A relationship requires patience and care. If you fail to nourish your partnership, your behavior could have a negative impact not only on your emotions but also your finances.
Balancing money and relationships can be a complicated dance. One can have a significant effect on the other. And for most couples, love and money don’t mix well. Approximately 68% of Americans said money causes more relationship conflict than sex, according to a Money Habits and Confessions Survey by financial education site LearnVest.
If you’re trying to keep your love life intact, this could be a good move for your finances. But there are some mistakes you don’t want to make if you want to keep your wallet healthy. Here are 10 relationship mistakes that could sabotage your money.
1. Financial infidelity
Have you made a couple of purchases you didn’t want your partner to know about? Did you stuff these items under the bed or hide them in the back of your closet? These secret purchases could cause your finances to spiral out of control. The fact that you have to keep these purchases hidden might make you feel stifled and cause you to spend even more. And if your spouse finds out about your clandestine financial life, you could be headed for a high-cost divorce.
A study conducted by YouGov on behalf of life insurance agency Haven Life revealed 1 in 5 Americans are hiding debt from their partners. Roughly 70% of married respondents said they would rethink their relationship if they ever discovered their spouse was hiding debt of more than $5,000.
Next: Not caring enough about how you look
2. Letting yourself go
At some point in a relationship, you got so comfortable that you let yourself go a little (or maybe a lot). You stopped going to the gym, and you allow yourself to have that third slice of pizza or second slice of cake. You might reason it doesn’t matter how you keep yourself because you’ve already hooked your partner. And you don’t see a reason to impress him or her.
The only problem with this newfound freedom is it could cost you your health and financial security. Illness can cause your finances to be hit hard. Medical costs for someone who is obese, for example, are $1,429 higher than for a person who is a normal weight.
Next: Caring too much about how you look
3. Being overly concerned with appearance
On the other hand, it’s possible to care too much about your appearance. It’s normal to want to look nice for your partner, especially during the early part of the relationship, but this could start to get out of hand if you’re not careful. Frequent trips to the hair salon, purchasing the latest clothes, and other grooming expenses can blow your budget.
Although it’s not clear whether this was done with a special someone in mind, Alison Freer, author of the book How to Get Dressed, admitted in an article that she spent roughly $4,000 a year to look pretty. This money went toward purchases, such as manicures, hair salon visits, clothing, and beauty products. If you think that’s a lot of money, another article published in The Wall Street Journal reported some individuals spend as much as $20,000 a year to look good.
Next: Deciding that the grass is greener with someone else
Cheating on your partner is a relationship mistake that will cost you in more ways than one. Having an affair can get quite expensive. All that lying and sneaking around isn’t cheap.
If you want to have some quiet time with your secret love and you don’t want to get caught, you’ll have to rent a hotel room. You’re also trying to impress your new love, so you’re likely spending money on a new wardrobe and fancy dinners. One survey estimated an affair will run you roughly $444 a month.
Next: Spouse, what spouse?
5. Ignoring your spouse
It’s not uncommon for spouses to get to a point where they hit autopilot. You and your partner got busy and found yourselves getting wrapped up in your own lives. Instead of hurrying home to have dinner and talk about your day, you hang around the office to tie up loose ends and then grab some takeout.
However, if you don’t nurture your relationship, it’s just a matter of time before things unravel. You’ll eventually get to the point where you feel like you don’t even know each other anymore — probably because you don’t.
One reason couples have for getting divorced is they started to drift apart. Unfortunately, a divorce could have a major impact not only on your finances right now, but also on your retirement. Depending on how long you were married, your spouse could be entitled to some of your retirement savings as part of the divorce settlement.
Next: Don’t get mad; go on a shopping spree.
6. Revenge spending
You and your partner have been saving for years for a down payment on a home. Then, one day without warning, you find out he spent some of the savings on a new car. After an explosive argument, you attempt to get revenge by heading down to the mall for a little shopping spree of your own. As you can probably guess, no one wins in this situation.
Reckless financial behavior and heated arguments about money could lead to even more money trouble. As anger and resentment build, this can lead one or both partners to engage in revenge spending. Consequently, a cycle of debt begins that can be very hard to dig out of.
Next: Being the family ATM
7. Putting extended family first
It might start with a loan to your aunt. A few months later, your cousin might hit a rough patch. The next thing you know, your uncles and cousins are hitting you up for money, too.
Things between you and your partner could get strained if you’re constantly lending money (or more likely giving it away because you probably won’t see your cash again) to family members instead of taking care of things at home first. For example, you might give Uncle Joe $500 when you know your roof needs repair. Putting others first when things at home need your attention and resources will milk your finances dry.
Next: Using work as an excuse to get away from the ball and chain
8. Working long hours to avoid your partner
The expiration date on your relationship is long overdue, yet you stay anyway. You attempt to make things more bearable by staying at work and burying yourself in projects. Yet, this plan isn’t sustainable because you’ll eventually burn out and start making big mistakes at work. If you don’t get fired first, you’ll likely get sick from overworking and be stuck with hefty medical bills. So work on your relationship before you get sick or lose your job.
Next: Ignoring problems and hoping they’ll get better
9. Ignoring major life goal differences
You don’t have to agree on every topic, but there are certain areas (particularly when it comes to money) where it helps to have similar goals. If you and your partner have wildly different values when it comes to money, this could eventually cause you to get off track with your household finances. And if you’re thinking about getting married, it will be even important to sit down and ask questions about the financial goals each of you has for your finances.
Next: A cure for what ails you
10. How to preserve your relationship and your money
Meet regularly. It’s a good idea to meet on a regular basis to discuss money matters. Monthly or quarterly meetings can help you stay on the same page and talk about any big purchases. If having a formal meeting sounds like a drag, keep things fun by going on money dates.
Be honest. Communication and honesty are key. If you’re struggling in a financial area (perhaps with overspending or a financial addiction, such as gambling), it’s time to come clean. The only way you can overcome your struggle is to bring your problems into the light and work on a plan to tackle your money demons as a team.
Don’t be afraid to move on. Sometimes your money and your honey just don’t gel. If your partner’s money issues are severely impacting your financial health and he or she doesn’t have the desire to fix them, you might want to consider cutting ties. Each situation is different, so make the decision that’s right for you.
Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.