5 Financial Red Flags Your Partner Doesn’t Want You to Notice

5 Financial Red Flags Your Partner Doesn’t Want You to Notice article image.

Valentine's Day is long gone but Cupid is still in business, drawing back his bow for a shot at true love for fortunate couples.

Yet many relationships can't take flight until both parties have a candid discussion about money. More specifically, that conversation should prioritize potentially troubling credit situations that can capsize a relationship before it gets rolling.

Why Talk About Money and Credit?

Yes, people can have bad credit for a variety of reasons, fair and unfair, but a romantic partner with strong credit health has a right to know if his or her significant other has credit problems.

In fact, there's a strong case that credit health should be a big factor in evaluating a romantic partner. According to data from Experian, half of Americans say that credit scores are "important" when choosing a spouse.

Yet credit scores are at the top of the list of financial topics "not discussed" before two romantic partners agree to tie the knot.

Millennials ❤️ Love Good Money Managers

Millennials seem to be getting the message. A separate study from Affirm, an online consumer loan services company, states that 53% of millennial respondents considered whether their partner was good at managing money before dating exclusively, more than any other generation.

That's where a frank (and careful) conversation about money and credit can clear the air, and let each partner know where he or stands on potential household financial issues. A good face-to-face talk is also preferable to picking up signs and cues that your love interest has financial problems—but isn't admitting to them.

"Many of the financial values of the person you want to date will ‘spill out' into regular conversations and behaviors," says Jonathan Bennett, a Columbus, Oh.-based life and relationships coach. "This includes indicators of his or her credit score. You just have to look for them."

How Money Can Affect Relationships

"Real world" financial decisions factor into your life in myriad ways if a couple doesn't address the financial problems hindering one partner, experts say.

Consider this: With a home mortgage, 90% of lenders are required to use the lowest credit score between both borrowers, notes Jennifer Beeston, a loan specialist with Guaranteed Rate Mortgage.

"That means if your score is 800 but your partner's is 650, we are pricing your loan at 650," she says. "The rate difference between 650 and 800 can be substantial, and affect the type of loan you choose and overall terms."

4 Financial Red Flags

What specific strategies can a romantic partner use to raise any "red financial flags" and eventually have these conversations with potential partners? Financial experts offer the following tips:

1. Pay Attention to Credit Clues

Look for tell-tale signs, Bennett advises. "For example, your date might mention not being able to go out until payday or you notice bill collectors calling his or her phone," he says. "In addition, you can look at the person's domestic situation. Does he or she own a vehicle or always get rides from others—including you—and is this by choice? Does he or she own or rent a home or stay with friends and family?"

2. A Single Credit Card

In some instances, owning just one credit card could be a sign of a disciplined financial consumer. But there are caveats. "The person might own a single credit card with only a $300 limit," notes Beeston. If it becomes apparent early in the dating process that a potential partner doesn't have a decent amount of money to spend—and won't use his or her lone credit card—that's worth an honest discussion.

3. Too Much Finger-Pointing

If someone recently got divorced or filed for bankruptcy, it will come out eventually, says Julie Spira, a relationship and dating coach. "If your new dating partner blames the bad credit on their ex-spouse, it should raise both eyebrows," Spira says. Spira recommends sharing credit scores and reports with your partner to open up the conversation if it looks like the relationship could get serious. "If there's something on a credit report that can be cleaned up, take the steps to do so," she adds.

4. Talking About Money Is Taboo

"It's always amazing to me how talking about money and credit can be considered taboo even with our most intimate acquaintances," says Beeston. If your new significant other backs away from those discussions, he or she may have something to hide, she says.

You'll also want to take notice if your new romantic companion leads a very lavish lifestyle, but is in a job that does not seemingly provide enough income to support that lifestyle, Beeston says.

"Credit is very important in that it will determine the price you pay for the largest purchases in your life," she says. "If you are looking at joining finances in any way you both should be prepared to look at each other's credit reports and discuss how you both can improve to get the highest score.

Don't Let Money Overrule Love

Another key point when you do get to the conversation stage—issuing a judgment or pointing fingers from both parties isn't going to help couples solve ongoing credit problems. People experience financial woes for a wide variety of reasons, and often it's simply a matter of putting the issue on the table, honestly and compassionately, and agreeing on a positive credit-strengthening plan going forward.

No doubt, there are plenty of legitimate pros and cons to flagging credit issues with a romantic partner. To satisfy your curiosity over a love interest with apparent money challenges, don't jump to conclusions, be empathetic and honest, and always drive any problems toward a solutions-based path as soon as possible.

Do that, and the newfound trust gained from a candid money talk can help your relationship prosper for decades to come.

How Good Is Your Credit Score?

300 credit score301 credit score302 credit score303 credit score304 credit score305 credit score306 credit score307 credit score308 credit score309 credit score310 credit score311 credit score312 credit score313 credit score314 credit score315 credit score316 credit score317 credit score318 credit score319 credit score320 credit score321 credit score322 credit score323 credit score324 credit score325 credit score326 credit score327 credit score328 credit score329 credit score330 credit score331 credit score332 credit score333 credit score334 credit score335 credit score336 credit score337 credit score338 credit score339 credit score340 credit score341 credit score342 credit score343 credit score344 credit score345 credit score346 credit score347 credit score348 credit score349 credit score350 credit score351 credit score352 credit score353 credit score354 credit score355 credit score356 credit score357 credit score358 credit score359 credit score360 credit score361 credit score362 credit score363 credit score364 credit score365 credit score366 credit score367 credit score368 credit score369 credit score370 credit score371 credit score372 credit score373 credit score374 credit score375 credit score376 credit score377 credit score378 credit score379 credit score380 credit score381 credit score382 credit score383 credit score384 credit score385 credit score386 credit score387 credit score388 credit score389 credit score390 credit score391 credit score392 credit score393 credit score394 credit score395 credit score396 credit score397 credit score398 credit score399 credit score400 credit score401 credit score402 credit score403 credit score404 credit score405 credit score406 credit score407 credit score408 credit score409 credit score410 credit score411 credit score412 credit score413 credit score414 credit score415 credit score416 credit score417 credit score418 credit score419 credit score420 credit score421 credit score422 credit score423 credit score424 credit score425 credit score426 credit score427 credit score428 credit score429 credit score430 credit score431 credit score432 credit score433 credit score434 credit score435 credit score436 credit score437 credit score438 credit score439 credit score440 credit score441 credit score442 credit score443 credit score444 credit score445 credit score446 credit score447 credit score448 credit score449 credit score450 credit score451 credit score452 credit score453 credit score454 credit score455 credit score456 credit score457 credit score458 credit score459 credit score460 credit score461 credit score462 credit score463 credit score464 credit score465 credit score466 credit score467 credit score468 credit score469 credit score470 credit score471 credit score472 credit score473 credit score474 credit score475 credit score476 credit score477 credit score478 credit score479 credit score480 credit score481 credit score482 credit score483 credit score484 credit score485 credit score486 credit score487 credit score488 credit score489 credit score490 credit score491 credit score492 credit score493 credit score494 credit score495 credit score496 credit score497 credit score498 credit score499 credit score500 credit score501 credit score502 credit score503 credit score504 credit score505 credit score506 credit score507 credit score508 credit score509 credit score510 credit score511 credit score512 credit score513 credit score514 credit score515 credit score516 credit score517 credit score518 credit score519 credit score520 credit score521 credit score522 credit score523 credit score524 credit score525 credit score526 credit score527 credit score528 credit score529 credit score530 credit score531 credit score532 credit score533 credit score534 credit score535 credit score536 credit score537 credit score538 credit score539 credit score540 credit score541 credit score542 credit score543 credit score544 credit score545 credit score546 credit score547 credit score548 credit score549 credit score550 credit score551 credit score552 credit score553 credit score554 credit score555 credit score556 credit score557 credit score558 credit score559 credit score560 credit score561 credit score562 credit score563 credit score564 credit score565 credit score566 credit score567 credit score568 credit score569 credit score570 credit score571 credit score572 credit score573 credit score574 credit score575 credit score576 credit score577 credit score578 credit score579 credit score