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Dating: Early Warning Signs of Financial Trouble

woman walking off with credit card from guy holding a briefcase

While you aren’t going to ask someone to share their credit score or debt information on a first date, you can be conscious of some warning signs early on in a relationship. More specifically, you can look for patterns of behavior that may be indicative of larger problems.

It may sound unromantic, but it’s wise to be in tune with signs of financial trouble from the get-go.  If you answer “yes” to the one or more of the following questions, then I’d say there’s reason for you to be concerned:

  • Are you always paying for everything? Is that the expectation? Is this what you want in the future?
  • Does the person you’re dating seem to have plenty of money until it comes to something you want to do?
  • Does the other person have the latest and greatest clothes, tech gadgets, etc., and then complain that he or she has no money until payday?
  • Do you see unpaid bills laying around at the other person’s home?
  • Is the person getting messages that seem to be from collectors?
  • Does he or she have any financial goals? 
  • Does he or she ask to borrow money from you?
  • Does the other person spend a great deal of money but you aren’t sure where it is coming from?


As your relationship progresses, and if the two of you are thinking about a commitment, then you should be more willing to share information about your credit and your finances. If the other person is unwilling to share information with you at this point, you can expect the same in the future. Is this something you could live with year after year?

Questions to ask each other once you’re in a committed relationship: 

  • How much debt do each of you have? 
  • What is the cause of the debt?
  • What are your credit scores?
  • Have either one of you experienced financial hardships?  If so, what and when?
  • Do you have similar beliefs on what financial roles two people in a relationship have?
  • What will you do if one of you is offered a promotion that takes you to another city?  Whose career takes priority?
  • Do you have similar views on spending and saving?
  • Will you both continue to work if you get married?
  • Will you both work if you decide to have children?


These can be hard questions to tackle, but they’re essential to ask nevertheless, since the answers to them can determine the course of your relationship and your own financial future.

If a prospective partner has experienced a financial setback or two, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t move forward in the relationship.  Still you’ll want to understand the reason for the setback and learn what action he or she has taken to set things right.

You’re not looking for perfection, but you should expect congruency. Does the person’s actions match what they tell you?  The way a person manages money and credit often indicates how they manage other areas of their life. As difficult as it can be to remember, people don’t change because we want them to change.  People only change when they want to change.