“Love is all you need.”
Or is it?
What about when love isn’t paying the bills? What happens when someone we’re romantically involved with is bad with money?
Do you stay or do you go? I suspect the answer depends in part whether you are dating or whether you are married. The other part of the equation is how much money really matters when it comes to relationships.
Money and Divorce – The Stats
Money is the number one problem in marriages and the number one cause of divorce. This is worth repeating: Money is the number one problem in marriages and the number one cause of divorce.
According to one study, couples that argued early in their relationships (regardless of income, debt, etc.) were more likely to divorce. Could it be that getting on the same page about money is the key to marital bliss?
That may be taking it too far, but to say that money doesn’t matter at all is naïve. So, where do you find the balance?
Proceeding With Caution
While it may be too far to write someone off who is bad with money, it may be a major red flag if you are with someone who is terrible with money. After all, if you are getting yourself on track financially, wouldn’t it be against your values to be with someone who is bad with money? Furthermore, your finances are merely a reflection of you. How you do anything is how you do everything. So, if your significant other is a financial mess, it’s almost guaranteed that other areas of his life are a mess, too.
Perhaps the best way to proceed is with caution, bringing up money in a positive light and in a way that shows how it is important to you.
Tips To Know Whether to Go Forward in the Relationship
If you really love someone who is bad with money and don’t know what to do, use these tips.
- Be honest with yourself. Money is important. It’s a big part of life. Don’t downplay or minimize this fact.
- Ask yourself whether you would be friends with this person if you weren’t dating. You shouldn’t fall in love with someone you wouldn’t be friends with. If you wouldn’t be friends with your significant other, that is a good sign that you are headed in the wrong direction romantically.
- Talk with your significant other about your own money mistakes and money blueprint. You may be surprised to find that he will want to know how you changed and are so good with money now. When you talk about your own money mistakes, it opens the door for a conversation as opposed to you lecturing and coming off as better than the other person.
- Try to find out the whole story with your significant other. Pay attention to how he behaves with money. It may be that the bad credit score he has is not an accurate reflection of his money habits. Ask yourself questions like this: Does he overspend? Does he save? Does he over-tip? Does he have a lot of debt? Is he always waiting for payday? Is he motivated? Does he gamble or bet when he complains about being broke?
If You Marry Someone Who Is Bad With Money
If you do go ahead and marry someone who is bad with money, aside from working on the actual issue, you need to know what it means for you. Any property acquired after you are married is joint property. So, your assets and debts belong to both of you if acquired after you are married. You still maintain your individual credit report and credit score, but that report and score can be affected by your spouse’s decisions. Your personal credit score does not drop simply because you marry someone who has a bad score or who is bad with money. Your score is only affected by what is on your own credit report.
However, if you open a joint account/loan of any kind with your spouse, his score will affect your approval and/or rates. For example, if you want to get a house together you may not be approved for as favorable of a loan compared to if you applied for it by yourself. Further, on joint accounts, both of you are responsible for making payments. So, if you have a joint credit card and your husband racks up charges, you are held responsible for the payments.
The best thing to do to protect yourself if you have a partner or spouse who is bad with money is to keep your finances separate (no joint accounts / loans together). Also, make sure to get your credit reports and scores annually so you know exactly where you stand financially.