerable, especially if you're not where you want to be financially.
Sharing all the same financial values with your partner may not be essential in the early stages of the relationship. However, partners with different financial values may not share the same vision for their financial future, which can inevitably lead to frustration and future heartbreak.
What are the financial red flags?
“If your partner refuses to discuss money issues, that's a cause for concern,” Dr. Tracy Williams, a clinical psychologist and certified financial therapist, told Kiplinger. She goes on to say, “Some people are uncomfortable talking about money. This may be due to family history with money, lack of financial literacy, or other factors. However, talking about money… Refusing to do anything about it is a red flag, because it suggests there's something your partner doesn't want you to know.”
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Here are five financial red flags to look out for in your partner if you want to keep both your relationship and your finances healthy.
1. Keep your expenses private
Transparency is important when discussing money matters, and it can go a long way in ensuring a couple's financial compatibility. While we romanticize the idea of a partner surprising us with an unexpected gift or taking us on a vacation, the reality of secret spending is usually much less romantic.
A study by Bread Financial on financial infidelity revealed some interesting generational differences. 45% of married couples admitted to engaging in “financial infidelity” such as hiding purchases from their partner. More than half (53%) of Gen Z couple consumers admitted to spending some money in secret. Not surprisingly, Gen Z couple consumers (41%) are twice as likely to have a separate account compared to baby boomer consumers (22%).
If your partner's secret spending impedes your progress toward that goal or is inconsistent with the financial values you established together, then that spending becomes deceptive and harmful.
2. Borrow money frequently from friends and family
Oh, okay, things happen. It's not uncommon to have to borrow money from friends or family at some point. It's not a red flag to need help in a pinch, but it is when it becomes a habit. “When I see someone continually relying on others to provide their income or pay their bills on their behalf, it gives me pause.” Diana Surkamp, founder of Well Spent Wealth Planning, told Kiplinger.
Borrowing money becomes a major concern when it becomes a repeated behavior without any effort to break the pattern. Not only does borrowing money quickly become a burden to friends and family, it can also indicate that your partner doesn't manage money well and may not respect the generosity or financial boundaries of others.
“If someone is unable to take care of themselves financially or otherwise, it may be unrealistic to expect them to take care of you as a partner. Remember, There's a difference between asking for help from time to time and being financially dependent. Being dependent on others for money is a precursor to other problems,” Surkamp said.
3. Gambling and other dangerous habits
“Untreated addiction can have significant financial consequences, and learning that your partner is struggling with addiction can have mixed emotions,” Dr. Williams said.
“I pay close attention to behaviors that can lead to more serious financial disorders. Gambling addiction, compulsive spending, and financial dependence are financial disorders that involve behaviors that can be observed as an outsider.” says Surkamp.
If your partner has a gambling problem, spends too much money, generally lives beyond their means, and doesn't seem to be open to change, there may be problems in your life or relationship. Consider these red flags that could have negative effects.
4. Not future-oriented
The less forward-thinking partner may find ways to prepare for their future together, such as maintaining a budget, planning for retirement, and saving for milestones such as buying a home or sending a child to college. I don't manage my household finances.
Kiplinger's senior digital editor and recently newlywed Alexandra Svokos shares her thoughts on financial red flags in relationships. “The biggest financial red flag for me is chronically living beyond my means. In this day and age, it's easy to fall into the trap of comparison and maintain what you see on social media. “It would be scary for me to date someone who can't control their impulses again. It's a lot of short-term thinking, and it's not compatible with building a life together.” ” Svokos said.
Bread survey respondents agree. When asked what they look for in a future partner, 30% of single respondents said their girlfriend is someone who prioritizes saving. Younger generations are more focused on finding a partner who is planning for their future, with 36% of Millennials and 32% of Gen Z citing saving as a preferred behavior in a potential partner.
5. Irresponsible use of credit cards
When you're in a long-term, committed relationship, even if it's the other person's debt, it's also kind of your own debt. Paying it off will affect your ability to plan and work towards other financial goals together as a couple.
Intuit Credit Karma recently surveyed adults 18 and older who have used or are willing to use dating apps and found that 66% said it was important for their partner to have a good credit score. and 87% said they were interested in dating. Someone who is responsible for their own money.
Accumulating credit card debt, missing payments, and opening new credit cards frequently can not only put a huge strain on your finances, but it can also often hurt your credit score, making it difficult to get approved for a car loan or get financing. Future opportunities, including approvals, may be limited. mortgage. It may also interfere with your ability to date.
How to respond to financial red flags in your relationship
These red flags aren't necessarily relationship-destroyers, but if left unaddressed, they can lead to serious relationship problems and significant financial strain.
What can you fix? “It won't happen overnight, but a low credit score is something that can be fixed over time. You're not going to swipe left on someone just because they have credit issues. If you're willing to learn from it, you can be proactive.'' “Improve their credit history. Rent reporting services and secured credit cards can speed up the process,'' Surkamp says. says.
If you believe the financial red flags in your relationship can be resolved, decide whether to pursue that resolution. This is easier said than done, but try to be as honest with yourself as possible and tell yourself that you deserve someone who will prioritize your overall well-being, including your financial well-being.
Partners who don't make an effort to prepare financially for the future may lack financial discipline, clear long-term goals, or a clear vision of their future together.
- Determine whether the red flags in your relationship can be resolved. The first hurdle is identifying that there is a problem, and the second hurdle is learning how to communicate what the problem is. This can be very difficult, as money and trust are emotionally charged topics.
- Share your concerns with your partner. The first step to dealing with these differences is to decide on something you can agree on, such as paying household bills on time or setting aside a certain amount each month in joint savings or a shared account for household expenses.
- Consider hiring a professional. If communication is difficult, a couples therapist or a counselor specializing in financial therapy can help. An advisor can also help you work through your differences and figure out how to best share financial responsibilities.
- Know when to walk away: “Most financial red flags can be addressed through communication, financial planning, and in some cases working with financial or mental health professionals. If for some reason the issue is not resolved, you may need to consider whether this relationship is best for you,” Dr. Williams advised.
Walking away can be incredibly difficult, but it's a way to protect yourself and your future.