How to Tell If You’re Dating a Deadbeat

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This post by Len Penzo comes from LenPenzo.com.

I’m very fortunate that the Honeybee and I rarely have a disagreement regarding money. In fact, I can only remember it happening once in more than 16 years of marriage – and it was all due to a silly misunderstanding.

A recent study affirmed the conventional wisdom that says money is the most likely point of conflict in a marriage. This is especially true when one spouse tends to be a spender while the other is a saver.

When a married couple have different philosophies regarding the importance of financial responsibility, there are usually going to be big problems somewhere down the road; many times, the only solution ends up being a messy and expensive divorce.

Of course, that’s why it’s important to know if your partner is financially compatible with you before you tie the knot.

So, does your current steady have their financial act together?

If you don’t know, you’d better find out – especially with Valentine’s Day around the corner. Think about it: Just because your flame is spoiling you doesn’t mean that he (or she) can afford it.

True, your lover may seem to be financially well-off, but will he be able to maintain his lifestyle after you get married? And if not, does he possess the discipline required to throttle back on the spending pedal?

Unfortunately, folks who fail to ask those simple questions often end up being led into a financial quagmire.

Thankfully, there are warning signs for those who choose to pay attention.

In Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money with Your Honey, co-authors Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar offer five indicators that may signal you’re dating a deadbeat. I’ve listed them here, along with a few additional ones of my own.

How many of these apply to your current valentine?

  1. They always insist on picking up the check at a big dinner or throwing down a credit card without looking at the bill. This may be the sign of a big spender living beyond his means in an attempt to impress you.
  2. They live in a large but sparsely furnished home. According to Thakor and Kedar, this can indicate your partner has, as they say in Texas, “a big hat, but no cattle.”
  3. They avoid answering calls on their cell phone. This is a potential sign that your steady is avoiding bill collectors.
  4. They lease a car. Yeah, this seems like a bit of a stretch to me too. However, leasing is often a sign of living beyond one’s means.
  5. They ask you to buy things for them or cosign loans. But, Len, they always promise to pay me back. Okay. Let me know how that works out for you.
  6. They have a lot of bills marked “urgent” or “past due.” This is another big financial red flag.
  7. They have bills in somebody else’s name. It could be an ex-sweetheart’s bill, or indicate that your current lover couldn’t get an account on their own. Then again, it could also mean that the postman simply delivered the bill to the wrong person — so make sure you verify that address before you get too accusatory.
  8. They admit that their credit cards are maxed out. This, too, is a great indicator of somebody having trouble living within their means.
  9. They have a payday loan company magnet on the refrigerator door. Ah, yes … “Joe’s Payday Loans: When nobody else will loan you money. Not even your relatives.” Don’t laugh. Short of a loan shark, the payday loan company is typically the lender of last resort.
  10. They have a live-in maid named “Mom.” Psst. Come closer. If you said “yes” to this one, and you happen to be in your lover’s house right now, listen to me very carefully. Put down the mouse. Then calmly walk out the door and get away. As fast as you possibly can.

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