When you first fall in love, financial concerns don’t usually cross your mind. The initial months of hand-holding and stargazing are all about satisfying the desire in your soul, not balancing the checkbook. But as a romance grows increasingly serious and your lives become more intertwined, there comes a time when your partner’s spending habits can start to be a problem. This can create an awkward situation, but it must be dealt with so that the relationship can continue in a healthy (and fiscally responsible) fashion. As your budgets mold together and your accounts take on a shared name, keep an eye out for these signs that your partner’s habits might bring financial problems.
A Sense of Secrecy
Constant Use of a Credit Card
Credit cards are a fantastic innovation, but they’re also a major responsibility. It is very easy to misuse the privilege of making purchases with a card. A careless attitude can see mountains of debt pile up quickly. If your partner is racking up the expenses with the plastic, it might be worth having a conversation about it. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a serious financial hole.
Bills Always Paid Late
Promptly paying bills is more than a good habit. It is also essential for maintaining good credit, which in turn will make it easier to get loans and mortgages down the road. A constant tardiness also shows a general lack of responsibility that could lead to a host of other problems. Of course you don’t want to jump down you partner’s throat after a single stupid mistake, but be on the lookout for the development of problematic trends.
Hidden or Misrepresented Debt
Sadly, being “in the hole” has become a regular part of most Americans’ lives. Whether it’s a mortgage or student loans, almost all of us are working toward paying off something. In itself, your partner owing money (even a lot of money) isn’t necessarily a problem. The issue arises when they deny their situation or seek to misrepresent it. When this happens, you have to wonder if you can trust them with your own economic future (because, once married, you will be officially in the same boat). Always demand the straight scoop, no matter how complicated the situation is.
Budgets are Rarely Maintained
Mature financial decisions revolve around the maintenance of a well-conceived budget. People (and their partners) should know how much they earn, how much they want to save, and how much they can afford to spend each month. You should be clear (and fair) in devising a budget that accounts for both individuals’ needs and desires. If your partner regularly spends beyond their budget, this is a sign that they lack self-control and discipline, both of which are essential to maintaining financial health.
Savings are Barely Mentioned
If you’re a financially responsible person, it probably seems like a no-brainer that saving and investing are essential for a secure, stable future. It might come as a shock to you to learn that, for many people, setting aside some resources does not even figure as part of the financial equation. Maybe they are invigorated souls intent on “living in the moment,” or perhaps they are simply irresponsible and frivolous. In any case, if your partner falls into this category it can create a host of problems in your shared life together. Whether the issue comes down to upbringing, personality, or culture, you should do what you can to rectify your partner’s attitude by promoting saving as a virtue. The earlier they come over to the light, the sooner you can start building together toward a healthy financial future.
You Partner is a Frequent Borrower
We’ve all at some point needed to borrow some money in a pinch. These isolated incidents are not representative of a major issue. The problems arise when a person is in constant need of a loan. This suggests that they are incapable of managing their spending so that it matches their income. In extreme cases it can even stem from a general sense of narcissism and the belief that using others is acceptable behavior.
Resistance to Changing Habits
Sometimes the money gets tight and necessary changes have to be made. Maybe eating out for lunch is no longer on the table, or takeout coffee needs to be exchanged for a reusable mug brought from home. Whatever the adjustments are, your partner should be willing to get on board when the going gets tough. If they insist on maintaining a lifestyle that you can’t afford, it could be tough to ever get on proper financial footing.
Money is a Forbidden Topic
Communication is key in every aspect of a romantic partnership, but it is especially important where money is concerned. Budgetary and financial decisions should be made together, and both individuals should do their best to stay on the same page. If your partner refuses to have these difficult conversations, it might mean they are engaging in behavior they know to be problematic. It could also signal a general lack of maturity with regards to personal finance.
Being part of a couple is rarely easy, especially when money becomes an issue. If your partner is a frivolous spender, be supportive but firm in addressing the problem. Suggest financial counseling. Offer to provide moral support. Never stop loving your partner, no matter their financial irresponsibility. Changing spending habits is hard, and your partner will need all the support they can get.