5 Ways You Can Tell Your Partner Isn't Financially Reliable… And What to Do About It

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Last updated on February 3, 2022

You may be on the same page with your significant other in most ways: your level of commitment, your hobbies, or your career paths. However, if you find that your partner isn’t responsible when it comes to finances, this can spell trouble down the line. Your finances as a couple, especially when you’re married or living together, matter a lot more than you might think.

In fact, 68% of couples claimed that money issues were one of the leading factors that led to divorce. When one partner is making major financial choices without their spouse knowing, it’s called financial infidelity, which is not only a sign of a lack of communication and trust in a relationship, but it can also be detrimental to your financial future.

Let’s look at some signs on how to spot financial infidelity before it’s too late, and what you can do to turn the situation around.

5 Signs Your S.O Is Bad with Money

5 signs that tell you your partner isn't financially reliable

It’s important to spot the signs that your partner might not be as responsible as you thought. If you’re considering marriage in the near future, you need to notice these signs now before your personal finances start to potentially affect your marriage.

1. They Don’t Have Any Future Financial Plans

It’s one thing to not have any investments, but another thing entirely if your partner doesn’t seem to have any long-term savings plans.

Shopping regularly or spending money lavishly, but not having an emergency fund or any long-term savings for larger purchases, like a down payment on a house, is definitely something you don’t want to find out on your honeymoon, or when you move in together.

If money disappears as soon as payday rolls around, this can be an indication that your partner doesn’t know to properly save money. Living paycheck-to-paycheck should be the first red flag that there are some deeper financial issues at play.


2. Bills Are Never Paid on Time

You don’t necessarily have to be living with your partner to pick up on this one. If they always seem to be scrambling when a cell phone or credit card bill comes around, this can be a sign that they’re not on top of their finances.

However, if you are living together, it can be a lot easier to spot when bills aren’t being paid (hopefully before the electricity gets shut off!), and it’s a lot more frustrating. Does it seem like when it’s your partner’s turn to pay rent or utilities, you always need to remind them that payments are due?

Don’t always accept when your partner insists they’ll “take care of it”. Financial statements should be open and accessible for both you and your S.O to see so that you can make sure they get paid.


3. They’re Secretive About Debt

Secret debt is a big one when it comes to financial infidelity. This article by CBC claims “one out of every five Canadians in marriages or common-law relationships confessed their significant other does not know how much debt they are in

It’s also important to know the specific kind of debt your partner owes. They type of debt your partner has will give you insights as to the type of spender your partner is, providing you with even more information about what to look out for, and spending habits to begin curbing. Is it for necessities, like student loan debt or a car loan? Or, is it for luxuries, like multiple pairs of designer shoes or unaffordable property? Assessing the type of debt your partner has is crucial to determine if you’re both financially compatible.

In general, it’s always best to discuss these things towards the beginning of a relationship so you know what you’re getting yourself into.


4. They Have Too Many Credit Cards

There’s no magic number of how many credit cards you should have as long as you’re using them responsibly. A huge cause for concern is if your loved one seems to have a credit card for every occasion, yet payments aren’t made by the due date, or they’re constantly cancelling and creating new ones.

If the debt they owe is credit card debt for overspending, this should indicate to you that they’re financially irresponsible. Furthermore, if they lack awareness for repairing their credit card debt and they just don’t seem to care, then you’ll likely find that the burden of taking out any loans in the future could rest on your shoulders alone.


5. They Can’t Stick to Budgets

When you bring up budgeting to your S.O, it should lead to open communication rather than an argument.

A lack of budgeting skills or not being able to stick to one shows that a person is mismanaged and frivolous. This can lead to big issues when you need to create budgets for more important things, like a wedding or your children’s education.

You might be more inclined to set yourself monthly budgets that include everything from bill payments, housing, savings and investments, and even a small amount for “splurging” on dinners or nights out. These are great habits that you likely introduced to yourself early on, but not everyone is like you. Your partner might not be as much of a planner, and consequently, might not see the advantage of creating monthly or yearly budgets.

What Can You Do About Your Partner’s Bad Money Habits?


Once you’ve understood what to look out for when assessing your financial compatibility, you must think about a course of action, and no, breaking up doesn’t have to be it.

First things first, it’s critical you sit down and voice your concerns to your partner about their financial habits and how it affects your relationship. Try not to be accusatory, but instead offer them concrete solutions on how they can turn their bad habits around. You can even involve yourself in the solution and commit to creating a new financial plan to stick to together.

Regardless of how you approach the situation, there are a few key things you and your partner should do to regain financial stability:

Saving Your Money

Before your partner tries to tackle rebuilding their credit score or paying off debts, the first step is to start saving money again.

One of the best ways we recommend getting started is by opening a high-interest savings account (HISA). As your partner is likely just starting out on their savings journey, it’s best to start with an account that has no minimum balance.

Try and show your partner the benefit of a HISA by calculating how long it will take you to reach a determined savings goal in the calculator below. You might want to understand how to use the calculator in order to gauge which type of calculation (monthly deposit or savings goal) is a better option for you. Either way, it will be helpful for your partner to visualize how much they can earn just by selecting the right HISA.

Minimizing Your Debt

There’s no quick fix for getting out of debt responsibly, but there are steps you can take to minimize your current debt and avoid unnecessary interest.

Encourage your partner to apply for a balance transfer credit card. These cards allow you to transfer your high-interest debt to a low-interest credit card, ideally with a low balance transfer rate. This will allow your partner to free up money to help pay off debts and get back on track.

Depending on your partner’s credit score, there are many different low balance transfer credit cards they can apply for.

Growing Your Money

Show your partner that growing your savings doesn’t have to be a chore by implementing budgeting apps into your routine. Using apps is quick, easy, and most people are already comfortable doing this regularly, so it shouldn’t be a big adjustment.

Mint, for example, is a fantastic app that allows you to link all your financial accounts and get an accurate picture of exactly where your money is going. It also has great features that remind you when to pay your bills and automatically checks your credit score.

If you think your partner can benefit from something a little more involved, then give the new Canadian credit card: KOHO a try. KOHO is a physical pre-paid card and an app that allows you to track spending and show you how to save money. It also offers a joint account that both you and your partner can use, so you can both be on top of your shared financial health and you can help them keep track of budgets and savings goals.

Final Thoughts

Realizing your partner’s poor money habits can have a serious impact on your future may be scary, but it doesn’t have to mean giving up on your relationship or your financial stability.

It’s extremely important to identify these destructive money habits in your partner before they snowball into a larger more irreversible problem. Financial infidelity is extremely hurtful on more levels than just the disappointment of fiscal irresponsibility.

A healthy relationship goes hand in hand with healthy finances. This is not a topic you can avoid, so it’s best to be open with your partner and show them concrete solutions that will assist them in repairing their financial mishaps. With your support and enough willingness on their end, it’s possible to get their finances back on track and enjoy a comfortable and stable future together.

Author Bio

Alicia Schneider
Montreal-born Alicia Schneider is a digital nomad that specializes in freelance content and travel writing. She has experience writing about financial topics such as invoicing and accounting as well as business technology and software. When she's not writing, she's exploring a new destination that most likely includes sun and a beach. You can see more of her work at aliciaschneider.com.

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