Leaving the toilet seat up.
They say that with those taken care of, your love life will flourish and be cemented for life.
But in 2018?
Not quite. In addition to those pillars of love, you and your significant other need to be on the same page financially in this day and age to make it last.
There are financial red flags you need to pay attention to in your love life.
“But love is all that matters, right?”
You can say whatever you want, but here are some numbers:
Of all the divorces in this country, about 80% cite financial problems as a source of marital strife. A 2017 Ramsey Solutions study of over 1,000 U.S. adults found that 48% of couples with more than $50,000 in debt cited money as a top argument starter.
That same Ramsey Solutions study also found that 54% of couples who were in “great” marriages talked about money with their spouse daily or weekly. This is compared to the 29% of couples in “okay” or “in crisis” marriages who also talked about money regularly with their spouses.
Money is something you need to be open about with your significant other.
You will need to pay attention to these 4 financial red flags in your love life.
Extremely One-Sided Contributions
“Oops, I forgot my wallet! Get me this time, honey.”
“Be right back. I need to go to the restroom.” Just as the bill arrives at the table.
Does that happen more often than not? If not all the time?
You are most likely getting taken advantage of.
When they happen too often, the forgetting-the-wallet-trick and the disappearing-when-the-bill-comes-act are HUGE. RED. FLAGS. when it comes to signs of mismatches between you and your significant other financially.
Yes, there are exceptions.
You and your honey might have an arrangement where they get the bills and you take care of date nights and entertainment.
That is fine!
The financial arrangements between you and your spouse/significant other do not have to be set in stone (but I certainly will not discourage you from writing them down!), nor do they have to be equal.
What each of you takes care of can change from time to time. You two might even have different burdens depending on how much each makes. It is completely fair and sensible for one person to pay more if they have a higher salary.
Other sensible exceptions are where they are unemployed due to difficult circumstances and you see them make an honest effort to regain employment, or if they are knee-deep in student debt that they are paying down consistently.
Whatever the case is, be completely open and honest about what each of you are contributing financially.
Nobody wants to feel gypped or taken advantage of.
Money Talk is Taboo Around the Kitchen Table
All topics should be fair game between couples.
Sure, there are hot-button topics that there might be difficulty broaching, but finances?
Not a chance.
There should not be any walls between you two when it comes to money talk. Personal finance is about as personal as it gets if you are serious with your significant other.
Both of you should have a good idea of the following for each other:
- How much do they have saved?
- How much do they make?
- How much do they owe?
- Credit rating (although this can be as simple as whether their rating is “good” or “bad”)
- Spending tendencies
These are all extremely basic bits of information one should know about themselves, especially for those following this blog. They should be as basic, in-the-forefront-of-your-mind, and easy-to-recall as your height, weight, and age.
That last bit was so important I am going to repeat it.
They should be as basic, in-the-forefront-of-your-mind, and easy-to-recall as your height, weight, and age.
Because of that, it is essential that this information is clearly shared with your spouse or significant other.
Big. Red. Flag.
If that were the case, then there could be larger underlying issues between you two. There could be trust issues, and some huge things are probably hidden from one or the other.
It might be worth your sanity to think of any times where your love was caught lying about how they spent their money, if they had not been truthful about mail, or if they had been dishonest about money at all.
Completely Unsustainable Spending Habits
If your spouse or significant other is in dangerously-spiraling debt or has a tendency to mindlessly spend money, you have a problem on your hands.
Let’s talk about debt first.
Of course there are explainable reasons for carrying large amounts of debt.
One might be still paying off a loan for school or for real estate.
One might be unemployed because of unfortunate situations at their company. Maybe there was a round of wide layoffs. Maybe even the whole company was shut down.
One might have very recently gone through emergency scenarios like having to pay for a large, unexpected medical bill. Maybe their car broke down.
Even more commonly, one might have just made a mistake that they are currently paying for, and at least have learned from. Examples such as that car they didn’t really need, or the fancy apartment that was actually out of their budget. Live and learn, right?
The important part is that they learn from it.
There is also a large range of debt. They could be down a few thousand dollars and are currently climbing out of it. They could also be down six-figures that seems impossible to pay off. The spectrum between the two extremes is broad, and you will have to be able to judge whether it is significant or not.
As long as the debt is sensible and at a modest balance, you should be able to live with it.
Be ready for problems down the line if they have not already shown themselves.
The other part of this red flag lies in their spending habits.
Everyone knows about the honeymoon phase where you want to buy fancy gifts and lavish dinners.
Love makes you do crazy things, but what if your honey is doing those things when you know they’re broke, or if they’re neck-deep in debt? If they are willing to spend that much on you when they’re already in a precarious financial situation, how much do you think they spend on themselves?
Do they have trouble paying off bills, but always come back home with arms full of shopping bags?
Do they have a “budget” but come up with every single excuse when they fail to meet it?
Keep your eye out for all these behaviors.
If they rear their heads, be prepared for a long, hard talk.
Your Approaches to Personal Financial Just DO. NOT. MATCH.
You are on this blog for a reason.
You have goals. You want to build a lifestyle that effectively and efficiently gets you there.
It might be a bad idea to be with somebody who is not on the same page with you when it comes to finances.
Do you have a steady job, yet they never seem to be able to hold one?
Like I mentioned above, there are reasons for being unemployed, and they happen to quite a lot of people.
There are also valid reasons for one to find one’s calling and to justify a career change, but that only works so many times before it becomes apparent that they are just not being serious about their career and/or goals.
Holding a steady job shows that you have spent the time to dig deep inside yourself and to find your own goals, that you have the know-how and ability to reach those goals, and that you are ready to make the commitment required to stay on course.
You cannot reach financial independence or achieve any milestones in personal finance without income, and it just so happens that having a good, steady career is a great source of income.
Is your spouse or significant other always unlucky or never seem to catch a break? Do they always have explanations for things that go wrong? Is it always just somebody else’s fault?
Do they have unpaid bills, and blame the mailing system?
Have they blamed a past bankruptcy on an ex?
Is the collection agency that hounds their phone full of liars?
If everyone else is the problem, maybe the problem isn’t everyone else.
One has to face their demons and have the fortitude to address them.
They cannot achieve your goals if they cannot take the responsibility to fix their problems.
Lastly, were they not open to learning about personal finance?
Have they shown resistance, or even aggression when you tried to sit down to discuss anything related to personal finance?
If the answer was yes to any of these few questions, then there will be issues. Big ones.
Being open to learning is a sign of intelligence and an even bigger sign of future success.
It is also a sign of being a decent human being.
If someone is not open to listening about personal finance, let alone learning about it, you might be in for a long patch of rough road up ahead.
These are all red flags that should be in your mind when it comes to your love life.
Again, you are on this blog because you want to make personal finance a part of your life if you have not already done so. You have your own goals that you are either trying to establish or trying to achieve.
Is it smart for you to be with someone who is not on the same page?
There is the argument of how opposites attract. But what is the point of being with an opposite when they do nothing but slow you down in this part of life?
Obviously, breaking up is not the only solution!
Communication is the greatest tool for a relationship. Although yesterday was the best time to talk about it, today is the second best.
It is not too late to talk things through with your love when it comes to differences in your finances.
I would love to hear from you about how you and your spouse or significant other overcame these differences!
Share so others can learn and save their relationships!