Relationships are full of meaningful milestones, from the first kiss, to the first time you say "I love you," to the first time you pee with the door open. (Admittedly, some are more meaningful than others.) Another big milestone comes when you’re ready to combine your finances. Money is no joke, and aligning your budget and expenses with your partner is something that should be considered thoughtfully. Because even though your partner might mean well, keeping an eye out for the red flags you shouldn’t share money with your partner could very well save your bank account and your credit score.
Sharing money with your significant other is more than just splitting the bill when you eat out. Joining your finances together is a big step, and as such, it means that you see a future with your partner far beyond what you want to do that weekend. "As a couple, sharing money comes long after sharing a toothbrush," online dating expert Julie Spira previously told Elite Daily. "It’s really a big deal, because it shows you’re on the path to a deeper commitment, such as sharing the rest of your lives together."
And while the idea of sharing a future can be exciting, it should also be entered into carefully. Everyone has a financial history, and in order to keep yours in check, make sure your partner’s monetary goals and spending habits are in line with yours. Here’s what to consider a red flag.
1. Your Partner Is Secretive About Their Debt.
When you share money with someone, you might also take on their debt, so if your partner hasn’t been up-front about any loans or credit card debt, it might be time to start a conversation. "When a partner laughs off this topic, or claims it’s not important enough to think about or discuss, beware!" relationship expert April Masini tells Elite Daily.
"Debt is a big deal in relationships because one person’s debt will affect a partner’s ability to finance future purchases with that person," she continues. "If this is your partner, require disclosure and accountability, and keep money separate until you’re both on the same page. Don’t jump into sharing money until your partner becomes more responsible." This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t share money with your partner if they have student loans. According to NBC News, one in five adult Americans carry student loan debt. It’s an extremely common and often necessary debt. But if your partner is dishonest about the amount of debt they’re in, don’t be afraid to ask them why.
2. They Spend More Money Than They Earn.
If your significant other is constantly spending money left and right, "but is always getting disconnection notices, second warning bills and doesn’t open their mail," that’s a major red flag, Masini says. "This is a warning sign that your partner is spending more than they are earning." Habits like those don’t make good, financial sense, and if the two of you start to share money, you could get dragged into the mess. "This is how they will get into financial trouble — and drag you and your resources down with them," Masini adds.
Talk to your partner about improving their spending habits before you decide to share money, Masini says.
3. They’re Covering The Costs For Someone Else.
While it’s lovely to see a significant other help finance the life of someone they care about, "that big heart better have a wallet that is just as big," Masini warns. "If your partner is doing so to be generous, but really doesn’t have the income to do so," take note. "Someone who wants to be a benefactor, but can’t afford to be one, shouldn’t. When they are, this is a red flag."
Remember: Every situation is different. If your partner has an ailing parent who needs 24/7 medical care, and they are their primary care provider, try to be as understanding as possible. It can’t be easy for your partner to carry that financial responsibility, either. Nevertheless, you can still be supportive and helpful while still keeping your own assets secure.
4. Your Partner Isn’t Currently Working.
Supporting your partner when they lose their job (or anytime they go through a rough patch) is part of being in a loving relationship, but that doesn’t necessarily mean joining your finances. "If your partner is unemployed and not actively searching for a job, they may see you as a soft landing for a hard financial problem they’ve been facing," Masini says. "If you’re both okay with this, thumbs up from me — but if you’re not, it’s better to wait until your partner is gainfully employed before you start sharing money and financial resources."
Again, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t financially support your partner if they’re unemployed. By all means, if you’re willing and able to help them through it, do! But be mindful of how much help you’re providing and what their plans for employment look like. You don’t want to be taken advantage of, either.
"If you see these signs, don’t share money," Masini says, stressing that "you can have a nice relationship with separate money." Keeping your bank accounts and bills separate doesn’t mean that you won’t love, support, and help your partner when they need you to. It just means you’re doing everything you can to guarantee a comfortable, financially smart future for yourself. (And perhaps, for yourself and your partner if you do decide to share money later on in the future.)
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