What Are Financial Red Flags In A Relationship? 11 Signs Your Partner's Spending Habits Are Worrisome (2023)


by Natalia Lusinski


Originally Published:

What Are Financial Red Flags In A Relationship? 11 Signs Your Partner's Spending Habits Are Worrisome (1)


While you and your significant other can be perfect for each other in 101 ways, it's still possible to be financially incompatible with your partner. Not everyone is a money whiz, and that's OK. But ongoing problems can quickly put a strain on your relationship, and even lead to problems down the road. So how bad is too bad, and how many problems are too many problems? Luckily, there are ways to find this out, and you don't need to hire a detective to do so.

According to Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka "Dr. Romance"), a psychotherapist and author of How to be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, it's possible for couples to commit "financial infidelity." This happens when "they haven't established good communication, they're trying to avoid conflict, or they're out of control and don't want to admit it," she tells Bustle.

Ongoing financial problems can be a sign your partner isn't prioritizing you, Tessina says, and that they lack self control. "It can be every bit as harmful as sexual infidelity," she says, "even if most people don't take it as seriously." Here are relationship money red flags to watch out for, because the sooner you start to spot them, the better.


They're Secretive About Where Their Money Goes

Maybe you find a receipt, or several, for a purchase your significant other made, and they get defensive when you bring it up. Normally, you wouldn't care, but you're both saving up for a big trip, and this purchase put a dent in the fund.

The problem here isn't so much that your partner spent money without telling you; it's that they snuck money out of a joint savings account and then lied about it, as neither bodes well for the future.

Out-of-control spending, lying, and hiding finances can destroy a relationship, Tessina says, so this is an issue you'll want to work on, possibly by attending counseling together.

(Video) What financial red flags should I look out for in a relationship?


They Hide Their Debt From You

So many people have student loan debt, and that in and of itself is not a problem. It's only a red flag if your partner lies about having debt or downplays how much they have, especially if you plan to get married, as it will then become your debt.

In that case, the debt, as well as the lying, becomes the issue, Tessina says, and it can even be a sign your partner is in denial. In this situation, she recommends seeking debt counseling and/or relationship counseling to begin fixing the debt — and to save your marriage.


They Have A Credit Card Problem

Another story: I know someone whose partner became addicted to credit cards, so much so that her compulsive shopping habit started to take precedence over their kids' needs, like school supplies. He threatened to divorce her unless she cut up all her credit cards and got help from a financial advisor.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, know that it's a slippery slope. Before things get even more out of control, you may want to ask your partner to seek money management help, Tessina says, or to see a therapist in order to get to the root cause of their overspending.


They Can't Stick To A Budget

You may have been taught good money habits, but the same might not be true for your partner. So if they clearly aren't able to stick to a budget, find a time to talk about money, and see if it's something you can work on together.

It might be tricky at first, but "supporting each other while building a budget could help you reach your financial goals faster, and can even bring you closer together," Brianna McGurran, a student loans and personal finance expert at NerdWallet, tells Bustle.

One way to begin is by creating a 50/30/20 budget. "It suggests spending no more than 50 percent of your after-tax income on necessities, no more than 30 percent on wants, and at least 20 percent on savings and debt repayment," McGurran says. "If that sounds hard to achieve now, try making small changes at first, like negotiating down your cable bill."

(Video) 12 Early Signs A Relationship Won't Last


They Don't Pay Their Bills On Time

While everyone makes mistakes, and encounters the occasional money issue, take note if your partner consistently pays their bills late — and even more so if they don't seem to notice or care.

If you live together, this should be an even bigger red flag not only because it impacts you financially, but because it shows your partner isn't considering you, or how their bad habits affect the relationship.


They Have No Savings Or Investments

When you mention "401(k)" to your significant other, do they panic? Or, worse yet, ask you what that means? If they have no savings at all, and don't even mention investments, it's a cause for concern.

Their inability, or lack of desire, to save money could affect you one day, McGurran says, especially if you plan to move in together, or buy a house. So talk to them about building better money habits, which might include putting portion of their paychecks into a savings account, or asking their employer about contributing to a 401(k).


They Have Bad Credit

Does your partner cringe or change the subject when you ask what their credit score is? Although bad credit in and of itself does not have to be a dealbreaker, if your partner has a lot of other financial red flags, you may want to take this one more seriously.

"[It] could affect you if one day you want to rent a place or buy a house together and your partner's poor credit holds you back," McGurran says. So you may want to suggest a plan to help them pay off debts, and begin building their credit score. Money problems are, after all, something you can tackle together.

(Video) 10 Signs Your Partner Doesn’t Love You (Even If You Think They Do)


They Borrow Money From People A Lot

Again, it's OK if someone finds themselves in a bad spot, and they need to ask for money in order to get back on their feet. But your partner shouldn't be borrowing money from friends and family on a regular basis, especially if they aren't also making an effort to improve their position — possibly by getting a better job.

"Borrowing small sums of money often and not paying it back can illustrate a certain irresponsibility and dependence on others when it comes to finances, which can develop into a larger issues and serious debt," Zoe Coetzee, an in-house relationship psychologist and dating expert for EliteSingles, tells Bustle. "Financial boundaries should be respected in relationships, and continually overstepping this line is the sign of an issue."


They Try To Control Your Money

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you may be in a relationship with someone who is fiscally responsible, and they like to give you financial advice, too — i.e., how you should and shouldn't spend your money. But, it can become detrimental — and fast.

"Your partner should never use money as a means of power," Coetzee says. "Controlling your access to finances or information about your joint finances is a danger sign in a relationship." Withholding access to credit cards, giving you an "allowance," or saying you aren't allowed to work are all signs of financial abuse, so don't take this lightly.

(Video) 9 Signs Your Partner Doesn't Respect You | Mel Robbins


They Don't Want To Talk About Money — Ever

Of course, you know that "communication is key," whether it's regarding relationships, an issue you're having at work, or, in this case, money. So if, whenever you broach the subject of money and your significant other backs off, consider it a red flag.

In this instance, Tessina recommends continuing to try talking about money with your partner. "No matter how well or poorly your finances are going at any given time, keep your financial discussions going," she says. "The more frequently you discuss your finances, the less difficult the discussions will be, and the more likely that you'll make good financial choices."

Hopefully, over time, they'll be able to open up, and you'll have a healthier financial life as a result. But if not, it may mean they're hiding something, aren't mature in their approach to money, or that they aren't taking your relationship seriously.


Their Money Values Don't Align With Yours

Perhaps you and your partner have tried to come to a mutual understanding about money, and the way you each spend and save it, but nothing works. While figuring out a budget can take time, don't ignore years of ongoing financial disagreements.

In fact, "if a couple has different spending habits and values, this can be a relationship dealbreaker," Coetzee says. "Should a couple have differing financial approaches and values, it can be difficult to reconcile in their joint decisions of lifestyle and everyday expenses, especially if living together." And it may not be something you'll be able to fix.

Financial issues cause major divides in relationships, so it's important to look out for money-related red flags, and talk about them ASAP. The issues listed above will provide a great conversation starter to make talking about money easier. Because the less you have to worry about money and money matters with your partner, the better.


Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of How to be Happy Partners: Working it out Together

Zoe Coetzee, in-house relationship psychologist and dating expert for EliteSingles

Brianna McGurran, student loans and personal finance expert at NerdWallet

(Video) The EARLY WARNING SIGNS You're Dating A Narcissist & How They FOOL YOU! | Dr. Ramani

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Is spending too much money a red flag? ›

Flaunting their wealth. If someone is showy with their money, it could stem from insecurity. They might also be spending beyond their means. "Lavish spending is a big red flag when they're clearly spending more than their income allows," said Sarah Schweisthal, a personal finance pro at YNAB.

What are 3 common roadblocks with financial management that threaten marriage relationships? ›

Money issues such as excessive debt, one-sided spending, and financial imbalances can cause tension and resentment between you and your spouse. But when you recognize the signs of a problem early, there are things you can do to address them before they cause irreparable damage to your relationship.

What are negative financial behaviors in a relationship? ›

Relationships are vulnerable to cheating, be it physical, emotional, or financial. Yes, hiding one of your bank accounts from your partner or an outstanding loan also counts as cheating and can feel as hurtful and have similar consequences as infidelity would.

How do you know if a man is using you for money? ›

It's one of the clear signs he is taking advantage of you financially. Eye on your bank balance: One of the most telling signs a man is using you for money is that he keeps a keen interest in your bank balance. Early on in the relationship, he'd begin enquiring about your salary, savings, assets, and net worth.

What is considered excessive spending? ›

Overspending can be defined as spending beyond one's means, possibly due to a sudden event, like a job loss, or a slow evolution of financial behaviors.

What is considered spending too much money? ›

The 50/30/20 rule is a general benchmark for determining whether or not you're spending too much. According to this rule, 50% of your spending should be for your necessities in the bills and life category, like rent, food, transportation, health care, utilities, and student loan payments.

What is financial infidelity in a marriage? ›

Financial infidelity occurs when couples lie to each other about money matters. It can include things like hiding debt, hiding big purchases, and lying about income. Financial infidelity can drastically affect trust between partners and the financial stability of the relationship.

What are the top 5 conflict problems for couples? ›

The Top 5 Conflicts Every Married Couple Faces
  • Finances. Money is one of the most common issues married couples fight about. ...
  • Intimacy. Sex is yet another common disagreement between spouses. ...
  • Careers. ...
  • Kids. ...
  • Chores. ...
  • How to Handle Common Marital Conflicts.
Aug 4, 2021

What are financial threats examples? ›

These include loss of investment assets, theft or damage to assets you own, asset values depreciating or depreciating in value, insufficient savings to continue investing, and others.

What are two possible signs of financial abuse? ›

A person who maxes out their partner's credit card and refuses to make payments ruins that person's credit and ability to find housing, purchase a vehicle, or obtain student loans.

What does an unhealthy relationship with money look like? ›

Toxic relationships with money are typically associated with big or frequent spenders. However, this is not always the case. Overanalysing what you spend each month, along with the habits of those around you, could be a sign that you are fearful of spending.

What are 3 unhealthy behaviors in a relationship? ›

Lying, cheating, jealousy, and disrespect are signs of an unhealthy relationship. So is trying to control a partner.

How do you know if someone is just using you for money? ›

For instance, they may ask you to lend them money or pay their bills. The person imposes on you without consideration for your availability or preferences. For instance, they may move in with you unexpectedly or want to borrow your car at a moment's notice. The person expects you to take care of their needs.

How to tell if someone is taking advantage of you financially? ›

4 Warning Signs Someone Is Taking Advantage of You Financially
  1. They Make Assumptions About Your Income or Finances. ...
  2. They Use Your Success to Guilt You. ...
  3. They Feel Entitled to a One-Way Financial Street. ...
  4. Your Loved Ones Are Leery of This New Person in Your Life.
Nov 16, 2022

What makes a man spend money on a woman? ›

Most men spend on ladies to impress them and ward off competition from other men. Research by psychologist Prof. Daniel Kruger of Michigan University linked the high spending habits of men with how many women they sleep with.

What are the symptoms of spending problems? ›

5 Signs You Have a Spending Problem
  • You're Making Impulse Purchases.
  • You're Maxing Out Your Credit Cards.
  • You Can't Afford to Pay Your Bills in Full.
  • Your Credit Score Decreased.
  • You Don't Save Money.
  • How Budgeting Can Help You Avoid Overspending.
Jul 22, 2022

What is the 10 spending rule? ›

For every bump in pay, bonus, or unexpected money that you receive: 10% of the money goes towards lifestyle creep and the other 90% goes towards building wealth.

What are 3 consequences of overspending? ›

What are the effects of overspending? Overspending can lead to financial stress, taking on high-interest credit card or personal loan debt, and other problems such as not being able to pay all monthly bills or save for other, longer-term financial goals.

Is overspending a mental disorder? ›

For some, overspending becomes buying-shopping disorder, or compulsive shopping disorder (CSD), which is characterized by repetitive, uncontrollable spending that causes serious life difficulties.

What is the psychology behind overspending? ›

Overspending can happen for different reasons, such as: You might spend to make yourself feel better. Some people describe this as feeling like a temporary high. If you experience symptoms like mania or hypomania, you might spend more money or make impulsive financial decisions.

What is the 1 spending rule? ›

Luckily, the 1% spending rule is simple and goes like this - when you want to buy something that exceeds 1% of your annual gross income, you have to wait one day before buying it. This rule also applies when you're spending money on items you don't need.

What is Microcheating? ›

Micro cheating refers to acts of seemingly trivial, inappropriate behaviors that occur outside of one's devoted relationship, often done unintentionally.

What is financially cheating? ›

Financial infidelity is spending money, possessing credit or credit cards, holding secret accounts or stashes of money, borrowing money, or otherwise incurring debt, without the knowledge of one's spouse, partner, or significant other. It includes any decisions that affect the financial plan in the relationship.

What is lying about finances in a relationship? ›

Financial infidelity is a term used for when someone lies to their partner about their shared money. Here are a few examples of financial infidelity: Keeping a secret bank account. Lying about how much you make.

What is the number one killer of marriages? ›

Contempt is the worst of the four horsemen. It is the most destructive negative behavior in relationships. In Dr. John Gottman's four decades of research, he has found it to be the number one predictor of divorce.

What is the number one problem for couples? ›

1. Money. Of all the common marital problems, it's no surprise that money is at the root more often than not. Money is essential to funding our lives, and if there isn't enough to take care of what we need, it creates an incredible amount of stress for everyone involved.

How often do couples in their 40s make love? ›

Once a week is a common baseline, experts say. That statistic depends slightly on age: 40- and 50-year-olds tend to fall around that baseline, while 20- to 30-year olds tend to average around twice a week.

What are 3 examples of financial abuse? ›

Examples of financial abuse
  • Restricting the victim's access to money or their bank account.
  • Opening fraudulent and coerced bank accounts that could leave the victim with significant debt in the future.
  • Taking sole control of the family's income against the other person's wishes.

What are 5 example of financial abuse? ›

Destroying, damaging or stealing property. Racking up debt on shared accounts or joint credit cards. Withholding financial support like child support payments. Refusing to work or contribute anything to the household income.

What is a real life example of financial abuse? ›

Borrowing money and not giving it back. Stealing money or belongings. Taking pension payments or other benefit away from someone. Taking money as payment for coming to visit or spending time together.

What is narcissistic financial abuse? ›

Financial abuse by a narcissist during divorce is a common tactic used to gain power and control over a spouse. The abuser uses his or her financial resources and savvy to manipulate the husband or wife and keep him or her in a state of dependence.

What are 4 signs of financial exploitation? ›

Warning signs of financial exploitation
  • Sudden changes in bank accounts or banking practices, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the older adult.
  • The inclusion of additional names on an older adult's bank signature card.

What are the red flags of financial abuse? ›

Unusual activity in a person's bank accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals. ATM withdrawals by an older person who has never used a debit or ATM card. Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts your loved one cannot explain.

What are bad money habits? ›

Run up high-interest credit card debt. Give you a false sense of how much money you've got available to spend. Steer cash away from your emergency fund. Siphon money away from your retirement savings.

What is toxic money mindset? ›

Toxic money habits are more about bad financial behavior rather than your literal money. Toxic habits come in many forms, but the most common are: lying about how much money you have, shopping away your feelings via retail therapy, and relying on credit cards rather than cash in hand.

What is abnormal love for money? ›

Someone who is avaricious is greedy or grasping, concerned with gaining wealth.

What are 5 signs of danger in a relationship? ›

Recognizing the signs of unhealthy relationships
  • Control. One person makes all the decisions and tells the other what to do, what to wear, or who to spend time with. ...
  • Dependence. ...
  • Digital monitoring or “clocking”. ...
  • Dishonesty. ...
  • Disrespect. ...
  • Hostility. ...
  • Harassment. ...
  • Intimidation.

What are 7 signs of an unhealthy relationship? ›

  • 10 Signs of unhealthy/abusive behaviour. Whilst all relationships have their ups and downs, an unhealthy relationship is one where a partner or close family member shows behaviour that is disrespectful, controlling or even violent. ...
  • Obsessive behaviour. ...
  • Possessiveness. ...
  • Manipulation. ...
  • Guilting. ...
  • Belittling. ...
  • Sabotage. ...
  • Isolation.

What is stonewalling in a relationship? ›

What does it mean to stonewall someone? In simple terms, stonewalling is when someone completely shuts down in a conversation or is refusing to communicate with another person.

How do you tell if you are being used in a relationship? ›

9 signs someone is using you in a relationship
  • The conversation is always about them. ...
  • They always let you pick up the check. ...
  • You always have to come to their rescue. ...
  • They never say thank you. ...
  • They're always asking for favors. ...
  • You start to resent them. ...
  • Your emotional needs are never considered, let alone met.
Nov 1, 2018

How to know if you are being taken advantage of in a relationship? ›

If they only allow you to hang out when they are available or at places that are only convenient for them, those are red flags. Beware if they ignore you when you want to make plans or are constantly making excusing when you ask to spend time with them. Relationships need to remain focused on give and take.

How do you know if someone is being real with you? ›

Genuine people know who they are. They are confident enough to be comfortable in their own skin. They are firmly grounded in reality, and they're truly present in each moment because they're not trying to figure out someone else's agenda or worrying about their own.

What is a financial bully? ›

In the case of financial bullying, a person holds power and control; he/ she intimidates over another person regarding the money matters. Mostly it happens in a relationship; it can be a marriage, a live-in relation, or any other personal relationship.

How do you know if you're financially compatible with your partner? ›

Financially compatible couples share similar financial goals and can agree to similar spending habits that will allow them to achieve those goals.

What kind of person takes advantage of others? ›

An exploiter is a user, someone who takes advantage of other people or things for their own gain.

What does a man want most from a woman? ›

Both men and women consistently cite emotional stability and maturity as one of the most attractive traits in a potential spouse. While men often fall victim to the stereotype of prioritizing physical attraction, when it comes to a potential wife, they want a woman who is grounded and secure in herself.

What a man loves most in a woman? ›

Men love women who are thoughtful, caring, loving and kind. A woman who does little things for her man for no other reason other than that she loves him. A woman who makes him smile back whenever she smiles at him. A woman who radiates love and warmth from her heart.

How do you tell if a man is using you financially? ›

Some Signs A Man Is Using You For Money
  1. Frequently Borrowing Money From You. ...
  2. Always Interested About How Much You Earn. ...
  3. Spends Your Money Extravagantly. ...
  4. Takes Up The Bills First And Then Stops. ...
  5. Frequently Discussing His Financial Difficulties. ...
  6. Uninterested In Your Needs. ...
  7. Leaves You With All The Bills. ...
  8. Emotionally Unavailable.
Nov 17, 2022

What are examples of financial red flags? ›

Identifying Red Flags in the Financial Analysis of a Company.
  • Revenues that have been decreasing consistently over time.
  • A D/E ratio that is consistently increasing.
  • Cash flows that are volatile.
  • Extreme fluctuations in the market price of shares.
  • Any lawsuit against the company that is still pending resolution.
Apr 7, 2022

What is a financial red flag? ›

A red flag is a warning or indicator, suggesting that there is a potential problem or threat with a company's stock, financial statements, or news reports. Red flags may be any undesirable characteristic that stands out to an analyst or investor.

Why do I worry about spending money? ›

There are many reasons why spending might cause you anxiety. If you grew up experiencing financial hardships, you may feel the sting of remembered trauma. Spending can deplete your assets and make you more vulnerable to everything from momentary deprivation to eviction or bankruptcy—and that can make you anxious.

What are rules red flags? ›

The Red Flags Rule requires that each "financial institution" or "creditor"—which includes most securities firms—implement a written program to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft in connection with the opening or maintenance of "covered accounts." These include consumer accounts that permit multiple payments ...

Which of the following behaviors are common red flags for money laundering activity? ›

Red flag 1 | The client is overly secret or evasive about key details such as their identity, the source of their money, the beneficial owner, or the reason for choosing a particular payment method.

How do you protect yourself financially in a relationship? ›

Financial agreement or prenup

If you have assets you want to protect, such as property or super, you can ask your partner to sign a binding financial agreement. This is also known as a prenup. A financial agreement sets out how your assets and money are divided if your relationship breaks down.

How do you know if someone is financially irresponsible? ›

How to Tell if Someone is Financially Irresponsible
  1. They Have Not Invested Their Money. ...
  2. They Live Above Their Means. ...
  3. They Have Unnecessary Debt. ...
  4. They Have No Insurance. ...
  5. They Have Little to No Emergency Savings. ...
  6. They Use Their Emergency Fund for Non-Emergencies. ...
  7. They Have No Budget. ...
  8. They Often Exceed their Budget.
Jul 22, 2022

Is it OK to be financially dependent on your partner? ›

While being financially dependent in a relationship isn't always a bad thing or a guarantee that the less wealthy partner will end up destitute, it is a risky proposition. Not having financial independence can be prohibitive in many ways, especially should you want to leave the relationship.

What is the mental disorder of spending money? ›

Compulsive buying disorder (CBD), or oniomania (from Greek ὤνιος ṓnios 'for sale' and μανία manía 'insanity'), is characterized by an obsession with shopping and buying behavior that causes adverse consequences.

What causes excessive spending? ›

Reasons Behind Compulsive Shopping

Most causes for compulsive shopping are psychological. Generally, a person will be having emotions of loneliness, depression, feel out of control in a particular area, and seek to spend money in order to relieve the stress.


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