How to Audit Your Life for Potentially Money-Draining Relationships and Behaviors


If you’ve ever had a heated argument with a significant other about an unplanned purchase, secret debt, spending habits, or any other money-related topic, you know the impact that finances can have on a relationship. In fact, studies continue to show that the strain of financial incompatibility can be hugely detrimental to a marriage, often times ending in divorce.

It makes sense that money issues would arise in the process of running a household with someone who might have different habits and priorities than you. The truth is, however, money is so engrained in our physical and emotional life experience, the state of our finances aren’t just impacted by a marriage. They are impacted by a variety of relationships, behaviors, and life forces we may not even be aware of.

Being firmly in control of your financial picture sometimes means taking a hard look at these things that might be placing unnecessary strain on your wallet and, in turn, your well being.

Here are a few things to look for:

Feeling obligated to spend money in a way that makes you resentful

Obligation, or more importantly, the feeling of being obligated, is a powerful force when it comes to spending money.

I recently had a conversation with a close friend about responsibilities as maid of honor in her friend’s upcoming wedding. In addition to the cost of traveling out of town for the wedding, paying for the dress and shoes, and buying a gift for the couple, the bride wanted the wedding party to fork up the cash for a week long bachelorette party out of the country.

She felt obligated to go along with the plans, despite the astronomical price tag that went with them.

While this may be a (hopefully) one-time situation, it brings up an important point: if we are constantly being pushed to spend money in a way we resent afterwards, and this is a common theme in a particular relationship, it’s time to notice the drain and decide how to address it.

Believing money is a requirement to maintain a relationship

Over the years my group of friends has morphed into one where everyone is successful – monetarily and otherwise – in what they do. Money, for the most part, isn’t a huge issue for any of them.

But you wouldn’t know it just by looking at them or by paying attention to how we spend our time together. Money is not a necessity to maintaining any of these relationships, and, if at some point it became an issue for me, I would feel entirely comfortable asking to amend plans that required a substantial amount of it.

Spending a significant amount of money shouldn’t be at the crux of any relationship, and if you find yourself avoiding certain people depending on your current financial situation, chances are the relationship is a drain on your wallet and probably not very emotionally healthy either.

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Constantly experiencing guilt tied to a certain behavior or relationship

If you are reading this blog or participating in any behavior related to positive money management, there is some part of you – large or small – that wants to make forward progress towards financial stability. Therefore, the habits or behaviors you participate in that contradict this desire will undoubtedly show up in the way you feel afterwards.

This is not to say that our feelings are always accurate in pointing to right or wrong. I, for one, have a tendency to feel extreme guilt over things I probably shouldn’t. Instead, it points to an area where some type of examination should take place.

If you are constantly spending money in a way that makes you feel awful afterwards because deep down you know it goes against your goals, it’s time to use that feeling point you to a more positive behavior or habit choice.

Participating in relationships or behaviors that require you to be anything but authentic

Talking debt in exact dollars and cents doesn’t necessarily have to be a conversation in every relationship, but real connections can’t be forged or real changes made if you aren’t honest with yourself and those closest to you.

Struggle is universal. Maybe your neighbor with the huge bank balance is working through a painful divorce, maybe the friend who just bought a shiny new ride is dealing with the aftermath of a tumultuous childhood. The look and feel of the struggle will vary, but we all have it.

If you can’t be authentic about your struggles, you will most likely put your forward growth and movement on hold if the relationship seems to call for it. The subsequent strain this can put on you and your finances is not worth the payback of maintaining an inauthentic relationship. It never is.

Closing thoughts

My mom always instilled in me the idea that if a choice or relationship felt bad, it most likely was. Those feelings are just the physical representation of our intuition.

When it comes to noticing the money drains in your life, pay careful attention to those feelings. They hold more weight than you may even realize.

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