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23 Signs Of Financial Irresponsibility In A Relationship

by Sonya Schwartz

Financial responsibility is one of those ‘real-life’ issues that hardly come up during the talking stage of a new relationship. I mean, have you ever asked or had a new flame ask you if you’re financially irresponsible on a first date? Even if your credit score was way off, would you say yes at that point?

If we’re being frank, we know finance isn’t the most comfortable topic to bring up with a new partner. However, it is still one of the major reasons even long-term couples fight. Since people generally don’t expect to become financially accountable to someone else until they are fully committed, such talks are often reserved for when marriage is around the corner.

This is a problem because if one party is in debt or has issues with their finance, it affects your collective financial goals. Nevertheless, it would be unwise to build a relationship that may potentially lead to starting a family together on a credit score that’s bad enough to sink both parties even with your monthly earnings.

Since we can’t all have the luxury of having a partner who opens up about their finances, looking out for the following patterns and behaviors might help. Better safe than sorry, am I right?

23 Signs Your Significant Other Has A Problem Managing Finances

1. They Have No Financial Goals

they have no financial goals

Many of us have financial goals that keep us on track when we see that accessory we don’t need but want. It’s what keeps you from joining an expensive trend sometimes, even though you wish you could. This can be anything from deciding to improve your income to be more economical with your spending.

Such objectives can also be either short-term or long-term goals, like saving for your future kids’ college, or towards your business or buying a home. While your partner doesn’t need to have the exact same financial goals as you, it is a red flag if they have none at all.

2. They Live Off Of Other People

No man is an island; everybody needs somebody. However, if at your significant other’s big age, those sayings only apply when it’s in their favor, they might not be the most responsible person financially. You can always tell someone going through a rough patch apart from one who has made a habit of living off other’s backs.

Where the former might reach out for help as a last resort, the latter’s loved ones already know what to expect when he calls. So if your partner is always asking for handouts, despite having a job, or spends his nights shuffling between friends’ places to eat and sleep, that’s a glaring sign he’s not financially independent.

3. They Borrow Money From Others A Lot

Some people don’t make their money problems as evident as asking for food from buddies or moving back home when they can’t make rent. Instead, they’d rather borrow at low or zero interest from people who are likely to give them the least issue if they don’t pay back on time- family and friends.

However, a financially disciplined man knows that this option being readily available doesn’t make it prudent to use it all the time. However, his less mature counterpart will comfortably borrow more money than he already owes to offset the existing one. And on and on it goes until he’s neck-deep in debt.

4. They Borrow Money From You Without Paying It Back

You may not be privy to where your partner gets their money from, especially if you’re dating an “I’ll handle it” kind of guy. But you can take it as a warning sign if they try to use your relationship as an edge to get money from you.

Now, some guys find asking their girl for money difficult, so he might disguise as a borrower. If he’s asked you to lend him a sum more than once and refused to pay back even when he has it, that’s bad news. It not only indicates that he doesn’t think about next time, but also that he somehow takes you for granted.

5. Your Partner Is A Gambler

your partner is a gambler

The question here isn’t whether gambling in and of itself is bad, but whether the person who does it knows when to stop. There are tons of people who enjoy risking it once in a while; a go big or go home sort of thing. It’s exciting but can be just as devastating when you lose your hard-earned money.

If he doesn’t handle the addiction, it would be his money and yours on the line soon enough. Another sign you should watch out for is when he taps into his emergency fund just to better his odds. These are red flags that shouldn’t be ignored because an un-checked gambling habit could soon land your guy in debt. 

When they get so obsessed with winning that they don’t mind where the money comes from, even if it means incurring more debt, then you really need to talk to him. 

6. They Are Obsessed With New Things

I imagine one reason the “money isn’t happiness” saying is so popular is that there will always be something you want to do with it. If your fulfillment in life is tied to having all the latest things, there’s no way you will ever truly be content regardless of how rich you are.

Does your partner have to get the latest stuff from luxury wears to gadgets, cars, or whatever else they spend on? It may also not be specific favorite items but a compulsion to shop in general, just because it’s on sale. These are all indicators of financial indiscipline, especially when these things aren’t needed. 

7. They Are Struggling With Other Addictions

Unfortunately, shopping and gambling aren’t the only addictions that can take somebody back to square one. Although some are considered more financially-intensive than others, experts have found that money problems often stem from one addictive behavior or the other.

Money may not seem like the primary cause for concern for addictions that don’t directly involve losing it, like compulsive shopping and gambling. However, most of them end up taking a massive toll on your finances anyway, and it’s a slippery slope from there to financial irresponsibility.

8. They Live Above Their Means

The thing about buying or spending money on luxury items and services on a regular basis is that it could land anyone in debt twice as fast. So does your partner’s lifestyle match his income? With such people, what they buy and wear and use just doesn’t add up with the amount of money they make.

If the goal is to get married to this person, it’s important to have this chat with each other. You should know how much he earns and vice versa, from there you’d be able to judge if he’s living above his means. So, unless financial security isn’t a big deal to you, I’d say this is a shiny bright red flag.

9. They Never Pay Bills On Time

Has the landlord come knocking on several occasions to ask for rent while you were over at your partner’s place? Have you stumbled on overdue credit card bills in their apartment more than once? And I’m talking about this being their norm, and not just in those few rough months.

If your significant other is an adult and not a dependent expecting someone else to pay these bills, waiting till the last minute to do it isn’t a good sign. It either suggests they don’t care much for credibility or are not very organized generally.

10. They Live Only For Today

they live only for today

Living in the present is all fun and games, and yes, it’s more stressful thinking about long term goals and investments. But as much as we want to make today worthwhile, a financially mature person knows to leave something for the future. And this is where setting financial goals come in.

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If your man takes living in the moment literally, in that they never plan or budget, with no savings or investments whatsoever, you should be concerned. This is, of course, different for people who have a terminal disease or something and are trying to live their best life while they can.

11. They Go Over Budget All The Time

On the other end of those who never plan their finances are those who do but never stick to it. It’s not news that many of us do things because all the cool people are doing it. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that someone can set a budget or financial goals every month without actually taking it seriously.

If they have no trouble exceeding their plan for the month or discarding it altogether regularly, you should be worried. 

12. They Have Bad Credit

It’s not exactly rocket science that someone who racks up credit card debt and never pays their bills on time will wind up with low or negative credit scores. Not that everyone with credit card debt is irresponsible financially, but you can clearly see the difference in their attitude.

If yours truly can’t point to one credible reason why they delay payment or owe so much, I wouldn’t pitch my personal finance tent with that kind of person. 

13. They Use Multiple Credit Cards

Have you ever gone on a date with someone, and they had to bring out like six credit cards before the payment went through? While having several credit cards can be good for your credit scores, it’s also an extra temptation for someone with bad financial habits.

Where somebody with a solid financial background would try to maximize having multiple cards for a good credit rating, the other uses them to incur needless debt. In this case, exceeding credit limit, expirations, and other reasons for declined transactions are all warning signals. 

14. They Have Nothing To Show For Years Of Earnings

they have nothing to show for years of earnings

Financial irresponsibility doesn’t always look like fast cars and fancy shoes or even irrational long-term goals. Sometimes, it’s quite the opposite – nothing at all. If you're dating someone whose goal in life is just to merely get by, that could be a problem.

If your significant other makes more than enough to meet their needs and still has no assets (no matter how little) to show for what’s left, you have a bad situation right there. If they can’t point to an investment, a savings account, or even a failed business their money went to, that sounds like a future stability problem waiting to happen.

15. They Change The Subject When The Money Talk Comes Up

The goal of talking about finances is to know where both of you stand, and what you can do about that now and in the future. However, it’s not the most enjoyable topic to discuss, even though it’s very important.

Transparency in relationships is important, especially when you have joint goals. So regardless of how uncomfortable it makes him feel, he should talk about it. If he shies away from the topic way too often, then that’s not a good sign.

16. They Lie About Their Financial Situation

We, women, have our way of getting information from our partners, I’ll give us that. But then, men have also been in this business long enough to come up with their own coping mechanism when they can no longer avoid it.

If you’re in a committed relationship with this person, and they lie about a job loss or assure you all is well while they service debt, that’s just unfair. While it understandably might be their ego pushing them, you have a right to know about situations that can potentially make life harder for you. 

Couples are supposed to handle stuff like this together, so hiding something that big from you isn’t them being protective, but a failure to communicate effectively on their part.

17. You Don’t Trust Them With Money

Your partner can be unfaithful to you in more ways than having a sexual or emotional affair with another woman. Financial infidelity is just as real and can also be as damaging to a relationship as sleeping with someone else.

Simply put, financial infidelity happens when couples with joint assets lie to each other about money. This may include taking money out of the fund without informing your partner, stashing some of it elsewhere, or like the above, hiding the real state of the account. 

If you’re unable to trust your partner with money anymore because you’ve stumbled on hidden bank statements or other irregularities, there’s one surefire tell.

18. They Take Money Out Of Your Joint Account Without Informing You

they take money out of your joint account without informing you

This encompasses not one but several red flags in a relationship. First of all, convincing your partner to set up a joint account only for you to withdraw from it without prior notice is a breach of trust. It also shows that you do not respect the other person enough or see them as equal.

While all this may not be much of an issue if the debit alerts are still negligible, it’s enough reason to freak out if the sums are tangible or happen frequently. It’s worse if they come back and act normal instead of explaining where the money went. 

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If this is your situation, your partner might be that reckless with your joint fund because that’s how they are with their own money too.

19. They Dip Into Emergency Funds Recklessly

Likewise, even emergency funds are not sacred to financially immature folks. If nothing else, you’d think the name of the stash would deter someone from touching it except when absolutely necessary, knowing that anything can happen that might require urgent money.

Unfortunately, money is just money to some people, and the only way you can keep them from spending it is not to give them access to it. If your partner dips into their or your combined reserve fund for some flimsy reason, there’s your indicator.

20. They Leave Funding The Relationship To You

Gone are those days when we leave it to the man to foot the bills of our joint expenses in a relationship. This might be a bit of a bias, coming from a woman and all, but I personally hope the time never comes when women are 100% expected to do the same.

It’s one thing to give your man an all-expense-paid treat sometimes, but it’s weird if he starts waiting for you to do it every time, even if you can afford it. Unless you’ve agreed to a system where you foot the bills all the time, your partner asking it of you isn’t a good financial habit.

21. They Are Not Rich, But They Don’t Check The Price When They Shop

We’ve heard accounts of millionaires who are so rich they know they can definitely afford all their wants, so checking individual prices when the shop seems pointless. Those people can get away with that because even if they somehow manage to exceed what they’re supposed to spend, they can more than makeup for it.

However, if your man, who still lives on a budget adopts this big spender attitude, it might have more detrimental effects. This might seem little, especially when their credit card hasn’t declined yet, but think about how not knowing what something costs might make them undervalue it. Now imagine they apply that philosophy to all aspects of their life.

22. They Are Obsessed With Looking Rich

they are obsessed with looking rich

Sometimes this goes beyond impressing strangers on the internet. Being poor or homeless doesn’t scare such a person as much as other people seeing them that way does. If this culture extends to even you, who is supposed to be their significant other, your partner is not financially responsible.

You might find them asking to take you out to a fancy restaurant you know isn’t convenient for their pocket or borrowing money from friends to effect a grand gesture and sweep you off your feet. While it may seem romantic that your partner would go to such lengths to impress you, it’s a warning sign that they tend to bite more than they can chew.

23. They Want You To Be More Conservative With Spending Than Them

Even financially irresponsible people don’t like to run out of money, so they always try to secure a backup. If you are unfortunate enough to have such a partner who considers your money as a reserve for when theirs finishes, you might notice the following: their money management skills only kick in when it comes to your funds. 

They may try to control your spending and guilt trip you when you decide to splurge with your OWN cash sometime. They may also try to keep track of your earnings or do a lot worse in the name of keeping you accountable.

FAQs

What are the five warning signs of financial trouble?

Signs of financial trouble in a relationship may include late bill payments, limited access to your joint account, savings account taking a hit, delving into emergency funds and debt. Of the five, having mounting debt, credit card or otherwise, is usually on top.

What are some effects of financial irresponsibility?

The effects of financial irresponsibility are mostly adverse, especially long term. For one, money management is usually not a priority, so such a person sets no financial goal for the present or the future. This can lead to all sorts of problems, from issues with stability to debt to even relationship troubles.

Should a man help his girlfriend financially?

Yes, if it is within his power. People in relationships should be able to have their partner’s backs, even without being told. It’s simple; when you love someone, helping them get out of a bind comes naturally to you. Girlfriends should, however, not take advantage and become solely dependent on their man because of this.

What do you do when your partner is financially irresponsible?

Like most problems couples face, irresponsibility with money in some cases isn’t beyond something you can tackle with communication. After talking to your partner about how their financial habits affect you, you can come up with a plan together or seek professional help. In the meantime, you can take the reins on finances.

Who should pay for things in a relationship?

A general rule of thumb used to be that whoever takes the other out pays. However, ideally, you should always offer to pay at least your part of the bills, even if you didn’t initiate the date. Some couples also decide to take turns to foot bills, so it ultimately depends on your understanding with your partner.

The Bottom Line

That they call everyone adults once they clock a certain age doesn’t mean we all mature the same way. A financially irresponsible dude might be a catch in every other way, so always make sure to be on the lookout for the above red flags before you commit fully. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine. If you enjoyed this post, kindly leave a comment and share it as well. Thanks.

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Sonya Schwartz
A hopeless romantic that struggled for many years to find her Mr "Right" and made all the mistakes you could think of while dating. Known for always choosing the wrong guys or messing up relationships, Sonya was finally able to change her approach and mindset when it came to dating which helped her eventually find the man of her dreams and become happily married. You can read more about me here...

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