Are You Bringing (Financial) Baggage to Your Relationships?

Common Bad Money Habits that Hurt Your Relationship

Woman with baggage

 Eduardo Viero / EyeEm/Getty Images

We’ve all dealt with people who’ve brought emotional baggage into our relationships.

Sometimes, we might have even been the one with baggage in tow.

But did you know that in addition to emotional baggage, there’s another kind of baggage that can throw our love life into chaos?

It’s called financial baggage, and you might be lugging it along without even realizing it.

Consider these common bad money mindsets and habits that can sabotage a relationship.

Falling in Love With Someone’s Salary / Lifestyle

If you’ve ever rated someone as good partner material based solely on their job description, car, or which hotspots they frequent, there’s a chance you’re suffering from this mindset.

It’s totally understandable; we all long for the high life, and attaching ourselves to someone who seems to “have it all” can make us feel like we have it all, too. But just because someone is the total package monetarily, doesn’t mean they’re a good fit for you.

If you find yourself dating people who don’t share the same interests and values that you possess, ask yourself what other traits you need in a partner—sense of humor, appreciation for foreign films, you name it. Then seek out people who check those boxes first and foremost, and leave salary as a secondary consideration.

Love Me, Love My Debt

Yes, you have the right to do whatever you want with your money, including getting yourself into a boatload of debt. But bear in mind that, should you ever find that special person you want to spend the rest of your life with, that debt becomes their concern, too.

Racking up credit card bills on the latest gadget or cute pair of shoes may seem harmless now as you’re living it up as a singleton, but when you merge your life with someone else, you also merge your finances. Any debt you bring into the relationship can impact big life goals in the future, from buying a house to having kids to planning for your retirement.

Honestly, you owe it to yourself to take better care of your money, regardless of whether or not you’ll ever find a mate. But if you need an extra bit of motivation to get started, think of the dream life you’d like to live with that perfect someone. Use that as inspiration to start getting smarter about your finances.

Score Keeping

When you’re first dating, splitting the bill or offering to pick up the tab are a nice way of showing you appreciate the person you’re with. But when a relationship becomes a tally count of who owes what, you’re in trouble.

Relationships are about give, take, and compromise. If you’re just starting out with someone, keeping tabs on every bill each of you has ever paid won’t do much to encourage a feeling of affection or camaraderie. Instead of haggling over who had the extra drink or who ate most of your shared appetizer, settle on a general rule of “I’ll get this one, you get the next” to keep things roughly equal.

If you’re further along in your relationship and, say, living together, work out a system for who pays for which household bills—making sure you’re both on board with it and feel it’s fair—and then leave it at that. You’re in this together; if you really can’t let go of the fact that the groceries you pay for are always more expensive than the utilities he pays for, or that she makes less money than you do, then your relationship has bigger problems.

Let’s Not Talk About It

For some people, money is a totally taboo topic. They’d sooner discuss their sex life than divulge to family or friends how much they make or what state their finances are in.

But when you’re in a relationship, honesty and transparency are key. No, you don’t need to reveal your salary on a first date, but if you’re getting serious with someone, you need to be able to talk about things like long-term financial goals, short-term obligations (who will pay for what?), and your overall money mindsets (if you’re a saver and he’s a shopaholic, you’ll need to find common ground).

Financial issues tear apart too many couples. Don’t put an otherwise good relationship in jeopardy by guarding your finances like Ebenezer Scrooge. If you can’t trust someone enough to have the money talk, that might be a sign that your relationship isn’t as solid as it should be. Are you and your partner financially compatible?