How to Avoid Financial Abuse – I thought I would start the new year off with an excerpt from my upcoming book. And since it is the beginning of a new year, I thought I would start at the beginning. Here is some of what I’ve shared in the book about avoiding financial abuse by learning to spot the warning signs before you commit to a relationship. Enjoy! Stay tuned for more information on the publication as the year goes on.
CHAPTER 3 – SYMPTOMS SOMETHING’S WRONG: Before you Commit
Obviously, if you can spot the likelihood of trouble happening before you get involved with someone, the easier it will be to avoid getting into a destructive relationship.
One of the most critical steps to avoiding financial abuse (or abuse of any kind) is selecting a quality partner. Know when to move on from someone who is not treating you right. Remember, statistically, if you are subjected to physical, emotional, sexual, or verbal abuse, you are also highly likely to be financially abused. Figure out ahead of time whether the person you’re interested in might mistreat you. It’s the best way to avoid the whole bloody mess.
First, if you’ve lived through it before, you are probably going to be less susceptible to falling into the same pattern. Especially if you have done your work and healed the wounds that keep you drawn to unhealthy situations. If you can “recover,” then you are less likely to keep returning to the same pattern. That is the goal. Moving on and finding a new healthier pattern is why this book exists. You cannot successfully attract a new relationship pattern if you have not overcome your demons and broken free of your historical programming. As my high school history teacher was fond of quoting:
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
This quote is credited to writer and philosopher George Santayana. In its original form it read, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
If you are out in the dating world then you are starting from zero. You are at the perfect place to prevent yourself from ending up in another destructive situation. Dating gives you the opportunity to test your new radar and see how it’s working. If you’re on a date and he is not willing to pick up the tab, that’s a yellow warning flag. It might not mean anything, but it’s something keep in the back of your mind. Going “Dutch treat,” meaning you each pay your own tab, is considered normal in today’s dating scene. However, I appreciate a man who is willing to pick up the tab at least the first time or two. Depending on the man, this may be where his generosity stops. Keep an eye on his whole money demeanor. If he seems stingy, expects you to pay, asks you to go to discount places or use coupons, then there may be more going on.
Truthfully, it’s not fair to lump all guys into one category as there are also different money styles. Some people are naturally more frugal than others. And some are overspenders who like everyone to think they have endless resources. It’s not fair to assume too much right up front. I’m suggesting that you look for warning signs. File that information in your memory and then continue the relationship if it seems to be going well overall. Keep your eyes open. His flashy car and shiny shoes could be a front that isn’t supported behind the scenes.
Overspending can be indicative of a pattern of living large.
If you’re sure he has the wonderful job he claims to have, then great. Maybe he can afford those expensive toys. But if the job sounds sketchy or too good to be real, it may not even exist.
Other signs that are worth keeping an eye for are that he seems to have a spotty job history or is vague about what he does for a living. If he’s evasive about important areas of his life, pay attention. There may be more to the story than he’s letting on. There are lots of warnings in this area that may mean trouble but may not indicate financial instability; watch and listen carefully and ask lots of questions.
I’ve also dated men that are perpetual students, a sign that they are not living as financially responsible adults. Living with a parent might indicate they are not economically successful enough to afford their own place. Many of us have aging parents. Some of them want to stay living in their own homes, so it could also mean he is a committed, loving son.
Look for potential issues, then explore them further.
Men who are looking for a meal ticket often use online dating sites to fish for their next victim. If you have abundant financial resources, be wary of who you share that information with. It may seem normal to talk about it with your friends, but keep your cards close to your vest if you are meeting strangers for dates. There is no reason for you to tell them all about Grandma’s china over your first cup of coffee. Stranger danger has never been a more real thing than in this age of online dating. There are as many men out there looking for a sugar mama as there are women looking for sugar daddies.
Never be afraid to run a background check on a man before you hop into bed with him. As they say, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. So if this is where you met him, then the saying applies to everything he says as well. Check out his social media to see if what he says to you lines up with what he shows himself doing and who he’s with according to his online profile. If he doesn’t have any social media accounts, this may be a red flag. It may not be, it’s just not everyone’s cup of tea. But try to find what you can even if it’s to confirm that the business he claims to work for is legit.
I am not trying to dish on every innocent man out there trying to meet lovely ladies online. I’m just saying it sets you up as an easy target for those less than savory characters who find this method ripe with abundant low hanging fruit.
Don’t be the low hanging fruit.
Good boundaries, careful scrutiny, stringent vetting, and listening to your intuition are all important whenever you’re dating. But, if you’ve been the victim of any kind of abuse in the past, you should take extra precautions. You are more vulnerable to repeating your patterns and falling in with another bad apple if you’re not uber careful.
Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (https://strongwomenthriving.com/), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join our FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/womensurivingfinancialabuse