It’s hard enough to keep a relationship healthy in our busy modern world where constant demands on our time can sap the fun out of almost anything. It is in that challenging environment that couples have to manage the daily struggles of work and life.
One area of conflict that’s probably responsible for the breakup of more relationships than any other single factor is money. When money gets tight it can generate an insidious type of stress in relationships. Financial trouble is a peculiar type of nag that’s constant and unrelenting. The best way to avoid relationship problems related to money is simply avoiding them in the first place. Here are the most common relationship financial red flags and how to avoid them.
Your Significant Other Has a Mountain of Debt
One word: Run. Seriously, run and don’t look back. Everyone in debt has a sob story about how they got there. It’s usually a previous relationship or a double-dealing relative; after a while the stories all sound the same. Here’s what’s going to happen; you’re not going to fix your SO’s financial life, they will drag yours down. Depending on the state you’re in, you might end up taking on some of your partner’s debts in a divorce. To get money for anything like student loans or a mortgage, you’ll have to cosign for your partner and you’ll definitely be on the hook for that debt.
If he or she means that much to you, then put your foot down and insist that they come up with a plan for fixing their financial woes and stick to it for at least a year before your relationship goes any farther. What you’ll discover is most will be able to stick to the plan for about a month and then their commitment to change will break down. That’s when you’ll have your answer.
A Significant Other Who Can’t Control Their Spending
Even if your SO doesn’t have a mountain debt, they could still have a spending problem. Whether it’s the latest video game, a hot concert ticket or some other distraction, if your partner can’t control their spending, you’ll never be able to save up money for an emergency fund and investments. Not only will they be living paycheck to paycheck, but they’ll be constantly pressuring you to do the same. A partner with a constant urge to splurge will nag at you during moments of weakness.
Different Ideas About Housing
One of you wants a 3-2 in the suburbs and the other a one bedroom apartment in the city. One of you wants to spend a combined 40 percent of your disposable income on a mortgage payment and the other is more comfortable with less space. Owner-occupied housing is a dismal investment and the less money you can spend on it the farther ahead you are financially.
Your Partner Is Chronically Late Paying Bills
Even if they don’t spend extravagantly or constantly lobby for a bigger house, your partner can still put you behind the financial eight ball by constantly being late or forgetting payments. Those little notices from the doctor’s office that get lost in a pile of papers can end up as a ding on your credit report. The interest and penalties may not add up to a lot of money but it is, literally, like throwing money in the trash can.
Over time the stresses and strains from an incompatible financial life can add up. Going into a relationship thinking you can fix another person’s fiscal woes is a guaranteed loser. By becoming their financial crutch you become the enabler of even more fiscal bad behavior and endanger your own good name. One of the first things you learn in firefighter school is that fifty percent of casualties are rescuers. Make sure you’re not a casualty in someone else’s financial life.