Whats Your Deal Breaker?

The other day, my boyfriend and I were getting ready for work and chatting about couple stuff, like grocery shopping and our bank accounts.

In the midst of our conversation, J said something that made me realize just how few people know how credit cards actually work. He told me that he was under the impression that if he made the minimum payment on his balance, he wouldn't have to pay interest.

Now, he is far from out of the ordinary in this respect. There were actually quite a few things that came as a surprise to me about credit cards as I have learned and read more about them, and I've been a card holder for years.

After explaining to J that you still have to pay interest on the balance on your card regardless of whether you make the minimum payment, I began to consider how lucky I am that J still pays off his credit cards every month, so that he doesn't incur interest and stays ahead of the game. He hates debt, like myself, and we use our credit cards as tools to get ahead, so not much damage was done due to his lack of knowledge.

I then began to consider what wold be a financial deal breaker for me. I have never had to deal with a situation financially with J that forced me to make a tough decision, but if I were put in a precarious position that way, what would make me walk away?

J has always been a good saver; his parents are frugal so he ended up embracing some of that frugality. He also makes a decent wage and we work together to keep our expenses at bay. I've been spoiled by never having to worry about his spending habits.

I think a big deal breaker for me would be "bad" debt for him, if he all of a sudden starting sacrificing a secure financial future for us for the sake of stuff.

It's not because I want to be filthy rich and expect him to never spend a dime. No. But if he all of a sudden got a knack for spending a bunch of money on stuff he didn't need, falling into a bunch of credit card debt as a grown man, I would troubled by his priorities; especially as he gets older and we near the time in our lives where we get married, buy a house and have kids - all expensive ventures.

To me, it wouldn't be the actually money that broke the deal, but rather a lack of respect for our lives together and what we are trying to build.

Luckily, I highly doubt J will get to that point and I think this has been a great learning experience for him.

What would be your deal breaker?



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56 thoughts on “Whats Your Deal Breaker?

  1. Katie

    I would freak out too Daisy. This reminds me of my husband often saying "I'll never be able to retire, I'll have to work until the day I die." (He says this because his boss does not offer retirement savings.)And of course if you don't care about saving money to retire you never will be able to. I can't get the concept through his head that you have to save for yourself.

    It's good for this kind of stuff to come out before you get married (if you are going to) I hope you can explain how interest works to him.

  2. The same as yours probably. It's hard though because I'm far from perfect (and have a ton of credit card debt from days of unemployment) so he'd have to really be a mess for me to feel justified in haranguing him.

  3. "So after staring at him with blank disbelief for a few seconds, I freaked the fuck out." It's funny what people pay attention to and understand versus not. You being involved with financial bloggers, your reaction makes perfect sense; but if that's not his arena, then... it was a funny read though. I'm not sure I've ever thought about deal breakers though. ANd since I'm alrady married, I guess that ship has sailed.

  4. The Happy Homeowner

    I would have definitely had the same reaction. My deal breaker would be this as well as if we were never able to agree on financial priorities.

    I struggle with this now with my BF, and I have to admit that sometimes I wonder if we'll ever be on the same page financially in terms of our spending. Luckily, he's a great saver as well but I think it's more because he makes boatloads and less because he's aware of how miscellaneous spending can add up so quickly.

    1. The Happy Homeowner

      Oops--my comment is a bit unclear--I don't struggle with the CC thing with BF now, just the spending mindlessly part :p

  5. Emily @ evolvingPF

    I'm a bit confused. Do you keep your money separate from your boyfriend's? If so, while I can understand you would be upset that he's paying interest unnecessarily, what does that have to do with your student loans? If you have combined your money, why wouldn't you have known about this credit card already?

    I don't think I have any financial "dealbreakers" as such, but there are definitely people with whom I would not be a good financial "fit." Spenders. People who don't want to give or save for the future. People who want to ignore their finances.

    1. Woops, I should have given a bit of background in this post. We keep our money separate, but we're working toward the same goal - home ownership (and obviously financial security). We keep it separate mainly because we're not married but plan to get married, at which point some (but not all) of our finances will be combined.

      Paying interest unnecessarily on a credit card, to me, is doing a disservice to us (as a couple, and a future family), especially if debt (ie my student loans) is preventing us from reaching our goals and that interest payment could be rerouted to better serve us in the long run.

      I guess also to me, I already have debt (student loans), so adding a bunch of consumer debt (unnecessarily, it isn't even student loans or a mortgage) to our financial picture is irresponsible.

  6. I think it's important here to separate what is upsetting you - is it the actual financial ramifications of this debt, or is it that he did not tell you about it and that makes you worried about communication issues? I cannot advise you on the latter, but if it is the financial aspect, I think you might be blowing things out of proportion.

    Even if his credit card is something high like 20%, that means he is paying $30 a month in interest. I don't really know what he was putting money on his credit card for, but maybe take it easy on him. That's a couple of Starbucks a week; not the end of the world.

    We all make mistakes, and this one seems like it got nipped in the bud before anything serious happened.

    1. I think all of the above. I think the main issue is that he's an adult and didn't do his due diligence - it's one thing if you're 18, and get your first credit card and didn't read the fine print, but it's a whole other ball park if you're 26, own your own business, and had somebody (me) explain it to you that apparently just went in one ear and out the other - so I guess communication too.

      I probably did blow it out of proportion (in my mind, especially) but it's also so out of character for him to do something like this that it made me wonder if we're on the same page. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not always the most reasonable person 🙂

  7. When I first met my husband, he had a LOT of credit card debt. A LOT. He was single, made decent money, and didn't really mind carrying a balance. He's in FINANCE---he should know better!

    He was working on paying down his debt, but had no problem whipping out the credit card for a night on the town. Once we started seriously dating I let him know that I think you shouldn't carry a balance unless it's an emergency.

    We moved in together about a year after dating and then got engaged. By the time we got engaged, the only debt he had was my ring but he told me he had a plan to pay it off by the wedding(and it was 0% interest). I wasn't thrilled about that, but whatever. He also promised me that he wouldn't carry a balance on his credit cards, but I honestly wasn't sure he could do it.

    I'm proud to say that during our engagement he didn't carry a balance, paid off my ring before the wedding, and has done a total 180 into "Mr. Responsibility". We've been married 14 months and we don't carry credit card debt, we save a ton of money, and we still have a lot of fun, we just don't spend aimlessly. People CAN change, but I know not all people are like him. I'm really proud of him...he's come a long way in less than 4 years 🙂

  8. I have to agree with a few people - confused about how this is related to your school debt?

    Luckily for me the bf is good with money and in my case, my own debt was a dealbreaker for him. He was incredibly adamant about me paying off my school loan and that is what gave me the extra motivation to do it so fast. Now I'm super frugal and know I'll never get myself into debt again!

  9. That would be quite frustrating, but I don't completely blame him. Too many people today just do not have any kind of education about their personal finances. I previously thought it was fine to just pay the minimum payment on my credit card too. I did know that it was still forcing me to pay interest when I did that though. So hopefully you don't hold it against him too much and just treat it as a learning experience.

  10. The interest charged is usually on the same page of the credit card statement as the minimum payment required. Maybe he didn't look thoroughly enough. My problem is I've got over $200,000 of debt 😕 . But at least none of that is bad debt.

  11. MommaStar

    Oman. I'm glad you were able to reach him before the balance got even higher. I think my deal breaker would be financing. Husband was one of those that would say let's finance it. We'll pay it off in no time. Lucky for him he know longer thinks like that or we wouldn't be married still.

  12. I would probably have the same reaction as you did. I can see my fiance doing something like that, but luckily he doesn't have a credit card. He's really frugal, but beyond that he doesn't really know how personal finances work. He's gradually learning and taking more responsibilty, which is more important to me than making a few rookie mistakes every once in awhile.

    I think the deal breaker for me would be a lack of care or discipline when it comes to spending and a feeling of entitlement to have all the latest gadgets

  13. Don't blame him, blame the education system. There are no courses for financial well being as we went through school. If one thing needs to be updated in this country, it is the education curriculum. My 8 year old son is doing some of the same stuff I did in school almost 30 years ago!

  14. John @ Married (with Debt)

    Wow - when I wrote about things to talk about before getting married, I didn't think to include "find out if they know how a credit card works."

    I hate finding out I've been wrong for a long time, like when I found out Elton John wasn't saying "Hold me closer, Tony Danza."

  15. Wow, I would have been pretty upset too. It's one of those moments where you shout (in your head) "BUT I KNOW YOU'RE SMARTER THAN THAT!!!!!!")

    I was actually really worried about a financial mismatch. I ended my first serious relationship because I was having panic attacks at the thought of ever being financially dependent on him - he was SO bad with money. I didn't mind him not earning as much as me; I DID mind him pawning his TV so he could go snowboarding before payday. I was terrified that I'd be pregnant and unable to work and we'd starve because I truly did not trust that he wouldn't spend the grocery money on video games.

    My next relationship also had some money issues - he was okay with money but it didn't have the same priority in his life. He didn't keep track of things, didn't read bills carefully, didn't look for deals. It could maybe have worked, but I found it really stressful.

    When I met Peanut, the world opened up - I found someone who shared a ton of things in common with me, INCLUDING the desire to be financially secure. The day we shared our spreadsheets with one another was a pivotal moment in our early relationship - I know, how nerdy does this sound, but it's true. Early on, you're like, Hmmm, I don't know, where could this go...when I saw his color coded! categorized! spreadsheet! I was like, Hmmm, oh, yes, I see EXACTLY where this could go. 😆

    1. This is so cute! 😀 My fiance is definitely not as into personal finance as I am, but he has never had any credit card debt and is actually pretty debt averse. Most importantly, he understands why we need to try to establish financial security and he works with me toward our goals.

  16. My deal breaker is trust! If I could not trust my spouse, that would be my deal breaker. I bet it ti strue for my wife too. We can and do trust each other that is why we have beeen (43 years)married so long.

  17. Edward Antrobus

    Dealbreaker? I never really got the idea. I don't like the concept that there is a single thing that could make a person go from loving another person to NOT loving that person. But that's just me.

  18. I'd definitely nip it in the bud. I'm a big "on the same page" guy when it comes to finances. I'm definitely more extreme than Wifey McGee, but we're both savers and she was debt free except for a mortgage of 50% of her home value when we met. So we're lucky with that.

    I just wouldn't be happy with a debtaholic, so that would be a deal breaker for me. I'd constantly be worried that she was piling up debt or that we were on shaky grounds.

  19. Anthony Thompson

    Considering that you and your BF have been discussing future plans to marry and build a life together, I think that you're justified to freak the f#%@ out. You want to absolutely be sure that you both are financially on the same page, before you tie the knot.

    On the other hand, I feel bad for him that he hasn't developed the same mindset as you have with respect to credit card debt. Somewhere in his personal development, he hadn't received an in-depth personal finance education, and unfortunately he is joined by millions of other people.

    However, he can get better if he chooses to. It might help if both of you attended some sought of couples personal finance seminar that will help you address your future plans as they relate to your financial concerns.

  20. Oh yikes! Hopefully you were able to explain how it all works to him so he understands how credit card interest works now? Maybe no one ever explained it to him? I know credit card companies like to make cards sound a lot better than they and they can be really tricky when people don't read the fine print. Good luck! -Sydney

  21. My deal breaker would be someone who has lots of debt, no savings and no idea when it comes to finances. I've made it this far and only have my car loan, I don't want to go into marriage or a committed relationship with someone thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt. Not my idea of a good time.

  22. Hahahah I totally remember this on twitter. You were livid! And I would be too. I think yeah it would be weird if all of a sudden the BF started charging stuff and paying the minimum payment. Luckily he has really good spending constraints (a bit too much if you ask me, but better safe than sorry).

    My deal breaker would be if he funded everything on credit, and if he lied to me about his finances and credit - like if he withheld a lot of important info from me, purposely. That would really hurt. When we first met, he was spending a lot of his student loans on frivolous stuff. Luckily I wasn't into finances back then, but if that was now...holy cow, I'd be SO MAD. It may even be a deal breaker.

  23. My roommate in college opened a credit card, bought some stuff and only paid the minimum the first month. The next month when the bill arrived, he called the card company saying that he never bought anything called 'finance charges' and wanted it removed. Lesson learned by him.

    My deal breaker would be a partner that is out of control with their spending. I knew of a girl that was in $50K of credit card debt because of everything she would buy. And she wasn't buying $1,000 items either. It was fast food, gas, etc. I need someone who knows how much they can spend each month and stays within the limits.

  24. Investing in Silver

    That's pretty bad, I just assumed that anyone who could get a credit card would know how they work. But you now what they say about assumptions. I'm lucky that my girlfriend doesn't have a credit card, because she likes to spend everything that she has. Luckily my expenses are stupid low and I make more than I spend, but it is really frustrating and close to a deal breaker for me.

  25. I will certainly admit that I never really had any financial deal breakers when we were dating. Because if I would had, nobody would have talked to me - I was a wreck financially!

    Financially speaking there may have been none, but I'm not a fan of fighting. I grew up around it a lot as a child and I just don't tolerate it. That was one of my initial deal breakers and I've always made that clear. We talk like civilized human beings and we're lucky because we're both very much the same so we rarely argue or fight - different interests for sure but our personalities are the same.

  26. I am with you. It would also upset me. I think mainly because it would be testimate to the fact that they are only thinking about themselves and not the US part. When in a relationship, you have to think collectively, and that includes being on the same page with finances.

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  29. Daisy,
    I have been thinking quite a bit about this post since I read it yesterday. I had a similar experience with a previous live-in (not the smartest thing I ever did) boyfriend. He was a student working very part-time. He literally spent his last dime on a basketball. He wasn’t going to get another paycheck for two more weeks – what about gas, food or helping out with the rent. He proudly displayed his new purchase when I returned home from work. I was livid. I had been working full time supporting both of us, trying to pinch every penny and he goes out and buys something frivolous. He twisted things around saying I was a controlling “B” who wouldn’t let him have any fun. Well this incident wasn’t the end of our relationship, but it should have been. The bottom line was we had different values and goals. When we did break up two years later he brought up the basketball incident again. Too which I asked him how many times had he used that basketball since he purchased it? “Zero” he didn’t even know where it was.
    My current husband has the same values and goals I do. We may not agree on everything, but I have to say this relationship is 100 times better than my previous one and easier. I used to think it was because my husband accepted me the way I am (he didn’t call me a controlling “B” when I told him buying a cd wasn’t a good idea when he lost his job), but I now believe it is more than that – having the same goals and values is a big part of a successful relationship.
    As to your story, at first I thought you should cut your boyfriend some slack - many, many people in this country are financially illiterate and he is most likely one of them. But the more I thought about it, I started wondering where he had been while you were doing everything you could to educate yourself about money and paying down your debts? I think you both need to sit down and have a discussion about goals and values. Pay close attention to how willing he is to change and learn.
    After my husband and I were married he had a credit card with an $800 balance. He would make a $100 payment each month, but continued to use it never paying it off. One of the first things I did was pay off that card. He never carried a credit card balance again. I am hoping your boyfriend does the same.
    FYI – I am so fascinated by this topic I am going to write a post about it.

  30. Daisy,

    If I were in your shoes I would have freaked out too! I think that if you're talking about the long term now is the time to discuss all of your finances and make sure both of you are on the same page, not just with long term financial goals but also with the steps required to reach those goals. Those conversations can take a ton of time but it's way better now then after you get married!

  31. He didn't really say that, did he? I worked for a Credit Card collection company for 10 months and saw a lot of people only paying the minimum due each month. The balance never went down. I think that would be a deal breaker for me too.

  32. "I went over several thousand scenarios in my head about how my boyfriend was going to go all Confessions of a Shopaholic on me and our financial stability would crumble and we’d never be able to buy a house and we’d be drowning in debt and he’d be the next Princess to air on Slice."


  33. Oh tough one. Deal breaker? Failing to work together to solve our financial issues. Developing an addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling) that put our future in jeopardy. Doing something unbelievably stupid (like quitting a good job for no reason... yes, there are good reasons to quit jobs!), without talking about it first.

    From a financial perspective, those are the big ones for me!

    As for your boyfriend's ignorance, sadly, I can more than believe it. I was having lunch with a friend last year who was explaining why taking out a high interest loan (like 35%!!) to pay off a $3,000 debt made sense... she's 40. She should definitely know better!

  34. This would be a big deal to me too! Sometimes the naivety of people is astounding. But then again I was naive and uneducated back in the day, so we all have our learning curves. I'm glad you freaked out and knocked some sense into him. Lol. You go girl!

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  36. Lorillia | Your Money Mentor

    Be easy on him, your approach with explaining to him how credit card interest accumulates is a good idea. Keep us posted on his progress with paying off the cards, since he is a saver. Have him to just PAYITOFF.

  37. Ok, in your boyfriend's defense, maybe the $1800 balance was under a special offer? Credit card companies do offer no interest terms if the full balance is paid in full by a certain amount of time granted the minimum payment is made each month. If that wasn't the case, then he definitely needs to be enlightened.

  38. Young Professional Finances

    I would definitely freak out. I remember when I found out that my boyfriend had a ton of credit card debt - I definitely freaked out and then looked into options for him. Since he was willing to fix it, it wasn't a deal breaker for me, especially since we aren't married yet (so his money is still his money, in my eyes). If he wasn't willing to change then that would definitely be a deal breaker for me.

  39. Entertaining story from this end! Probably not too fun for you. Not a deal breaker, but if you suggested to him to give up his $10/month payment plan and he didn't, is this a deal breaker?

  40. I think a big deal breaker for me would not necessarily be past poor decisions, but a complacency about it. If someone got themselves into a bad spot, but was working to get out of it, that'd be cool, but I don't know if I could handle being with someone with a bunch of credit card debt and no financial literacy who just thought, "Meh, it'll work itself out." I'd go vtazy.

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  42. Julliet

    Ok, this is my deal, I'm with a guy, he is 46, we been together 4 years, he has borrowed money off me, he wasnt paying me back, so i told him he had too but the worst part, I set the AP up. I let him borrow another two times, it was large amounts( I know, I'm not dumb, just in Love) so now after almost 3 1/2 years its finally all paid back. After our trip to Europe soon, he said we should get a rental place together... Guess he thought I could be his financial back up. Hold your horses i said, not this time.... He lives in my freehold house but pays rent & utilities, life aint free.... He ran outta work 3 times & I paid everything in that time & supported MY two kids as well. when I was ,made redundant twice last year, he did not help out, not even once....I asked him once why do you ask me for money, he said cause I made it easy for him... Now he get zip, nada, nothing... & he alsways has nothing... so financial security wasnt really important to me, but after meeting him, it sure it....
    Will our relationship last, No, after this holiday I am on my own, would have done it sooner but have paid for my ticket.... and yes i am no longer in Love with him

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