Keep an eye out for these money-related red flags that may indicate bigger problems later that may not be easily fixable.
Just like with everything else in your equation with your significant other, you need to be able to discuss finances, including the differences, with honesty and empathy. However, there are certain red flags that you should not ignore as they may be indicative of bigger issues later that may be awfully hard to resolve.
Finding a partner that is just right and complements your approach to finances can be tricky. It can sometimes be difficult to find an individual who is just right and balanced – while one may have too carefree an approach towards money and spend too much, another may be more tight-fisted than The Hulk in rage and tighten the purse strings so much that they snap.
People have also been surprised by partners whom they’ve known a while when they unexpectedly stumble into a financial maelstrom that their partner has either been concealing or brushing off as no big deal.
As a couple, a lot of the life decisions that you take together will be related to your finances in some way. For e.g., buying a house or a car, going away on holiday, having a child, deciding on the child’s educational institutions and so forth. So, it’s important that you are aware of your partner’s personal choices and attitude towards money as it could, potentially, cause a problem for you both down the line.
This is not to say that these money red flags are relationship breakers. As with other issues between a couple, these too can be discussed and dealt with logically. Working on this together could actually make you stronger as a couple as long as you are both willing to go the distance and make the effort.
Additional Reading: How a Married Woman Can Protect Her Financial Rights
Here are some red flags that could signal a potentially unhealthy situation:
They refuse to talk about it.
If a partner is ever unwilling to discuss their finances with you, it may be a cause for concern. While it’s okay to keep the topic off the table in the early days of a relationship, it is a bit odd when your partner appears reluctant to discuss anything even in the long run. This may indicate a part of their life that they wish to keep hidden and separate from the relationship.
Silence on money issues is a warning sign. Does your partner appear hesitant to discuss money, change topics, or get annoyed when you mention the issue? Apart from obvious monetary problems, it could also indicate deeper personal or psychological issues.
They have an overly positive or carefree attitude towards money.
Is your partner far too gung-ho in their attitude towards money? Do they spend without a second thought or live from pay cheque to pay cheque? Are their Credit Cards maxed out? Even if your partner is earning well and money isn’t a concern, draw the line at financial recklessness and a total disregard for money.
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They have too little savings & more financial woes than average.
Take into account where your partner is career-wise. If they’re just starting out or building a business of their own i.e., starting up, it may be logical to be short of money. However, someone who is mid-career but appears to show no signs of wealth growth, comfortable savings, or increased earnings could be a cause for concern.
It’s a red flag when your partner appears to be drowning in debt – for e.g., calls or visits from debt collection agents. If they appear to purchase everything on credit and their list of running EMIs is longer than the Great Wall of China, red flag! Further, if they’re frequently borrowing from their parents, family, friends or even you, know that there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
They are financially irresponsible & ignorant of basic personal finance.
Is your partner the type that borrows money and then (conveniently) forgets to pay it back? Are they constantly losing their Credit Cards or maxing out cards? If they appear to buy expensive things on a whim or live beyond their means or have a terrible Credit Score, you need to address and resolve the problem immediately.
If they show little interest in investing, saving and personal finance in general, it could lead to conflict later. For instance, have they bought a fancy car with EMIs so high that they’re left with little by way of savings each month? Do they still turn to their parents or you to bail them out when rent and insurance premium payments come due at the same time? Red flag.
Their financial values greatly differ from your own.
While it is true that everyone’s financial values may differ slightly, it’s important to gauge early on just how vast those differences are and see if you can reconcile them. Some aspects where financial values may differ (but can be reconciled) include appetite for risk, attitude towards taking on credit, careful planning versus spontaneous spending, etc. These could have a bearing on how you deal with financial matters as couple. For e.g., while one partner may have more of a risk appetite and will be eager to invest in equity for greater returns, the other may be more conservative and will not think beyond Fixed Deposits.
While these are examples of values that can still find middle ground for a couple, do be cautious when you see signs of dishonesty. A partner can hurt you quite badly financially and otherwise by hiding information, concealing their mountains of debt, siphoning money out of a joint account, spending on your card behind your back or taking loans in your name.
Additional Reading: Is Your Spouse Bullying You Financially?
They exhibit controlling or abusive behaviour.
While it is common for either one partner to take the lead on financial matters as they just may be better at it than the other, it is also important to ensure that this does not cross into the territory of absolute control and abuse. For e.g., if your partner denies you access to your own money, forbids you from earning your own or maintains secret bank accounts, those are giant red flags.
Just as with everything else for a healthy relationship, financial matters too need to be talked over and resolved between a couple. Refusing to resolve issues or even acknowledge a problem is an indicator of trouble. Financial maturity is a key part of healthy and balanced relationships. Learning to recognise the red flags early and tackling them head on may save you a lot in terms of both money and heartache.
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