Note from Amanda: This is a guest post from one of my former coaching clients Sarah Li Cain. Sarah Li Cain is the founder of High Fiving Dollars, a kickass blog showing you that loving your money is not only a priority, but a necessity. Download her free ecourse “High Fiving Your Dollars” so you can have a loving relationship with your money. Oh yeah, her son thinks she’s pretty neat too.
You know that feeling you get when trying to decide on what to get as the perfect gift for our boyfriend (or girlfriend)? The angel on one shoulder says “He’ll love whatever you get. Besides, he’s been talking about wanting to read this book for ages, so it’s perfect!” Meanwhile, the devil on the other shoulder is nudging you to treat him to that expensive trip to Paris, because he mentioned in a conversation once that he thought the Louvre look cool.
Next thing you know, you’ve just entered your credit card information on a travel booking site and pressed “confirm.”
Alright, I know what you’re thinking. Does this really happen?
Yes, because the devil on your other shoulder doesn’t look like the man with red horns. He’s disguised as the L-word: love.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with spending money on someone you love, but it can really cloud our judgement between what our needs and wants are. Sure, you know you have all the tools and education you need to get a handle on your finances, but are you affected by the very people around you?
Look at me. I’d like to consider myself a pretty smart person (go me!), but boy did I make some money blunders when I thought I was with someone I was going to marry.
Let’s take a look at the ridiculous lengths I went to to be with this person. Moving to Australia from Canada for a job, he let me pay the rent, the groceries and trips we went on while we were living there. When I got a promotion and was going to be paid to move across the country, I bought his plane ticket so he could be with me. $9000 worth of consumer debt later, he told me he “wanted a break” when I moved back to Canada after I had quit my job (I wanted to travel with him across Australia and New Zealand, which I obviously paid for).
I don’t want you to end up as I did, penniless, in debt, and with no job. So I’m going to tell you how to recognize the types of people that are going to hurt your finances. The people in your life may not be as extreme as my ex-boyfriend. Actually, many of them mean well.
But if you learn to recognize these types of behavior in people, you can at least step back and evaluate whether or not your spending decisions when you’re around this person is actually good for you.
You Always Have to Go Out to Spend Time With Them
This person things thinks that the only way to have fun is to go out and spend money. I’m not talking about going to expensive dinners. Even spending small amounts of money can add up.
Let’s say they have a few hours to hang out before they have to go to work. Instead of driving over to your house (which is on the way), they suggest that you two head over to a Starbucks for a latte. Or when you’re tired and feel like getting Chinese takeout and watching Netflix, they insist that you go out to a restaurant and the movie theatre, because it’s Friday night.
Or they’re ok with staying at home. But never yours. You always have to go over to theirs, or a friends house, or their parents. And each and every time you’re asked to bring something, like a bottle of wine since you don’t have to cook. Or takeout meals since they rented the movie.
This stuff adds up! Just because their spending habits may be different from yours, doesn’t mean you have to have the same ones too.
It’s no use changing their habits to suit yours. If they make the choice to spend money, it’s theirs to choose. All you can do is control your spending.
It’s really not that hard to do. You just have to say no. It’s not going to hurt your relationship to turn down an offer for coffee every once in awhile. Or even let that person know that the amount you allocated in your budget is close to zero.
Depending on how serious your relationship is (or how comfortable you feel), you could even suggest a “relationship budget” where you both put a certain amount aside each month and pool it together for both of you to spend it on dates or whenever you spend time together.
They Prefer to Pick Up the Check in Turns Instead of Splitting the Bill
You go out to dinner (or anything that you do regularly) and they offer to pay for the meal, saying that the next time you pick up the tab. Great, you think this person is taking care of their part.
Actually, no. This is a very subtle sign that you might be spending more money than you think. What if you went to a cheap diner with them, and the next time they suggest a more upscale restaurant? Or this person picks up the tab for the movies, and the next time you go to the same place you also end up buying popcorn and drinks?
Yeah, you think it’ll even out, but it rarely does. The worse thing is, this person may not even know it. And if you point it out, you’ll probably be met with anger and denial. I know for me, my ex-boyfriend picked up the tab for the first few times we had to get gas for our car, but he magically forgot after that.
So what to do? Split the bill. Or if that isn’t an option, suggest where to go the next time, and make sure it’s within the price range of where you went last time. There’s also nothing wrong with calling it out like it is. Something as simple as “Sorry, this place is not really within my budget. Where else can we go?” works wonders.
They Don’t Help You Celebrate Your Financial Achievements
You start putting more money aside to pay down your student debt. This person makes a comment about how much more you have to pay.
Or you put aside $20 a month towards an IRA and this person says you should put more.
These comments may seem small, but it can be pretty damaging to your money mindset. After all, these types of behaviors are based on a positive money mindset. You should be celebrating these together!
The best thing you can do is to thank them for their comment and respond by saying that you’re proud of what you’ve achieved. Even if it is $20 a month, it’s $20 more you’re saving each month, right?
What Can I Do If They Don’t Change?
I’m no relationship expert, nor do I claim to be. All I know is that every situation is different. When I was with my ex-boyfriend in Australia, all of those signs were there. I knew in my gut that this person was no good for me, but I ignored it. And look what happened to me.
If some of the signs mentioned happen every once in awhile, it might not be a dealbreaker. But if the person you’re with is consistently exhibiting all of these behaviors, it might be time to reevaluate your relationship.
At the end of the day, you are too valuable to just let someone dictate how you should manage your finances, purposely or not. You deserve to be wealthy. Now go surround yourself around people who can help make that happen.