Congratulations: You’ve met “The One” and have made the decision to spend the rest of your lives together. The rush of excitement after a proposal can often leave many elated and eager to spend on that lavish dream wedding. But before you put all your hard earned money into a day of celebration, it might be a good idea to take a step back and have “the talk” with your partner.
By this, we mean openly chatting about money, life goals, the new home, car and other financial decisions that come with committing to a marriage. As amazing as your partner may be, saying “I Do” is a huge decision and life change, and it’s important to keep an eye out for red flags and address them now before you exchange your vows.
Here are some red flags to look out for:
Refusing to talk about money…ever
We get it — talking about finances isn’t everyone’s favourite thing to do. But it’s one thing to dread financial discussions, and a whole other thing if the person you’re about to share your life with refuses to share anything about their finances.
If you’re going to share your life with someone, it’s important that you both know what you’re bringing to the table and how you can save for the future you want to build together.
Try your best to create a safe space where they feel like they can open up, especially if their reluctance is because they’re ashamed of their income or savings. Explain how important it is to communicate about this issue..
If they’re resistant for a long period of time, then you may want to take a step back and try other approaches. This is paramount so be sure to settle this before you start to build a future together.
Inability to find a middle ground
When you talk openly about where you stand when it comes to money, you are bound to find some differences between you and your partner when it comes to where your money goes.
This is perfectly natural, especially when you’ve both had different lifestyles and independence in managing your finances. However, if you’re going to get married, you need to find a compromise that you can both agree on.
Money plays a big part in our daily lives, and decisions about dollars and sense affects so much of what we do. Having an agreement on how much of your salaries go into essentials like the mortgage is vital in the early stages of marriage. Couples who share the same financial values, or at least are able to get themselves on the same page, will find themselves happier in the long run, as well as more appreciative of each other’s gestures and gifts.
Be sure to find the middle ground before you get married and are slapped with major life decisions and bills from every corner.
Unwillingness to manage and reduce debt
We’re surrounded by consumerism and credit everywhere we turn today, and debt is something that many fall prey to. With interest rates as high as 24% per annum on overdue credit card spending, your unpaid credit card bill would double in three years.
Even if your partner pays off the minimum amount required to be paid on each credit card bill, that’s still insufficient. That amount refers only to the interest incurred, and paying that sum each month doesn’t help to reduce the size of the debt itself.
Don’t get us wrong — we’re not saying you have to walk away from someone you love because they’re in debt. It’s okay to marry someone in debt, but you’d want to make sure that they are willing to make adjustments to pay off their debt. It’s just like how it’s perfectly fine to make mistakes — we all do. The key here is being able to acknowledge the wrongdoing, and take steps to make amends and not repeat it. You should be aware that when you marry someone in debt, there may be potential problems like getting rejected for mortgage loans for your home purchases.
Many also end up having to help their partner in their debt repayments after it’s grown into a much bigger amount. Talking about these issues early helps to ensure that you can attempt to solve the problems before it snowballs to an amount you both can’t afford. Helping your partner to divert money into growing wealth instead of interest rates that feed the banks is crucial before marriage.
Reluctant to pay for joint expenses or makes you foot the bill too often
We live in 2022, so we’re definitely not saying that the man (or the woman), or even the higher earner between you shoulder all the expenses incurred. But a relationship is about commitment and contribution between two people.
If your partner constantly tries to wriggle out of expenses, or frequently comes up with reasons to avoid paying for things, then it’s probably enough cause for concern.
Think about it — should this behaviour continue into marriage, will you end up having to foot the bill for your expenditure, from big ticket items like home renovation and furniture, to smaller things like groceries and utilities? Will that end up leaving you with little to no savings, and be caught out in a helpless position should things go south?
Your partner is secretive about where their money is going
The whole point of having a discussion about money is so there is transparency and honesty. This chat, however, might raise some question marks. You may find some gaps in the money they make, the amount of savings they claim to have and their spending habits.
Unless your partner is running a business with irregular income, this discrepancy and secrecy could well be a red flag. They might be hiding their debt, have spending problems, or in some cases – dating someone else at the same time (I’ve seen this happen to someone before!). If your partner is being exceptionally secretive, be sure to address this red flag before you progress any further.
No savings or investments
If your partner is always enjoying nice vacations and meals, splurging on fancy cars and pricey things like luxury goods or jewellery, you may want to make sure they’re planning for the long term too. It’s important to be on the same page as to whether such a lifestyle is sustainable.
If your partner has no savings or investments, this will no doubt affect your future together, especially if either of you lose your job or if a health emergency occurs. So be sure to look out for such habits and make sure you’re both saving, investing and planning financially for the future.
Addressing these red flags now is a great way to look out for your relationship and future. You’d be surprised how much money affects relationships. The key is to start the conversation even before you start planning for the wedding.
The more transparency there is, the less room for misunderstandings and deep set financial issues in the marriage. Just as you will ask a prospective employer questions and consider whether a job is suitable for you, you should also deliberate carefully before tying the knot. After all, marriage is arguably an even bigger commitment to make. These are must-have considerations so do have these talks before you say “I do”!