When it comes to toxic behavior, it can sometimes be a struggle to identify exactly what is off about your relationship with a person before it's too late. Toxic behavior can impact the way you feel about yourself and those around you, and can create unnecessary stress and unhappiness in your life. But in addition to emotional toxicity, it's important to look for warning signs that someone is financially toxic, as well. Toxic people tend to be draining of our resources, and sometime, those resources are our hard-earned cash.
Of course, finances are a pretty personal thing, which can make financial toxicity feel awkward to talk about. Being reluctant to talk about an issue, however, can actually make it even easier for people to take advantage of the circumstances. As with all sensitive subjects, it's always a good move to talk openly and honestly in safe environments about what your needs, wants, and boundaries are. Finances are no exception to this rule, and it's important to establish boundaries no matter what role someone has in your life — whether they're your best friend, roommate, or significant other.
While the list below is definitely not all-inclusive, if anything stands out to you and rings true, it may be a good idea to talk to a trusted person or mental health professional and get some guidance and perspective. Toxic financial situations are a serious matter, and it's never OK for anyone to take advantage of you.
1. They Monitor Your Spending
Some couples choose to share their finances, and that's of course totally OK. However, if someone is monitoring every dollar you spend or questioning you about where your money is going, that's a red flag. If you and another person choose to share finances and financial responsibilities, that's definitely something you should talk about explicitly: How much of our income is disposable? How much can we spend without checking with one another? Are big-ticket purchases individual choices or mutual? These questions will, of course, vary depending on the relationship, but ultimately your financial autonomy is important and your money is yours first. No one is entitled to know every detail of your spending.
2. They Make Inappropriate Comments About Your Income
Whether someone thinks you're being paid too much or too little for your work, it's not OK for them to comment on your income. While some people feel comfortable talking about their wages, not everyone does, and either preference is of course acceptable, as long as others respect it. In this day and age, a lot of people are working multiple jobs or in roles that aren't necessarily their dream career, which is totally fine. But if someone is degrading you or critiquing you for the job you're in or the amount it pays, it's disrespectful and inappropriate.
3. They Guilt You Into Buying Them Things
If you want to do someone a favor, that's wonderful! But if not, it doesn't make you a bad person. If someone puts pressure on you to make a purchase for them that you simply aren't comfortable with, it's absolutely OK to let them know you can't do that — and it's inappropriate of them to insist that you do. Your relationship should not hinge on you buying them things.
4. They Drop Unexpected Expenses On You
Ever had a roommate tell you they can't make rent at the last minute? Or a coworker ask you to pick up the tab after you've both already ordered your meals and drinks? These situations can be really awkward, but it's OK: You don't need to fill up someone else's gap in money. If you want to treat someone or help them through a transitional period, that is entirely your choice. But if someone comes to expect that you do these things for them and stops viewing it as a gift and kind gesture, it's definitely good to sit them down and remind them that they are ultimately responsible for their finances. You aren't their personal ATM.
5. They Blame You For Their Financial Woes
This is a big one: If someone blames you for their own financial problems, it's really important to step back and remove yourself from that situation. At the end of the day, people are responsible for their own money, and it's not fair for anyone to blame you for their poor spending choices. Of course, it's important on both sides to be honest about what you can afford and what you actually want to spend your money on, but at the end of the day, you aren't a mind-reader, and you aren't their financial planner. If someone starts passive-aggressively blaming you for their financial woes, head for the hills.
6. They Refuse To Take Responsibility For The Consequences Of Their Actions
Ever had a friend or loved one who simply refused to acknowledge possible consequences for their money choices? You know, the person who just lost their job but wants to drain their bank account to go on vacation? Or someone who is late on their share of the rent again but doesn't understand why you won't go to happy hour with them? Yeah, those are rough situations, but it's important to keep them in mind that even if you really care about a person, you are not obligated or bound to help them out of their financial holes.
Whether people are just financially illiterate or simply haven't experienced consequences before, it's OK if you'd like to be there for them and offer guidance if asked; however, they shouldn't pressure you into simply paying their way out of their own mistakes. Even if you have the best of intentions at heart, if you notice someone is perpetually bad with money and takes no responsibility for it, establishing a boundary early might make all the difference.
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