Survey Finds Overspending Is Killing Your Relationship

Relationship deal breakers

Money management and salary aren’t typical topics to bring up when you first start dating. Yet, financial compatibility is one of the ingredients necessary to build a lasting relationship. That’s why it’s important to know your financial deal breakers — as well as your own less-attractive money traits that could threaten a healthy relationship.

“Watching out for financial deal breakers could help you to build a better relationship based on trust, communication and honesty,” said Tiffany Welka, a wealth management advisor who works with individuals and couples. She’s also the vice president of financial services company VFG Associates. “If you’re willing to open yourself up romantically and physically with someone, you should be willing to open yourself up financially to this person as well.”

To find the most common financial deal breakers that can cause problems in a relationship or kill it before it even starts, GOBankingRates conducted a poll that reveals Americans’ most common money turn-offs. Maybe you agree with the most common financial deal breaker, and maybe it’s something you should work on for yourself. Either way, see where you stand.

Keep Reading: 5 Signs You Aren’t Ready to Combine Finances With Your Partner

Survey Findings: The Biggest Financial Deal Breakers in Romantic Relationships

The poll posed the question, “Which of the following are the most significant financial deal breakers for you in a relationship?” and respondents were prompted to select all answers that applied:

  • Doesn’t make enough money
  • Overspending
  • Poor credit score
  • Secretive about finances
  • Too cheap
  • Too much debt

Alternately, the respondent could select only “none of the above.” A high portion, 46.2 percent, of the responses were “none of the above.” The following analyses are based on the remaining 53.8 percent of responses.

‘Overspending’ Is the Biggest Financial Deal Breaker in Romantic Relationships

Overall, it seems that daters are much more concerned about their romantic partner’s money habits and communication than their income levels or credit score scores, since only 13.9 percent of respondents chose “doesn’t make enough money” at least once.

financial deal breakers survey

Of the listed deal breakers, “overspending” is the biggest money issue for them in a relationship with 37.6 percent of respondents selecting this response at least once. It’s no surprise, since overspending is a common habit — about 40 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, according to a Nielsen study.

Yet, living beyond one’s means can limit fiscal achievements, undermine financial security and lead to other issues, like debt.

“Sure, everyone can use a little retail therapy every now and again, but the key words there are ‘every now and again,'” Welka said. Overspending issues can also make it harder for couples to manage a joint budget peacefully and could cause disagreements. “You don’t want to get involved with someone who easily overspends on things they don’t need,” Welka added.

‘Secretive About Finances’ Is the No. 2 Biggest Financial Deal Breaker

People are nearly as concerned about a partner that is secretive about finance; nearly 36 percent of respondents chose this deal breaker at least once. A survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education, however, shows that about a third of people have kept money secrets from a partner. Among those who keep secrets, this had a strong likelihood of causing problems, with 76 percent saying the financial infidelity affected the relationship.

“If your future spouse is unwilling to discuss their financial situation with you after you have been together for a while, this is oftentimes a red flag,” Welka said.

A similar portion of people said “too much debt” is a financial red flag that would trouble them most. Some debt is okay, said Welka. But, “the deal breaker is when you have debt and aren’t doing anything to decrease it,” she said. “No one wants to get married to someone who is weighed down by a lot of debt and not taking demonstrable action to pay it down, because you might find yourself in a situation where you’re helping to pay off your partner’s debt — and taking on financial responsibilities that you shouldn’t have to do.”

After “too much debt,” respondents chose “too cheap” (19.8 percent), “poor credit” (18.2 percent) and “doesn’t make enough money” (13.9 percent) as top financial deal breakers.

Related: How You Can Finally Stop Fighting About Money in Your Relationship

Women Have More Financial Deal Breakers Than Men

Women have more financial deal breakers than men, selecting 1.7 of the six deal breakers on average compared to men’s average of 1.5. Looking at the total responses chosen by men and women, including multiple answers from the same respondent, GOBankingRates found that men and women are about equally bothered by partners who have too much debt, have a bad credit score or don’t make enough money.

Men, however, are significantly more concerned about overspending than women, with this accounting for 27.2 percent of their responses compared to 20.2 percent for women. This trend remained constant from a similar survey GOBankingRates conducted in 2015, which also indicated that men are more likely to find overspending to be a red flag in romantic relationships.

The most common money deal breaker for women, however, is being secretive about finances — this made up 25.1 percent of total responses from women. This indicates that women might be placing more importance on financial transparency and trust with their partners. Women are also more likely than men to say that a partner that’s too cheap could strain their relationship, at 14.1 percent and 11.8 percent, respectively.

Financial Deal Breakers in Relationships by Age

Overall, the big financial deal breakers remained largely consistent across age groups. “Overspending” is the most frequently chosen deal breaker for every age group, with the exception of older Gen Xers (ages 45 to 54) who are slightly more concerned about partners being secretive about finances.

Age does correlate, however, to concerns about partners having too much debt and being too cheap. Older respondents are more likely to be worried by partners’ or potential partners’ debt, with 18.2 percent of the youngest group selecting this answer compare with 23.4 percent of those 65 and over.

Conversely, young people are more likely to be turned off by a significant other who is too cheap; 14.6 percent of young millennials chose this answer compared with just 11.2 percent of those 65 and over.

Lastly, those 55 and over are the least likely to be concerned with their partners’ income; only 7.8 percent of baby boomers and 7.1 percent of seniors chose this answer.

Keep Reading: How to Save Money When Dating or In a Relationship

Recognizing financial red flags in a relationship can be a healthy way to secure a financial future, but remember to look within yourself, as well, Welka said. If you have bad habits or a rocky financial past, you can overcome them — but make sure you’re doing it for yourself, not just for your significant other.

“If you change for someone else, your true habits are not yours. And if for some reason something doesn’t work out, it will be very easy to fall back to your old habits,” Welka said. “Once you do this for yourself, you will make yourself more attractive to someone else.”

Methodology: These findings are the result of a Google Consumer Survey that collected answers from 5,003 respondents from Dec. 30, 2015 to Jan. 1, 2016. The survey posed the query, “Which of the following are the most significant financial deal breakers for you in a relationship? (Choose those that apply)” and allowed respondents to choose “None of the above” or one or more of the following six responses, displayed in random order: (1) “doesn’t make enough money,” (2) “overspending,” (3) “poor credit,” (4) “secretive about finances,” (5) “too cheap,” or (6) “too much debt.” Analyses are based on all responses, excluding “none of the above” answers. For analyses related to age and gender, this findings only report on responses for which Google provided the relevant demographic information.

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