Love might not cost a thing but there are other things that might cost you your relationship. Like these money mistakes that people make in the name of love, which could end up doing more harm than good to their romantic life. “You might not agree 100 percent on everything,” says Nicolle Osequeda, a marriage and family therapist in Chicago. “but by being able to listen and honor each other’s individual needs, you can work through your money differences.”
Curious to know if you’re involuntarily ruining your relationship? Read on to find out what common money mistakes you should avoid if you want your relationship to work.
Keeping money a secret
Money secrets in a relationship are never a good idea, no matter if you at the beginning of a relationship or married for several years. It’s important to be honest and open right from the start. “Couples are more comfortable discussing sex than money,” said Neale Godfrey, chairman and president of Children’s Financial Network. “They need to be comfortable with both. They should come clean with each other about assets, debt, income, and expenses. They also need to set their goals together.”
Leaving financial responsibilities to one partner
A relationship involves two people, not only one doing the heavy lifting. This is also valid when it comes to financial responsibilities like paying the bills, going grocery shopping and the like. To prevent any of the partners from feeling frustrated and unhappy, “both partners need to have a clear handle on the inflows and outflows of money,” Godfrey said. “Even if you hate paying bills, do it.”
“It’s OK to support your partner through school, or be the main support while your partner is child-rearing or temporarily out of a job, but [they] should be doing something to compensate,” says Dr. Tessina licensed marriage and family therapist.
Hide your ‘financial personality’
Be honest about your approach towards money from the very start of your relationship. If you’re usually spending more money than you should, or, on the contrary, like to save for rainy days, it’s important to let your partner see you for who you are. Otherwise, you might set up your relationship for failure.
“You have come into the relationship as either a saver or a spender, and that will determine how you handle money,” Godfrey said. “You will feel your way is the right way and vice versa. Trust me, this will start a lot of arguments, resentment and stress. Explain your personality and how you developed it. I bet your parents and your upbringing had a lot to do with your present-day attitude toward money.”
Merging your finances way too soon
No matter how sure you are about your new partner, don’t get tempted into merging your finances from the very beginning. Merging finances is a serious step in a relationship. Therefore, until your relationship becomes serious and you are ready for long-term commitments, it’s better to keep major purchases separate to avoid problems in case of a breakup.
According to clinical psychologist Dr. Carissa Coulston, “if you and your partner separate before the wedding takes place and you’ve combined all your funds into a single account, you could end up losing everything if your ex-partner spends every penny and leaves you high and dry.”
In most relationships, one of the partners earns more than the other. In a normal situation, this shouldn’t be a problem but, in some cases, the bigger breadwinner uses this as leverage. Remember, your goal should be to work as a team and not make your partner feel resentment and frustration. “When one person has sole control over the finances it creates an unhealthy control element,” says Angel M. Hoodye, MS, LPCS, CART, owner of Flourishing Hope Counseling. “The person that manages all of the finances has freedom and independence financially while the other person is dependent. This arrangement discourages independence for the person being financially abused.”
Keeping a secret credit card or bank account still counts as cheating, only under a different form. While this might not affect your relationship as much as a romantic affair, you’re still lying to your partner, which cannot be a good sign for any relationship.
“Financial secrets take an added toll due to the effect they have on a sense of both physical and emotional security,” explains clinical psychologist and author Dr. Carla Marie Manly.
Using separate accounts
For some long-term couples, sticking to separate accounts is the best way to avoid unwanted financial frictions. However, according to various marriage and family experts, this separation of accounts can lead to more problems down the road. After all, you should be a team, not every man for himself. One way to solve this issue is to set up a joint account and use it to pay the bills and other common necessities. The remaining amount can then be divided between the two of you.
Lending money to family irresponsibly
Money is a tricky matter for a lot of people, and loaning to friends and family is something most financial experts advise against. In fact, according to a Lending Tree study, those who provide financial help to their relatives get back around 57 percent of the loaned amount. For this very reason, if someone from your family, even your adult child, asks you for a loan, discuss this matter with your partner.
“Not doing this can create resentment, can present the opportunity to keep secrets about loans or monetary gifts to relatives, and can violate an otherwise healthy, comprehensive trust that the couple have built,” says Byron Tully.
Failing to set a spending budget
According to a SunTrust Bank study, the main reason for financial altercations among couples is excessive spending. “Sharing is an important part of any relationship, but spending joint money on personal expenses could end up looking like you’re taking advantage of your partner,” warns Manly. “They may begin to feel used and even cheated. And eventually, that kind of resentment is going to cause a major disruption.”
That’s why it’s important to set a spending limit and “take a collaborative approach to negotiate an ideal money plan,” Manly advises. “The saver might be honored by having a long-term saving plan adopted, while the spender might feel honored knowing that every month a certain sum has been allotted to fun purchases.”
Overspending on the first date
Everybody wants to have a perfect first date. But it doesn’t mean you have to break into your savings to impress someone with expensive champagne, flowers and a lavish dinner. This will only give them false expectations about who you are and even make your date uncomfortable and feel like they owe you something.
According to date coaches, the average person should not spend more than $50 on a first date. “Dating is a long haul. Don’t expect it to go on five dates and then you’re going to be done kissing frogs,” says dating coach Bela Gandhi. “First dates should be short and sweet — no more than two hours long max,” she says. “Don’t make it epic — a drink and an appetizer is fine. Go for a walk, grab a cup of coffee. Get creative without breaking the bank.”