Ahhh, it’s February – the month of romance.  While thoughts of love are in the air, down here on the ground the financially savvy person might want to give some solid thought to whether their sweetie is in the red or in the black when it comes to their personal finances. While this may not sound romantic, it’s very practical. Money is routinely cited as one of the top causes of fights in marriage and one of the top causes of divorce. So here are five questions to find out if your honey has trouble with money.

1. Does your sweetie always insist on picking up the check at a big dinner and/or throw down his or her credit card without even looking at the bill?

While this could be a sign of innate generosity – it could also be a red flag for someone who is trying to show off and is doing so by living beyond their means thanks to the “friendly” help of credit cards. My experience has been that financially fit individuals – no matter how much or how little money they have – take the time to review bills before paying for them. A cavalier attitude towards that dinner bill may be an indication of a cavalier attitude towards money in general.

2. Does your sweetie have a large but sparsely furnished apartment / home?

While it’s possible that your sweetie is just waiting for his or her “personal design sensibility” to present itself… more likely than not it’s a red financial flag that you’ve got a case of what’s called down in Texas “Big Hat, No Cattle.” A phrase made popular in the wonderful book THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR, it highlights a sad but true phenomenon. In today’s credit driven society, the guy with the big house or flashy car OR the gal with the four-digit handbag and the three-digit stilettos may well be presenting an exterior image that bears no resemblance to their true economic reality.

3. Does your sweetie avoid answering calls on his or her phone?

It’s possible it’s just mom checking in to see how the day is going… but then again, it’s also possible that it’s bill collectors calling to find out when your sweetie is going to make good on that car payment, mortgage, credit card or other outstanding debts.

4. Does your sweetie lease his or her car?

Think about it, what’s the sales pitch for leasing – it’s “hey you can get more car for less money than if you buy outright!” As one of my all time favorite financial gurus, Dave Ramsey says, it should be called “fleecing” not leasing.  In financial matters, when it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

5. Does your sweetie ask you to co-sign or buy things in your name, and promising to pay you back?

Barring a life or death emergency, why would a financially responsible person ever ask their significant other to do this? This may be the clearest sign of all that something smells fishy… and it’s not the dinner you had last night!

Are there any other red flags that you would add to this list?