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7 Financial Warning Signs to Watch Out for When in a Relationship
7 Financial Warning Signs to Watch Out for When in a Relationship
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7 Financial Warning Signs to Watch Out for When in a Relationship

Doris Kendi
July 15, 2022

In general, disagreements over money and finances are always cited as one of the leading causes of divorce. Yet, many people are blind to the financial warnings that manifest themselves right from the first date. Conversations regarding the subjects are often shelved and postponed for another date. 

Which, in many cases, ends up being the start of a marriage turmoil. 

It is common for a partner to hide their money, debts, and investment early in the relationship. And you might assume the best and decide to give them space. But as you do that, you should keep an eye open for any financial irregularity, especially after you've combined your finances. 

This article will dive into seven financial warning signs you should watch out for, how they exhibit themselves, and what you can do to resolve them before they spiral out of control leading to divorce.

Also read: How to Build Wealth as a Couple in Kenya

1. They're Secretive About Their Money.

Your partner could be secretive about money for a lot of reasons. It can be as innocent as them planning you a surprise like upgrading your car or something as scary as developing gambling or debt problem.

Whether you and your partner have combined your finances or separated them, some sort of openness regarding money is essential to all relationships. You should know how your partner makes money, spends it, and saves it.

A partner being secretive about their money can derail some of your shared financial goals like buying a home, educating your kids, or planning for retirement. They can expose you to financial burdens and affect your relationship.

So when you catch your partner hiding a bank account, debt, or investments, you must address it as soon as possible.

Also read: Hiding Money From Your Spouse - Is It Ever Okay?

2. They Don’t Stick to Budgets.

Having a partner who is reckless with their spending and disregards stipulated budgets is a big red flag in a relationship.  It can affect your saving goals, drive you to dig into your emergency funds and make it impossible to plan for the future. 

When only one partner doesn’t stick to the family budget, it can lead to the family finances getting out of control due to mismanagement of money. You should prioritize to get ahead of it immediately you notice it. 

Here are some things you can do to get your partner to stick to budgets:

  • Divide up your responsibilities 
  • Use a family budget management app
  • Allow each other some spending(fun) money
  • Adjust and review budgets every once in a while 

Also read: Yours, Mine, Ours? How Couples Can Manage Money 

3. They are Always in Debt

Debt is common, but it can and should be controlled for the most part. But when your partner constantly takes on new debt, borrowing from you, friends, and family, it can be disastrous for your finances. It can lead to daily money arguments that, over time, build resentment. 

Debt not incurred for the benefit of your relationship can be costly. It can prevent you from investing for the future as you'll always be working to help them pay off their loans. And much worse, it can lead to the loss of assets like cars and houses when your partner defaults. 

You and your partner should communicate on how to manage debt, create frameworks to help repay incurred debt, join a financial literacy Bootcamp and create substantial emergency funds. If done correctly, it can help your partner learn how to control their money. 

4. They Want to Control Your Money 

Yes, your partner's opinion on what you should do with your joint finances matters. You should be able to debate, argue and find a middle ground on the issues that concerns money. But you should be alert when they start controlling your money. 

Financial control and abuse can manifest in different ways. Here are some you should be on the lookout for:

  • They want complete control of joint accounts.
  • Limiting your access to money and joint investments 
  • Forcing you to pay all the bills 
  • Hiding incomes and debt from you
  • Monitoring your expenditure and always asking for receipts 
  • Withholding money from you 

If you notice your partner is controlling with money and finances, you should immediately seek help. Talk to financial advisors who will help you understand all your options. 

5. You're on Different Pages Financially 

Your views about money might differ from your partner's when you start dating. You might be frugal and future-oriented while they are frivolous with their spending and live for the moment. But if you and your partner are to have a financially stable future together, you must align your goals. 

Agreeing on one set of goals can be hard. You and your partner must be honest about all your finances and prepared to compromise for the greater good. After that, you will need to open up about your individual goals and dreams and choose the ones most important to you as a couple. 

There will be a lot of friction in your relationship when your goals and money values are worlds apart. You can lose track of how to accomplish goals like buying your family home and planning for retirement. 

Also read: Is a Bank Savings Account Good Enough for You?

6. They Have Zero Investments 

You should be worried if your partner has been working for a decade but has accumulated no assets or savings. It is a major warning sign. It shows that they lack financial planning and knowledge and are irresponsible with their income. This can affect your future goals and lead to a waste of combined finances. 

Investments show that your partner is keen on the future and can cooperate and play their part when you combine Investments or saving for goals such as educating your children or family vacations. 

You should enroll your partner in financial literacy class; if they can't change, you should consider keeping your finances separate.  

7. They're Never Ready for the "Money Talk." 

The truth is, couples prefer talking about different subjects other than money. Talking about your finances from incomes, debts, spending habits, and your financial personality can be challenging and awkward. But it must be done. As a couple, you should be able to talk about your finances as often as possible. 

When your partner doesn't want to talk about money, they might hide bad financial decisions from you, have ulterior motives, or aren't serious about your future together. 

Bringing in neutral third parties like an advisor can help create a room where your partner feels comfortable opening up about their finances. You should start making investment decisions and setting goals you can pursue together to improve cooperation and openness when it comes to having money talks.

Also read: What Is the Rule of 72 and How to Use It When Investing?


Financial warning signs in a relationship can be subtle, and you can miss them if you are not alert. You will realise it when it's too late, and the effects can't be reversed. 

When you notice a warning, the first thing to do is to determine if you can resolve it through dialogue and changing habits. You should be able to sit down with your partner and discuss how you can deal with your financial concerns. If they're serious about your relationship, they should be able to change. 

Involving third parties from financial and relationship councilors, friends, and family can also help. They can act as mediators and help you through your dialogue. They might suggest some strategies to adopt to prevent further risks.

Doris is a finance professional, freelance writer and SEO expert. She has experience helping businesses of all sizes create content that helps improve their site quality and increase their online traffic. She is a personal finance and wealth creation enthusiast and a frequent contributor to Money254. Visit Doris' personal website to learn more about her work.

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