Some say that love and money make the world go round — and they absolutely do — in reality though, they can also make our heads spin.
When James Berger, Founder of Refresh Outdoors, was 25, he made a cross-country move from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles to move in with a woman he met online. “I went all in and felt it was best for us to move in together,” he says. Leaving his well-paying job as an aerospace engineer, he made the move to LA, but all did not go as planned.
“I ended up spending a considerable amount of money and she left me after a few weeks stating it didn’t feel right,” he explains. “I was left stuck in a rental lease for a year having to foot the bill myself along with the additional expenses of living in an expensive city. It was a massive financial mistake and set me back a while as I looked for a new job.”
James’ story is just one of many love and money mistakes that can upend your financial health in the blink of an eye, as you’ll read below. Disagreements over money are among the most common sources of conflict in relationships, and if you think combining finances with a partner is tricky, just wait until you have to untangle them during a divorce.
With planning and open communication, you can wade through the treacherous waters of love and money without drowning in debt or going broke. Staying aware of these major love and money mistakes and learning how to avoid them can help.
1. Avoiding the topic of money altogether
When you’re in a relationship, one of the biggest money mistakes you can make is not talking about money at all. Though it may be tough to open up early on, being honest about your income, expenses, and debts can help avoid misunderstandings as your relationship progresses. Not sure where to start? Our money date checklists can help you determine what topics to discuss at every stage in your relationship.
2. Overspending for the sake of impressing your date
Spending more than you can afford can strain your finances and your relationship. You can set money aside specifically for dates to stay within your budget, whether you’re single and looking or in a committed relationship. If you don’t already know about infla-dating, now is the time to learn how sticking to a budget can help you avoid overspending. This is especially important if you’re already in debt.
To increase your dating budget, you may want to consider ways to decrease your existing debt. A debt consolidation loan combines your debts into one low-interest payment so you can pay off debt faster — freeing up money to spend on your sweetheart. The tool below can help you find the debt consolidation loan that works best for you.
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3. Not aligning your financial goals
It’s important to have conversations about your financial goals as a couple when you’re in a long-term relationship. Whether you plan to save for a down payment on a house, pay off debt, or invest for the future, being on the same page about finances is a must-do. One way to ensure you and your partner stay aligned is to plan regular money dates to stay on top of all aspects of your finances.
4. Lending money to someone without telling your partner
The year after Katie married her husband, she lent her younger sister $500 to help fund a trip to her best friend’s destination wedding. Katie’s husband knew her sister was out of a job, so when he saw photos on Facebook of her at a tropical, beachside wedding, he questioned how she was able to make the trip.
“In hindsight, this was the sort of thing I knew I should have told him, but I knew we could afford it and I didn’t think it was that big of a deal,” Katie explains. Katie’s husband, however, didn’t understand why Katie wouldn’t have talked to him about lending the money and was upset. “It caused a huge argument,” Katie says. “We got through it, but it was a learning moment where I realized that in a marriage, you have to be honest and communicate about what you’re spending your shared money on.”
5. Blowing your budget on a big wedding
A wedding is the ultimate celebration of your love as a couple, but all of the expenses that go with it can add up quickly. As Credello previously reported, average wedding budgets run between $20,000 and $40,000.
Taking out a wedding loan is one option to look into, but there are a myriad of financial factors to consider before doing so if you don’t want to start your relationship off in debt or are already dealing with debt on your own. In short, don’t have a wedding you can’t afford or you could wind up paying for it — literally and figuratively — for years.
6. Not considering a prenuptial agreement
When Crystal was 30, she left her husband of five years and filed for divorce in New York before moving back home to Texas. “Moving to NYC and living there when I did before we got married was expensive. I had basically nothing saved up,” Crystal says.
Her husband had assets prior to their marriage that she didn’t have access to, and his salary kept them comfortable during their marriage. When they got divorced, she wasn’t eligible for spousal support and had no personal savings to lean on. “Moving home during the middle of a messy divorce and having to deal with all of that from a different state drained my account and put me in debt to the point where it’s taken me nearly a decade to climb back out of the hole I was in,” she explains.
It may not be the most romantic conversation, but discussing a prenuptial agreement can prevent later disagreements about money if you wind up divorced.
7. Lying about money
Financial infidelity is one of the most common love and money mistakes. In fact, 35% of respondents in Credello’s Love & Debt Survey revealed that they have hid a major purchase from their partner. Whether that means racking up credit card debt in secret or not revealing how much debt you’re into your partner, a lack of transparency around money can be a huge breach of trust in a relationship.
It can be difficult to do, but you can address this issue by having an open and honest conversation about why it’s happening and how to prevent it in the future to rebuild trust and transparency around money.
Whether you’re looking for love on the dating scene, newlyweds just starting out, or a seasoned couple, you can build a solid financial foundation and a lasting love if you avoid these money mistakes. When it comes to love and money, use your head, not your heart.