While absolutely nobody is "perfect," and no one is 100 percent "together" when it comes to life, there are certain red flags you shouldn't ignore in a new partner — such as an inability to handle finances. If your partner is bad with money, there's a good chance it will one day affect your lives as a couple. So it may be something to consider before truly committing.
"Financial problems can cause major problems in relationships," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "It’s very difficult for partners who view money, saving, and spending in fundamentally conflicting ways to manage household finances together." And that's why it can lead to all sorts of arguments down the road. (Money issues, of course, being one of the top reasons couples break up.)
If your partner shows signs they aren't good with money now (and possibly won't be years down the line) talk to them about it ASAP. "Most values related to money are developed young by watching and learning from parents. As a result, they can be deeply ingrained," Bennett says. "But, if a couple has money problems, there are options. These include efforts at compromise and even meeting with a professional, not only a financial one, but also a counselor or coach to get on the same page as a couple." Here are a few signs that may mean your partner isn't financially savvy, that experts say need to be discussed before you get into a committed relationship.
1. They Never Have Money At The End Of The Month
Pretty much everyone goes through a time in life when they're living paycheck to paycheck, while for others it will be a long-term reality. And when you only make enough to pay your bills, that's totally understandable.
But if your partner is living paycheck to paycheck because they're irresponsible with money, that's a major red flag. "While living paycheck to paycheck can be a necessity, many people do so because they overspend and don’t budget properly," Bennett says. "If your partner spends a lot and always seems to be out of money until payday, it’s a red flag [they don't] care about budgeting and managing money."
You can bring this to their attention, and see if they're aware of their unhealthy spending habits. Many couples figure out a way to budget their money and save together. But if your partner can't seem to change their ways, be aware that this will likely lead to even bigger financial problems down the road.
2. They Always Pay With A Credit Card
There's nothing wrong with using a credit card, especially if you do so responsibly. But be wary of someone who uses one exclusively and never pays off their debt.
As Bennett says, "Many people misuse them and pay the price (literally) with ridiculously high interest rates. If your partner always pays by credit card, it could indicate financial irresponsibility."
3. They Don't Have Any Kind Of Savings
Having enough money to put into savings can be tricky, especially if you partner is doing that whole paycheck to paycheck thing. There's a big difference, though, between someone who can't save and someone who doesn't want to. And when the former is the case, it should be cause for concern.
"Even people who struggle [financially] will try to save at least some money if it’s important to them," Bennett says. "While it’s difficult to put away a lot of money at times, a failure to save anything at all indicates that saving isn’t a personal value."
As mentioned above, that might be something your partner learned at an early age, so it might be a tough habit for them to break. Whatever the cause, though, this is definitely something to consider before getting attached to someone financially, as their bad habits can become yours.
4. They Have A Significant Amount Of Debt (That They're Not Handling)
Plenty of people have debt in the form of college loans, car payments, and credit card bills. But it's how they manage it that matters. "If your partner comes into the relationship with a significant debt, but keeps on spending, this could be a red flag that their financial skills are not up to par," relationship counselor Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, tells Bustle. "Debt is not abnormal, and spending money is of course necessary, but the question is how the two pair up."
Discuss what kind of debt they have, and how they're handling it. "If your partner is spending on luxuries while the credit card bills continue to rise, there might be a lack of responsibility here that should be paid attention to," Bilek says. "Spending should be in step with income; growing debt instead of shrinking it is not financially savvy."
5. They Don't Know How Much Money They Make
This might sound strange — especially if you yourself are good with money — but some folks don't even know how much they make. Or, at least they don't pay attention to their cash flow.
And that's not a good thing. "If [your partner] doesn’t know how much money enters and leaves [their] bank account, [they are] setting [themselves] up for overspending and debt," Samantha Daniels, dating expert and founder of Samantha's Table Matchmaking, tells Bustle. "This should be concerning because most people set aside funds for certain expenditures and most importantly necessities." You know, the whole "rainy day" fund.
If your partner hasn't been paying attention to their money, they can certainly start. Do keep your eyes on this habit, though, since it's not always easy for people to change.
6. They're A Big Spender
While it's obviously fine to splurge occasionally, some people go overboard again and again and again. And it can certainly be a sign that they won't be good with money.
"You should always be wary of a [partner] who spends more than what [they have]," Daniels says. "Big extravagant gifts feel good in the moment but not if they are going to put your partner or your family in debt."
7. They Rely On Their Parents In A Big Way
Hey, times are tough, so it's not necessarily a red flag if your partner relies on their parents for financial help. Do, however, take note of their attitude in doing so.
As Stef Safran, a matchmaking and dating expert says, "It's nice to get help with a home or a car, but if they don't know how much these things would cost if they had to buy them on their own," it may be a sign they aren't financially savvy.
Also, raise a few eyebrows if they don't seem appreciative. It's always fine to ask for help when you're struggling with money. But if your partner takes without realizing how lucky they are to get that help, it may mean they aren't going to learn to stand on their own two feet any time soon.
8. They Consistently Ask You To Pay
It obviously doesn't matter who pays for dinner, or who buys the movie tickets, as long as you're both in agreement and no one's feeling short-changed. But if you can't seem to go on a date without your partner asking you to get the bill, it may be a sign of bigger problems to come.
"If your partner is chronically short on cash, that’s your first red flag," Daniels says. "Not only does this show that [they] might be living a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle but it also could mean that [they don't] have any back-up funds as well. This should make you wary because [if] you have a family, you want to have a consistent lifestyle and not worry that the lights might get turned out." Because really, relationships are tough enough without the added drama of financial issues.
Of course, it's always OK to be understanding when your partner's in a tight spot, and it's always smart to work on money problems together as a couple. But it's not a great sign if it's a huge problem from day one, as this might mean things will only be harder in the future.
By making sure you're on the same page financially — and both working towards similar goals — money doesn't have to be cause for concern.