3 Financial Red Flags in a Relationship

**This post may contain affiliate links. I may be compensated if you use them.

Relationships are like hard. We hopefully won’t go through too many partners before we find that special someone, but way too often we come across relationship red flags that make us wonder if we can do better. It’s easy to overlook superficial issues, but when it comes to financial red flags there are definitely some deal breakers.

Don’t get me wrong, no one is perfect. It’s not like we’re all naturally good with our money, plus it’s totally okay to have disagreements when it comes to our finances. But if we’re serious about taking our relationship to the next level e.g. marriage, then we really need to make the money talk a priority – just don’t do it on the first date.

financial red flags

Credit card debt

I understand that some people have credit card debt, it happens; that’s not a reason to end your relationship. What I would be concerned about are people who are making no effort whatsoever to eliminate their credit card debt. What you want to look out for are people who are using credit to feed their excessive lifestyle even though they can’t afford it. Okay technically you can afford it if you’re making just minimum payments, but eventually, have to pay that money back.

If you want to make the relationship work you need to talk about the debt and figure out a way to tackle it together. Although one partner may have more debt that the other, it shouldn’t be treated separately, in the end, you’re in it together.

Excessive spending

Spending comes in many forms; some people prefer to buy new clothes and gadgets all the time while others may always offer to pay to pay since it makes them feel important. Even if they’re not putting things on credit, spending all their money is still a financial red flag.

In some relationships, one partner will spend more and justify it because they earn more money. This is a terrible excuse since it creates a situation where one partner may feel that they aren’t equal in the relationship. If the amount of money your partner spends is a concern then you should probably have a civilized discussion about it so you can hopefully come to some kind of common ground.

Can’t keep a job

Job losses suck and they can happen to anyone. However, the reason one loses a job is what matters. If it’s a legit reason such as layoff then there’s no real need to be concerned, but if your partner can’t seem to hold a job and is always blaming someone else for being let go, I’d start to wonder if there’s a bigger issue at hand.

Maybe your family can live on a single income, but in many relationships, a dual income is required to live. It’s unfortunate, but some people aren’t willing to accept responsibility when it comes to being a good employee. After a while the excuses get tiring, if you can’t trust them to keep a job, how can you honestly expect them to help you save for a home or retirement?

Final thoughts

I don’t want to ruin the romance, but seriously, wouldn’t you prefer to be with someone who has their sh*t together? Financial red flags are a real thing to be concerned about, but they can be resolved as long as both partners are willing to address them together.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. Abigail @ipickuppennies on February 16, 2016 at 3:28 PM

    My husband had defaulted student loans when we met. He had trouble keeping a job because of health problems.

    Ours was definitely the exception to the rule: I’m glad I stuck by him despite the red flags. But people should definitely carefully consider whether they think they can build a long-term, secure future with someone. Our life has certainly had its share of bumps. And conks on the head. And a few kicks to the groin. But there’s no one I’d rather share the aches and pains with!

    • Barry Choi on February 16, 2016 at 3:34 PM


      Great news that you stuck with him. As long as couples are willing to tackle the problems together and have open discussions, things may work out just fine.

Leave a Comment

Get a FREE copy of Travel Hacking for Lazy People

Subscribe now to get your FREE eBook and learn how to travel in luxury for less