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10 signs you're dating a deadbeat

Is your sweetheart truly financially responsible and not living paycheck to paycheck or drowning in debt? There are indicators to look for.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 8, 2013 11:47AM

Updated Feb. 27, 2013, at 10:55 a.m. ET.


This post comes from Len Penzo at partner blog Len Penzo dot Com.


Len Penzo dot Com logoI'm very fortunate that the Honeybee and I rarely have a disagreement regarding money. In fact, I can only remember it happening once in more than 16 years of marriage -- and it was all due to a silly misunderstanding.


A recent study discussed in The Wall Street Journal affirms the conventional wisdom that money is the most likely point of conflict in a marriage. When a married couple have different philosophies regarding the importance of financial responsibility, big problems are likely somewhere down the road. Many times, the solution ends up being a messy and expensive divorce.

Businessman gesturing © Constantini Michele, PhotoAlto Agency RF, Getty ImagesOf course, that's why it's important to know if your partner is financially compatible with you before you tie the knot.


So, does your current steady have his or her financial act together?


If you don't know, you had better find out. Just because your flame is spoiling you doesn't mean that he (or she) can afford it.


True, your lover may seem to be financially well-off, but will he be able to maintain his lifestyle after you get married? And if not, does he possess the discipline required to throttle back on the spending pedal?


Unfortunately, folks who fail to ask those simple questions often end up being led into a financial quagmire.


Thankfully, there are warning signs for those who choose to pay attention.


In "Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money with Your Honey," co-authors Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar offer five indicators that may signal you're dating a deadbeat. I've listed them here, along with a few additional ones of my own.


How many of these apply to your current sweetie?

  1. He or she always insists on picking up the check at a big dinner or throwing down a credit card without looking at the bill. This may be the sign of a big spender living beyond his or her means in an attempt to impress you.
  2. He lives in a large but sparsely furnished home. According to Thakor and Kedar, this can indicate your partner has, as they say in Texas, "a big hat, but no cattle."
  3. She avoids answering calls on her cellphone. This is a potential sign that your steady is avoiding bill collectors.
  4. He leases a car. Yeah, this seems like a bit of a stretch to me too. However, leasing is often a sign of living beyond one's means.
  5. She asks you to buy things for her or to co-sign loans. But, Len, she always promises to pay me back. OK. Let me know how that works out for you.
  6. He has a lot of bills marked "urgent" or "past due." This is another big financial red flag.
  7. She gets bills in somebody else's name. It could be an ex-sweetheart's bill, or indicate that your current lover couldn't get an account on her own. Then again, it could also mean that the postman simply delivered the bill to the wrong person -- so make sure you verify that address before you make any accusations.
  8. He admits that his credit cards are maxed out. This, too, is a great indicator of somebody having trouble living within his means.
  9. She has a payday loan company magnet on the refrigerator door. Ah, yes. "Joe's Payday Loans: When nobody else will loan you money. Not even your relatives." Don't laugh. Short of a loan shark, the payday loan company is typically the lender of last resort.
  10. He has a live-in maid named "Mom." Psst. Come closer. If you said "yes" to this one, and you happen to be in your lover's house right now, listen to me very carefully. Put down the mouse. Then calmly walk out the door and get away. As fast as you possibly can.

More from Len Penzo dot Com and MSN Money:

Feb 8, 2013 3:36PM
So, when a guy doesn't have job he's called a 'deadbeat', but when a woman doesn't have a job she's called a 'housewife'.

Seems fair....
Feb 8, 2013 3:43PM
11.  He or she has so much free time on their hands they sit at home all day and read horribly written articles on MSN which causes them to begin judging you based on a thoughtless "10 signs you're dating a deadbeat" article.

Feb 8, 2013 4:40PM
So now I need to buy a shi7 ton of furniture I don't need so people won't think I'm a deadbeat?  Sure I live alone, but I gotta have 3 beds, 7 dressers, a china hutch, 6 night stands, 4 end tables, 3 TVs, patio furniture, 4 sets of towels, a dozen lamps, kitchen table, dinning room table...   Makes sense.
Feb 8, 2013 11:56PM
I live with my mother because at this time in her life I am her caregiver and the only child that is still single and living at home. I am completing my education, listen quite regularly to the Dave Ramsey philosophy and have a savings account. etc. 
Feb 8, 2013 2:11PM

Number 11: If we get married I'll lose my welfare, food stamps and Section 8 housing. That of course assumes he's not also a deadbeat.

Feb 10, 2013 9:29AM
One more comment.  My friend's daughter married this big spender -- 3 dozen roses delivered every week, blah, blah....huge diamond engagement.ring...and it was all debt, nothing but debt, which the poor girl got on her bad credit and life when she married him.  Two kids later, she sits in her Mom's house with the kids, financially ruined, and no roses in sight.  Not her fault -- but her punishment.  Look for the guy or girl  who's a bit of a penny pincher and saves the first 10% in salary.   You'll never be sorry.
Feb 8, 2013 4:48PM
If you haven't identified that your fiance is dodging bill collectors by your wedding day, you're rushing things.
MSN's relationship and money news clips are amazingly funny and poorly written. It shows how vain this nation has become.
Feb 8, 2013 3:54PM

i read these just to see if i am a dead beat, or a cheater.

i usually fit the cheater criterium, although i am not.

kinda happy to see i am not a deadbeat (i hope my mom does my laundry today)

Feb 11, 2013 3:04AM
Calm down, people...picking any ONE of these and complaining, "I do that, and I'm not a deadbeat!" is like going on WebMD and thinking you're going to die because you have a cough. 
Feb 8, 2013 7:40PM
I've known a few.   Back in the 70s when I met my husband and we were teenagers, he told me he never had any money because his parents were separated and he was supporting his mother.  He even said that tho he was in high school, he still held a full-time job.  Obviously, I lived far from him so I couldn't check up on any of this.  I thought he was so admirable for being so good to his mother.  I remember specifically him telling me he just paid his mom's car insurance.  What I didn't know was she didn't drive!!!!  Well, I married this gem and he immediately quit his job.  Why work when your wife does?  It didn't take long to discover he was nothing but a lying sack of sh*t.  He finally cleaned up his act, but by then I lost my trust in him as well as my feelings.  I finally filed for divorce and you wouldn't believe the vindictive, nasty things he did to me at that time.  I was angry for a long time, but now I just feel sorry for him.  
Feb 8, 2013 5:29PM
#4 is a joke....leasing a car? really? they must have missed the part where you must be a 700 score or above to lease nowadays. a strong 700.
Feb 8, 2013 10:23PM

best advice for men: stay single.


if you don't your bride will spend you into the poorhouse ("oh honey, we have to get new furniture...cabinets...carpeting...a new car...)


who do yoiu think drives the american economy anyway? it's certainly not guys.

Feb 11, 2013 8:10AM
Ladies Beware!  Jeffrey Jury of Colorado Springs, CO / Fountain, CO = Dead Beat.  Forgery, Fraud, Identity Theft, Domestic Violence, $60,000.00+ in Credit Card Debt that he lies about, multiple cash advances from his pay checks, car repossessed, living off good ol' mom and dad's apron strings, addictions to drugs, alcohol, and porn as young as the students he teaches right up to porn as old as and looks like his mom. This entire article could have been written directly about him.  Currently listed as User Name "jeffreyfrog" at Christian  This man is NO CHRISTIAN, but is a pathological liar, and a user!  Ladies check out  You will find a lot of Dead Beats like Jeffrey Jury there.  Protect yourselves from financial ruin!
Feb 12, 2013 6:11PM
So supposing a guy is taking care of his mom who is experiencing the early stages of dementia, he moves her in with him, put some furniture in storage so she has more room to move around things (people with dementia have difficulty with their spatial reasoning), gets several hospital bills addressed to his mom, many are marked urgent or past due which he is paying off as best he can which maxed out his credit cards and lead him to take a payday loan. Yeah, this guy sounds like a real nightmare, woe be to she who falls for him. Stupid article.
Feb 12, 2013 7:33PM
Don't marry anyone who has excuses for everything.  You have to meet their family, their friends, see their home, and feel comfortable with their values, spending habits, and lifestyle.  If they are secretive, beware.  There's always a reason for it, and you're not going to like the reason.    There may be a wife, an ugly past, or they may just be a con artist. 
Feb 8, 2013 9:29PM
I guess we can't judge a book by it's cover however my mother's favorite expression when it came to people was "changing their habits is like changing the spots on a leopard".
Feb 8, 2013 6:48PM
These are good signs, but only a sign.  Like diagnosing a car or medical problem , the signs may not add up to anything at all...grain of salt, I'd say.
Feb 12, 2013 7:02PM
If she can support her own azz after she finds out you are supporting yours then you'll be fine.....just don't get married....
Feb 8, 2013 3:43PM
This discussion is going to change everything!  Be what the heck you want to be.  It's only survival.
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