If your relationship shows signs you need to protect your money from your partner, you’re not alone.
According to a SunTrust survey, 35% of people in relationships who experience stress in their relationships blame finances.
Another study by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysis found money issues are the third leading cause (22%) of all divorces.
Money touches every aspect of our lives, so this data shouldn’t come as a surprise.
But when we’re in the thick of a relationship, it’s easy to get caught in the moment and lose ourselves.
Without getting into the nitty-gritty of legalities, here are tips on how to be proactive and protect your finances.
Start with spotting the following red flags.
#1 Your Partner Refuses to Talk Finances
When people say “communication is key” in relationships, it especially applies to finances.
If you experience silence, backing off, or defensiveness when bringing up money matters, consider it a sign you need to protect your money from your partner.
Kim R. found this to be true. Not only would her partner refuse to talk about money, he’d react strongly to her requests to discuss it.
“If you try to have a discussion about money and they say you’re overreacting or crazy– well, those are red flags,” she shares.
There could be a number of reasons why having open conversations are challenging. It could be shame attached to their financial state or maybe a ploy to be in control.
Regardless, it’s important for financial and emotional health to keep the conversation about money open.
Whether it’s the act of hiding something or a matter of maturity, transparency is crucial to having a trusting and lasting relationship.
Should your honey continue to withhold how much he makes or is in debt but won’t talk about it, other measures like counseling may be needed.
Or, you may just need to reevaluate the relationship.
#2 Your Partner Lies about Money
Ok, so maybe there is communication about money in your relationship…
But if not based in truth, it’s a sign you need to protect your money from your partner.
Finding a receipt for a major purchase when you’ve agreed to save for a trip.
Catching your partner red-handed making account withdrawals.
Wondering how your partner can afford new clothes or that giant TV?
It’s shifty behavior.
According to a 2020 CreditCards.com survey, “44% of those surveyed are hiding a checking, savings or credit card account from their partner, have secret debt, or are spending more than their partner would think was OK.”
The survey also found millennials are more likely than Gen Xers and boomers to have committed financial infidelity.
57% of millennials have committed financial infidelity with their current partner, compared to 45% of Gen Xers and 37% of boomers.
If you know or think your partner is lying about money and you share a bank account or live together, it’s time to have a tough conversation.
Especially if debt and lying about it are the issue.
This is a big one because the debt itself and then the act of keeping it secret are issues that do not bode well for the future of your relationship.
Not only does the debt hinder your financial life together and prevent you from building wealth, but the lying also tears away at the foundation of honesty appreciated in a relationship.
If your partner is willing, consider debt counseling and/or couple’s therapy to see if you can work out the issues.
#3 Your Partner Won’t Stop Spending
Out-of-control spending that isn’t acknowledged or seen as a problem can be seriously detrimental to a relationship.
Jasmine M. remembers when her ex would excessively spend money in order to preserve the appearance of being well-off while the reality was far from this.
“He would do things like buy a Rolex and say ‘don’t worry about it’ or get a BMW or make me get a BMW because he didn’t think I was driving a nice enough car. “
If this situation sounds familiar, know that it’s a sign you need to protect your money from your partner.
“I’d say, keep an eye out for people who tend to showboat; those who spend money in front of others,” shares Kim R. when talking about her last relationship.
“Paying for rounds of drinks, making donations, spending money to impress others—those are very big red flags,” says Kim. “Especially if you know that it’s very wasteful spending.”
If you truly love your partner and can see a future with him, there is a chance to improve the situation before things spiral even more out of control.
Get help. Ask your partner to seek money management help or to see a therapist and get to the root cause of the overspending.
If you don’t see a future with your partner…Ladies, it’s time to move on. Now.
#4 Your Partner Constantly Borrows Money
We can all find ourselves in a bad spot financially from time to time. And there’s nothing wrong with asking for help to get out of a financial bind.
But on a regular basis? Not OK.
If your partner is always asking you or someone else to borrow money, it could be a sign that you need to protect your money.
This is especially true if your partner isn’t taking strides to improve their financial situation (like getting a better job, starting a side hustle, working to save, etc.).
The pattern of borrowing small sums of money, promising payback and then not, highlights an irresponsible and dependent behavior.
This can mushroom into bigger issues, including larger debt.
In partnerships, there should be financial boundaries that are respected.
If you’re with someone who oversteps them, the drawbacks include sapping you financially, as well as straining you emotionally.
“Many times in order to pay the mortgage, my ex husband would ask my step father for more money for his business,” shares Jasmine. “He had to borrow money frequently, moving money back and forth between business and personal accounts regularly, which became a problem obviously when we divorced.”
#5 Your Partner Gets Money Moody
Whether it’s sulking, getting defensive, or being just plain mean, having a negative emotional reaction to financial matters is a sign you need to protect your money from your partner
It’s true, money can bring out an ugly side in people.
It is often connected with deep-seated issues of control, guilt, or shame that can create an unfavorable power dynamic.
Jasmine recalls this in her former relationship. “He owned a struggling business and every time the mortgage came it was extremely stressful. But, if I asked any questions, he got really defensive . So, I stopped asking questions.
“I wasn’t really able to do much except freak out internally whenever money was an issue which was all the time. I just kinda had to shut up about it if I wanted to keep the peace in the household.”
One way to address the reason for emotional triggers regarding money is to take note of how relationships were modeled.
How did each of your parents or caretakers handle money? What kinds of messages did you grow up with?
Being able to look at these patterns together, or under the guidance of a therapist, can help.
However, if your partner is unwilling to admit there’s a problem or refuses to work on correcting his/her behavior, it’s time to step back and assess the relationship.
“He was definitely moody when there were money issues,” Jasmine shares. “He didn’t like to talk about it and wanted to seem in control all the time. I didn’t have any solutions for this. I just got divorced.”
If you decide you want to stick it out, then do what you can to protect your money and your financial future.
#6 Your Partner Has a Gambling Problem
Described as the hidden addiction, gambling is a behavior that can be devastating to a relationship.
Not only is there an emotional impact of trust breakdown, but financially, it’s a problem. A big one.
The first step is to assess the situation.
How much money has been lost? Were the debts belonging only to your partner, or were joint funds used?
Secondly, take steps needed to protect your money as soon as possible. You can’t help your partner if you don’t take care of yourself first.
Third, get help.
Being open about gambling problems is emotionally challenging.
It may take time to come clean. Fear of rejection may impede your partner from admitting to the complete truth.
Gambling is a powerful addition, and you and your partner are going to need expert help.
A good place to start is the National Council on Problem Gambling, which offers a ton of resources on gambling issues, state resources, etc.
Gam-Anon, an organization for spouses, family, or friends of compulsive gamblers, is also worth checking out for support and more information on the addiction.
It’s important to remember that, even if your gambling partner will not cooperate, you have a right to protect your money.
Here are some ways to protect your money from an out-of control gambling partner…
- Paying all bills on your own.
- Canceling overdrafts on bank accounts.
- Setting up a separate bank account.
- Removing your name from shared credit cards and bank accounts.
- Don’t share your passwords or PINs for credit cards, debit cards, or other personal accounts.
- Don’t leave credit cards or money lying around (or hide your purse).
#7 Your Partner Parties Too Much
There’s a difference between having a little too much fun every once in a while and partying like it’s the end of the world all the time.
It should be a giant red flag if your partner excessively parties, but has no money to help pay bills (or has to constantly borrow money to contribute).
Yes, that’s right…excessive partying is a sign that you need to protect your money from your partner.
Heather S. learned this the hard way. “My boyfriend and I started out just fine. We went out a lot. Bars, clubs, parties. It was fun for a while. That is, until months in, I got tired of it and he still kept going.
“It wasn’t long until I noticed I wasn’t saving as much as I once was and my bank balance was lower than normal. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was suffering financially because I was giving him money all the time or we’d be at a bar and he’d frequently ask me to get the check.
“Of course, he promised to pay me back, but I never saw a cent.”
Possible addiction issues aside, if your partner’s partying is taking its toll on your finances, it’s time to set some boundaries. Stop lending and protect your money.
If your partner decides to walk all over those boundaries, it may be time to get professional help or to rethink the relationship.
#8 You Think Your Partner Is Cheating
- Sexual cheating and financial infidelity often go hand in hand partly because your partner needs to hide expenses.
But it’s not always the case.
Sometimes it’s just plain-old financial infidelity.
For example, there is an alarming change in financial behavior. Or your partner is suddenly unwilling to share account information or changes account passwords without letting you know.
A shift in attitude regarding budget expectations or feelings around spending can also be a sign you need to protect your money from your partner.
The breakdown of trust can be shattering, and, while you may want to have it out with your potentially cheating partner, there’s good reason to keep emotions in check.
If your finances are entangled, it’s a good idea to tackle the situation in a practical way in order to protect your money.
To do this, have your finances accounted for, including assets.
Don’t stay in the dark. Educate yourself. Find out where the money is being spent and where debts have arisen.
Then, have an honest conversation with your partner.
Even if you don’t believe your marriage is headed for divorce, it’s still a good idea to consult experts.
An accountant or tax adviser, your financial planner, or an attorney can help you review finances and feel more secure about the next steps.
#9 Your Partner Has No Assets to Speak Of
If the mention of a 401(k) to your significant other is met with a blank stare or worse, panic, it’s worth taking note.
Despite working a number of years, the lack of savings or retirement plan could be a sign to protect your money from your partner.
An inability or lack of desire to save money could impact you, especially if you plan to commit financially to something like upgrading your car or buying a house.
Monica R. is aware of how her hubby falls short in meeting her financially.
“He comes from a family/culture where living day to day is the norm. He has never gotten used to paying himself first by setting aside money and doesn’t seem to think strategically about money ‒investing or saving for a big expense. This can be pretty stressful especially with two little ones to think about.”
Talk to your partner about creating better money habits. Express your concern without shaming, and share why this is so important to you.
See if your partner is willing to save a portion of his/her paycheck and put into a savings account. Or ask his/her employer about contributing to a 401(k).
Regardless of your status (married, engaged, dating), there are things you can do in order to protect your money from your partner.
If You Are Married
Some of the best advice comes from married women who have experienced financial challenges with their partners firsthand.
Speaking from experience, Kim’s top tips include…
- Never commingle your personal funds or assets.
- Seek counsel and research your rights.
- Always have a credit card and checking account in your own name and don’t use it for any purchases that can be considered joint rent/mortgage. Have a separate joint account for that.
- Don’t feel guilty for protecting your assets.
“My ex essentially stole a part of my inheritance,” Kim says. “We got a $100,000 loan from my father to purchase our home. When we sold it, I did not get my money back, because the info on the loan wasn’t in paper.
“Always get everything in writing. It’s been my saving grace. Even if it’s your partner that you love. Things change.”
If all else fails, or perhaps you are feeling resistance from your spouse, you may need to seek help from outside sources.
Couples counseling can help. And, it doesn’t hurt to do your research and/or speak with legal counsel about your rights should the marriage dissolve.
If You Are Engaged
Getting married can be financially beneficial. After all, you’re sharing the wealth, right?
But, you’re also sharing the debt.
Before saying “I do,” get clear with your partner on each other’s financial goals.
Combining finances can be scary, so having tough conversations before you walk down the aisle is crucial.
Start with sharing your credit reports and get transparent about whether your partner is carrying significant debt.
If there are already signs that you should protect your money from your partner, either rethink the marriage part or get a solid prenup.
Asking for a prenup doesn’t mean you don’t trust the other person. And it doesn’t mean you love them any less.
Protecting your assets upfront may actually take some pressure off the relationship. This sets you up for making fair decisions in a calm manner.
Before you get married, consider creating a relationship with a trusted financial advisor who will help both of you pull together all the important pieces of financial life and create a plan for wealth.
If You Are Dating
If you’re dating, and your partner is showing one or several of the signs mentioned above, the prescription is this same as for more committed partnerships.
Try communicating. Protect your assets. Seek counsel.
When these fall short of turning around financial habits and attitude, it might be time to find a new partner. Just sayin’.
In the end, you want to share a life with someone who contributes to, not hinders your financial freedom.
Check Us Out on YouTube for More Crazy Sexy Money Tips.
Disclaimer: I am not a financial planner or expert. All information in the post is my opinion and should not be used as financial advice. This is based solely on my experiences. Any action you take based on the recommendations from this blog is at your discretion. This post contains some affiliate links. If you click on an affiliate link and purchase a product/service, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. However, I only recommend products, services, and/or businesses that I love and believe will add value to you.