Is your stud a financial dud? While this may not sound like a romantic question, it's a very practical one. Money is routinely cited as one of the top causes of fights in marriage and one of the top causes of divorce. As spring rounds the corner and love blossoms in your heart, here are five questions to help see if your honey may have problems when it comes to his relationship with money:
1. Does your sweetie always insist on picking up the check at a big dinner or throw down his credit card without even looking at the bill? While this could be a sign of innate generosity -- it could also be a red flag for someone who is trying to show off and is doing so by living beyond their means thanks to the "friendly" help of credit cards. The unfortunate reality is that more than two-thirds of Americans routinely live beyond their means -- not because they want to make bad financial decisions but because they often don't really understand personal finance and are too embarrassed to ask.
2. Does your sweetie lease his car? Think about it, what's the sales pitch for leasing it's "hey you can get more car for less money than if you buy outright!" Sound too good to be true? There can be some very special circumstances when leasing does make sense, but generally, as financial guru Dave Ramsey says, it should be called "fleecing" not leasing. Leasing a car can be a classic red financial flag that someone is living beyond their means.
3. Does your sweetie have a large but sparsely furnished apartment or home? While it's possible that your sweetie is just waiting for his or her personal design sensibility to present itself; more likely than not it's a red financial flag that you've got a case of what's called down in Texas "Big Hat, No Cattle." A phrase made popular in the wonderful book 'The Millionaire Next Door,' it highlights a sad but true phenomenon. In today's credit driven society, the guy with the big house or flashy car or the gal with the four-digit handbag and the three-digit stilettos may present an exterior image that bears no resemblance to their true economic reality.
4. Does your sweetie avoid answering calls on his phone? It's possible it's just mom checking in to see how the day is going, but then again, it's also possible that it's bill collectors calling to find out when your sweetie is going to make good on that car payment, mortgage, credit card or other outstanding debts.
5. Does your sweetie ask you to co-sign or buy things in your name, promising to pay you back? Why would a financially responsible person ever ask their significant other to do this? If so, something sure smells fishy and it's likely not the dinner you cooked last night. If this is your situation, you want to ask your sweetie to show you his or her credit report and his credit score. This may be the clearest sign that it's time to evacuate the relationship.
Now if you get a yes to one or more of these questions -- it doesn't mean you have to say no to the relationship. It just means that this is a subject you'll want to make sure to have frank and honest dialogue about as you meander down the path of life.