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Five Signs You're Dating a Deadbeat


On this site, we talk a lot about how to be on the same financial page as your spouse. But what about those of you who are in the dating world? How can you know whether or not you're dating a financial deadbeat?

That's a question that co-authors Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar tackle in the book Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money with Your Honey. In this book, the authors list five warning signs that may signal you're dating a deadbeat.

1. They grab the check without looking at the bill.

What some people interpret as "generosity" might actually be a warning sign of a big spender.

A person who grabs a check or otherwise throws down their credit card without scanning the bill might be a flashy spender who is living beyond his or her means.

2. They lease a car.

This point is sure to be controversial. After all, lots of people lease cars. But according to the authors, the sales pitch for leasing a car is, fundamentally, "You can get more car for less money than if you buy outright." While there are some instances in which leasing a car makes sense, the authors say that a leased car is, generally speaking, a warning sign of a big spender.

3. They have a large but sparsely furnished home.

The authors compare having a big house, with very little furniture inside, to having what the Texans call "big hat, no cattle." In other words, the person may have stretched themselves financially to buy more house than they can afford, and now they don't have the money to furnish their own abode.

4. They avoid answering phone calls.

According to the authors, if your sweetie is screening their calls, they might be worried about bill collectors who are trying to collect on their outstanding debts. (The same may also be true for people who avoid opening their mail.)

5. They ask you to cosign loans or buy things for them.

Frankly speaking, no financially responsible person would ever ask you to cosign on a loan, the authors say. They describe this behavior is particularly "fishy."

Should I Dump Him or Her?

This list of five warning signs is sure to raise a little bit of controversy. After all, some of the items on this list, like grabbing the bill without looking at it first, might be a sign of somebody who is absentminded, spontaneous or perhaps just being generous.

Don't dump your date after a single instance of seeing that person throw down on a credit card on a big bill. You might be getting a financially responsible person who legitimately has the means available to try to impress you.

This list of warning signs is simply meant to clue you into the instances when you should stay on alert. Leasing a car, by itself, isn't a surefire sign that you're dating a deadbeat. But leasing a car in conjunction with asking you to cosign on a loan might be a giant red flag. Not answering the phone, by itself, might simply mean that they're trying to avoid a nagging aunt or their irritating ex-girlfriend/boyfriend. Or it might be a sign of deeper financial trouble.

By the way, you might be wondering why we are conflating the term "deadbeat" with the term "big spender". It's simply because big spenders often live beyond their means. No one can do that forever. Sooner or later the bill collectors catch up. When that happens, they transition from a "flashy spender" or a "generous person" to a deadbeat who looks to their family, friends and their significant other (that's you!) for a bailout.

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