Debt – Does it matter in a relationship?
You’ve met the person of your dreams. You’ve fallen madly in love. You feel like they are your other half and the two of you go together like peanut butter and jelly. In your eyes, this person is “perfect”. There’s just one teensy, weensy thing – there’s a little rumor going around that your significant other has some serious debt baggage.
Can you deal? Or maybe the more appropriate question is – how should you deal?
There’s no doubt that it’s awkward to ask someone about their financial situation on the third or fourth date, but I’m a firm believer that if you’re open and honest from the get-go, you can avoid nasty surprises down the line. Full transparency often makes for stronger relationships.
For many couples, money topics rank high amongst most arguments. That’s why it’s so important that you and your partner share the same attitudes toward managing money. If not, it could spell big trouble later on. If you’re not comfortable chatting about finances with your new love, maybe start by observing a few clues.
Now I’m not saying to go judge a book by its cover, but it is important to protect yourself and figure out what kind of money mentality your special someone has. Here are few red flags to watch out for.
Do they have an ignorance is bliss attitude?
Some people are not comfortable with the subject of money and/or have done little to no financial planning at all. They may not be interested in doing it or just don’t want the added “stress” of dealing with financial matters. In fact, many people who have this attitude don’t even know how much is in their bank account!
This is very dangerous. If your honey doesn’t know or care where he/she stands, there’s a pretty good chance that they may not be financially healthy. No one is saying you need to pull out your suite of budgeting tools every time you buy something, but pay attention when your partner talks about making large purchases or future plans. Do they have a strategy to achieve their goals/wants? Will they make adjustments to earn or save more money in order to get it? This will help shed some light on how they manage their finances.
Do they have a money-is-no-object approach?
Splurging on something nice every now and then may be ok, but does the person have the income to match their expenses? Someone might have a great job that pays well, but if the money needs to go towards student loans, rent, car payments, and other debt, there may not be a whole lot of wiggle room left for indulgences.
On the other hand, if your significant other looks wealthy (i.e. fancy car, designer duds, luxury vacations) but doesn’t have the job to back it up, you might question whether he/she is heir to a ginormous fortune or just racking up an insane amount of debt!
Do their credit cards get denied all the time?
Of course technological blips happen every now and then, which may lead to credit cards getting denied. However, if this happens on a regular basis, you’ve got a problem. Someone who consistently pays their bills on time will be shocked if their credit card doesn’t go through. They’ll most likely want to try the swipe again. On the other hand, a person who knows they are carrying debt, and have maxed out their credit cards before, might just casually pull out another one.
If you’re dating someone who falls under any of these categories, it could be a sign of financial trouble. While money and finances aren’t everything in a relationship, I would argue that it’s definitely up there in the top 5 things to consider (when weighing out a potential partner). You need to know what’s going on with the other person and be on the same page about money matters.
Always know what you’re getting into. You’ll be better situated to protect yourself…against damaging your own financial health!