I’m really bad about the whole “yours vs. mine vs. ours” thing. I’m a really generous person, and it’s bit me in the ass more times than I care to admit. I think I was about 12 years old the first time someone else wiped out my bank account for me – and that was just the first time I let it happen.
It’s easy to excuse ourselves, and tell ourselves that we’re not responsible for the things that happen to us. And, in many ways, that’s true. But if you continually find yourself broke, despite doing everything in your power, you might have one of these 4 toxic financial relationships in your life – how many can you still fix?
The Broke Friend
I was The Broke Friend for what feels like the longest time. I was with someone who didn’t want me to work, because of her own insecurities, and as such I was the friend who would wait for someone else to offer to pay my way. I hated it – but some people are a lot more comfortable with the idea. If you’ve got a Chronically Broke Friend in your life, you might need to cut some ties – at least until they get their finances sorted out.
According to motivational speaker Jim Rohn, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. While there are probably a million ways to interpret that message, it makes sense that bad money habits can be contagious – if you let them. If you have a friend (or friends) who are constantly short on cash and asking for hand-outs like it was their job, you need to evaluate whether they actually belong in your life.
A good friend will take responsibility for their situation, instead of asking you to bail them out all the time. It’s 100% okay to terminate toxic relationships – even if you’ve known that person for your entire life. You are under no obligation to stay friends with someone who brings you down (even if they’re just bringing down the average of your main squad.)
The Irresponsible Family Member
The Irresponsible Family Member is almost as bad as the Broke Friend, except that they’ll probably straight-up tell you that they aren’t going to pay you back. After all, you’re family – and family helps family, right? Your Broke Friends know that their place in your life is voluntary, and they’re going to try a little harder not to screw it up.
Whenever you’re confronted with a request for money, you need to consider a few things first. Can you afford to lose the money you’re putting out? Statistically speaking, friends and family probably aren’t going to pay you back. Even if they do pay you back, it can put a major strain on the friendship as it is. If you do decide to lend to them, be sure to establish clear boundaries and ground rules before you write that check – and then follow through on what you said. You want to lead by example, and you want this person to be responsible with your money.
While lending money to friends and family is generally discouraged, there are going to be situations when you feel the need to help out. When these situations come up, make sure you know what to expect before you go in – and maybe take the time to set up a loan contract, too. It’s not selfish to take care of your own financial needs first. It’s short-sighted not to. Your budget comes first, including saving for the future – don’t let someone else destroy your plans.
The Gold Digger
For a really long time, I thought I was immune to the effects of gold diggers. After all, I was a lesbian making just over minimum wage – surely the women who didn’t want to work would be aiming a little higher, like rich male CEO’s, right? Well, unfortunately, no one is immune to the Gold Digger’s trap – all it takes to make you vulnerable is the willingness to share what you’ve worked hard for, with someone who hasn’t worked for it.
When it comes to spotting a gold digger, the signs aren’t always so obvious if you’re not so well off. However, a woman who’s only with you for your money will expect you to pay for everything (or most things). She’ll come to you first if she has any financial troubles, but if you start to struggle, she’s nowhere to be found. More signs can be found here, but every situation is different. You’ll need to use your own discretion as you look through the microscope at your relationship.
When dealing with a gold digger, the easiest thing to do is sometimes to just walk away. Despite whatever she might say in protest, she was probably getting along just fine before you came into the picture, and she’ll find a way to make it work again on her own. You should never be pressured into financially supporting someone who isn’t willing to help you out, too.
The Big Spender
Finally, believe it or not, someone can be wealthy (or better-off) and still be bad with money. Some women spend outside their means because they’re trying to create an image for themselves. Other women are emotional spenders who impulse-buy without a second thought. There are even women who are clinically addicted to spending money – yes, shopaholics really are addicts. (That link also offers a few tests to see where your own spending habits lie.)
While there are a bunch of different reasons for shopping (and spending) addictions, it’s important that you treat this subject carefully. Your spend-happy partner might need some serious counseling to help undo years of compulsive shopping, and she has to actively want to get better or it’s never going to work.
Until she gets her spending under control, you should resist the urge to go “joint” on any financial decisions. Cosigning for a loan with her has the potential to ruin your bank account, and signing for a large purchase with someone who’s fiscally irresponsible is not a smart choice, either. Do your best to help her sort out her issues, but don’t make yourself vulnerable to her habits. Remember, your money mistakes can cost you for years – so don’t let your partner be one of them!