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These Financial Red Flags Could Be Keeping You From “The Perfect Date”

By Jennifer Manni | Citizens Bank Staff

Many people are searching for that picture-perfect relationship, the one you see in so many movies. For you hopeless romantics, that usually involves kissing in the rain after a dramatic fight or declaration of love. For others, a night in on the couch eating tacos is all you need.

But what actually happens in reality? Nights with friends spent overanalyzing every word or text message, fearful of being ghosted or that too much swiping will result in you becoming a lonely cat person.

What you may not realize is that finances can play a big role in romantic relationships. When you strip out all the smoke and mirrors from the movies, a relationship involves having honest conversations and being on the same page about things like finances.

Read on to learn what financial red flags could stop your budding romance in its tracks. Names have been changed to protect the (not so) innocent.

Red Flag #1: Mismanaged debt

“I had drinks with this guy John I met at a poetry slam. After a few rounds he requested the bill. I offered to split it, and he chivalrously said no. After having three cards declined, he complained about his WIFE maxing out all their cards. While he called his wife to yell about their finances, I paid the bill and left.” – Melissa

Mismanagement of debt is a major turnoff. Studies show that 30% of Americans wouldn’t date someone with credit card debt. With that in mind, credit card debt can negatively impact you a lot more than other debt, since interest rates are substantially higher on credit cards than they are on student loans, mortgages, or other loans.

  • Pro tip: It’s important to keep in mind why someone is in debt. Did they get into an accident that caused substantial medical bills, or did they just have too much fun at the bar?

There are lots of ways to help you pay down credit card debt and get you back on track. You could look into consolidation with a no-balance-transfer-fee card, or one with 0% APR. Also, you can try the debt “snowball” – tackle smaller debt and then move on to larger line items, so you feel accomplished every step of the way.

Red Flag #2: Not living independently

If living at home is a major turnoff for you, you aren’t alone. According to a Wayfair survey, 48% of people say that living with parents is a no-go. That doesn’t sound promising for the 32% of 18- to 34-year-olds who live with their parents.

There are plenty of socially acceptable reasons why more people are choosing to live at home, such as taking care of aging parents or grandparents, paying down debt, or saving up for a specific goal like a mortgage down payment.

To help set yourself up for dating success, you should be willing to have the conversation about your housing situation. Or, maybe it’s time to think about living independently.

Red Flag #3: No car

“After dating Paul for a few months, he was having car issues. In a ploy to sound sweet rather than needy, he said that he really enjoys seeing me, but he needs a new transmission for his car, so he asked me to borrow the money for it.” – Jess

Asking someone you’ve recently met to help with money problems is certainly a red flag. But depending on where you live, not owning a car doesn’t have to be. Ride sharing is really popular today – so someone not owning a car may not ruffle your feathers. But what if not having a vehicle, or a poorly maintained one, is a symptom of a bigger problem? It could signal a habit of poor money management.

On the other hand, a recent survey shows 92% of people would rather date someone with no monthly car payment, than a person who drives a nice car coupled with a high monthly payment. It all comes down to making the right financial decision for you.

What to remember

Although we may not want to admit it, finances can play a big part in romantic relationships. Make sure you’re aware of potential red flags and how to avoid them. Having honest conversations early on is a great way to build a solid foundation. The truth is; life isn’t perfect, but you can be as prepared as possible when you stumble upon the right person.


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