One of the unfortunate side effects of financial success is that it puts a bullseye on your back. Where there’s money, there will always be people looking to take advantage of those who earned it or saved it.
If you’re well off — or if the people in your life perceive you as being better off than they are — prepare to be disappointed by some of your friends, relatives, love interests, acquaintances from your past and even professionals who are supposed to be looking out for your best interests.
Using insight from Psychology Today, the American Psychological Association and various other financial and self-help sources, GOBankingRates identified the red flags that let you know when someone in your life sees dollar signs when they look at you. Here they are.
They Make Assumptions About Your Income or Finances
According to Forbes and CNBC, wealthy people are more likely to achieve a high net worth through consistent and disciplined money management than through a big salary. Most who get rich do so by spending within their means, avoiding debt, saving religiously and living frugally over time.
But toxic people who take advantage see only the tip of the iceberg — a nice house, a fast car, an exotic vacation, whatever — and not the years of hard work, risk and sacrifice that supports it from underneath.
Whether it’s a friend, a relative or someone you’re dating, be on the lookout for some variation of the phrase, “What do you care, you’re loaded?”
Once someone in your life adopts that mentality, they’ve decided that money is somehow cheaper and comes easier to you than it does to them. Once they justify taking advantage of you in their minds, a toxic financial relationship is never far behind.
They Use Your Success to Guilt You
If you get comments like “it must be nice” when you talk about going on vacation or going out to a nice dinner, you can bet it’s not a heartfelt sentiment. According to money and business coach Matt McWilliams, that kind of insincere utterance is a classic passive-aggressive guilting technique that jealous people use to remind you that they can’t afford the things you’re describing — and that you should feel guilt or shame about the fact that you can.
The implication is that what you have came easy, that they’ve been denied the same opportunities and that if you were a good person, you’d even the score by giving them some of what you have.
They’re laying the foundation that will allow them to take financial advantage of you in the near future.
They Feel Entitled to a One-Way Financial Street
If you pick up the tab for dinner or a concert with a date, a friend, an adult child, a sibling or anyone else in your life, the response should be gratitude and, at some point, an offer of reciprocation. But if that act of generosity sets a precedent that assumes you’ll pay every time moving forward, then it’s the first step on a path to a toxic financial relationship.
Writing for the Guardian, advice columnist Eleanor Gordon-Smith advises you to be wary of anyone who feels entitled to treat what’s yours as if it’s theirs because you were kind enough to share it with them once.
It’s not just money. People with this personality trait will take the same liberties with your precious time, energy, emotions and personal space. In other words, if you let someone like this spend the night once, they’ll show up with a pillow and blanket the next time without asking.
Once this pattern is established, the only way out is to stop paying.
Your Loved Ones Are Leery of This New Person in Your Life
Love is blind and greed can be blinding, which is why people are so vulnerable to ignoring what should be obvious warning signs from new romantic partners and financial opportunities that seem too good to be true.
When a shady money advisor or new squeeze with bad intentions enters your life, it’s the people who love you that are likely to smell a rat first. But if they broach the subject and express their misgivings, they’re often ignored or met with hostility.
From lottery winners seeking investment opportunities to widows and widowers looking for love online, smart people fall into traps that they should have seen coming because they wanted to believe what the new person in their life was saying.
If the people who have always been in your life don’t trust the intentions of someone who just arrived in your life, take it seriously.
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