Money Talks, So Should You

Q&A: How can I tell if my partner is financially stable?

Ann Minnium
by Ann Minnium, The Garrett Network  (@AnnMinnium)

People are always on the lookout for a financially stable partner, but what you may not realize is that there is a big difference between people who live like they are rich and people who are actually wealthy. There are many of the former, but identifying the latter can be much more difficult. The real signs of wealth are far subtler than an expensive dinner or a flashy car. Don’t worry, though. You can do it.

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Here are five handsome financial habits that beat a winning smile every time:

1. Wealthy individuals are more conservative with their money. This does not mean they are cheap. It simply means that they make careful, thoughtful decisions when it comes to their finances. They are not looking to solve every problem by whipping out their wallet. These people are not out to prove themselves or compensate for other weaknesses. The spenders are those who live like they are rich.

2. Do they save or contribute regularly to their employer-sponsored retirement plan? Wealthy people have good savings habits. They sock it away and are willing to deny themselves immediate gratification for future comfort.

3. Look out for heavy credit card use! Credit card debt is a big problem. If they seem to be using a credit card for everything, you might want to take a look at their balance sheet. Are they paying off that bill at the end of the month or carrying a balance and financing their habit at 25%?  If it’s the latter, your may want to start running in the opposite direction.

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4. People who understand what it is like to struggle financially will be more willing to work hard, save, and make long-term plans. I have a young client who is motivated to save because he sees how tough it is for his grandmother to survive on Social Security alone. At age 25 he has almost $50,000 in retirement savings! There is a good chance he will be retiring with millions when the time comes. Too bad my daughter is only ten.

5. Do they have specific life and work goals they are willing to work for? Make sure your boyfriend wants to do more than earn a lot of money.  He should be someone who wants to “do” something or wants to achieve a goal for a reason. Money, like food, enables us to thrive, but should not be a life goal.  After all, do you want to spend to live or live to spend?

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So if your partner or loved one doesn’t exude wealth now, never fear as long as they have good habits and long-term goals. They will likely end up wealthy.  It’s the ones who seem to have ample cash but poor financial practices that you need to look out for—no matter how winning their smile.


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Ann Minnium is the founder and principal of Concierge Financial Planning, LLC. She is among a minority of hourly, fee-only financial planning professionals who have earned the certified financial planner mark, conferred by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.