Love is a wonderful thing, but sometimes you can become so blinded by your emotions you end up getting involved with someone who is a bad match. You may become so love-drunk that you fall for someone looking to ride your coattails all the way to the bank. The Cheat Sheet reached out to Bill Liatsis, personal finance expert and co-founder of CreditIQ, to uncover the tell-tale signs you’re with someone looking for that pot of gold.
The red flags
The Cheat Sheet: What are some red flags you’re in a relationship with a gold digger?
Bill Liatsis: What your partner has is never good enough and he or she is constantly looking and pointing out what someone else just bought. Another red flag is if the focus always seems to be impressing other couples at your expense. It’s always about a good table at the new hip restaurant when you go out with friends, never a movie and a beer afterward. You always pay. And the biggest red flag can be seen when it comes to vacations. Does it always need to be the St. Regis or Four Seasons or Maui or can we Airbnb a quaint place in Vermont and have just as much fun? If it’s the former and it’s on your dime, guess what? That trend won’t stop after marriage.
Next: Protect your finances
Guard your finances
CS: How can you protect your finances from someone who may be a gold digger before you get married?
BL: Keep your credit cards to yourself. Under almost no circumstance should the person you’re dating require a spending account from you. They were independent before you met, right? What’s changed that requires your support other than the fact that you have the means? Second: Vet, vet, vet! Are there any transactions in which you share or are at least offered the chance to split a bill? Has your partner ever treated you to something without anything expected in return? Good old-fashioned generosity (within their means of course—beware if they’re trying to impress beyond their ability) is a good indication of character.
Next: When it’s time to talk finances
Don’t rush into talking about money
The Cheat Sheet: How soon after dating should you have a discussion about finances, compare credit scores, and discuss each other’s debts?
Bill Liatsis: Discuss finances as the topic comes up naturally: dinner dates, work discussions with friends, and other couples. It’s part of all of our lives; it should come up reasonably quickly as people love to discuss their careers. This should certainly happen within the first few weeks, and if it doesn’t, I’d start to wonder and maybe be a bit more proactive in bringing up the topic.
Next: Liatsis shares his thoughts on when to talk about credit scores.
The credit score question
Bill Liatsis: Student loans and large purchases like a car or home are a great time to introduce the credit score topic. If you’re in an obviously high-paying career and your partner turns out to have a low credit score and a ton of student debt it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily after your money, but it does mean that you should be aware of that possibility.
Next: Why you might want to offer advice, not cash.
Are they asking for a handout?
CS: How else can this type of conversation give you any indication as to whether someone is just after your money?
BL: If serious relationship conversations are centering around debt and money and your partner’s need for debt relief, I’d think twice about offering any financial help. It’s better to offer advice and see if it’s well taken and the relationship remains the same or if there’s disappointment and financial gain was your partner’s goal all along.
Next: What if you end up married to a gold digger?
What if you’re in too deep?
CS: What should you do if you realize you’re in a relationship with a gold digger after you’re already married?
BL: Get a postnuptial agreement. As best you can, have separate accounts. Make sure accounts in your name are all current and the spender is ultimately responsible for their own financial destiny in terms of credit standing.
Next: The one word you need to keep in mind
The true magic word
CS: Anything to add?
BL: Budget, budget, budget. And only spend within your means. If your partner is going to use credit, make sure it is his or her account, and not yours. Follow the steps above when entering a relationship and let your character compass be your ultimate guide to not making the mistake of marrying a gold digger in the first place.