What does financial responsibility mean to you? Many people mistake it for the ability to spend frugally, which isn’t entirely wrong. However, a better definition would be that your relationship with money isn’t a parasitic one – you know the kind where you take and take until the source eventually depletes to nothing.
Even at that, being responsible financially goes beyond barely replenishing your piggy bank when you take money out of it. It’s being disciplined enough to know to put a little something aside for the unexpected as well. Not all rainy days are begotten by clouds, after all.
It’s easy to miss the tells of financial irresponsibility or intentionally overlook them because many are pretty common. Unfortunately, leaving it unwatched can make life come at you so hard it feels like it’s all coming out of nowhere.
From racking up personal debts to losing an entire business and relationships going under, lack of money management skills can have real negative consequences.
Now, what are these clues I speak of, you ask? They are everything that points to the fact that one isn’t living within their means. That is, one or more of the following:
- 1 25 Signs Of Financial Irresponsibility
- 1.1 1. You live off of family and friends
- 1.2 2. You go from debt to debt
- 1.3 3. You do not budget
- 1.4 4. You have trouble staying on budget
- 1.5 5. You have no emergency savings
- 1.6 6. You dip recklessly into your emergency funds
- 1.7 7. You can't afford your lifestyle
- 1.8 8. You have to have every “in” thing
- 1.9 9. You have a gambling problem
- 1.10 10. You are always in a bind
- 1.11 11. You fantasize about making more money without working towards it
- 1.12 12. You are always behind on bill payments
- 1.13 13. Big spender, splurges often
- 1.14 14. You are neck-deep in credit card debt
- 1.15 15. Your credit scores are on the decline
- 1.16 16. You spend before you save
- 1.17 17. You are not covered by any type of insurance
- 1.18 18. You act coy when someone tries to hold you accountable
- 1.19 19. You have no real financial goals
- 1.20 20. You disregard your financial statements
- 1.21 21. You live in the moment financially
- 1.22 22. You ignore pointers of looming financial trouble
- 1.23 23. Family and friends have begun to turn down your request for a handout
- 1.24 24. You are not investing even though you make enough to
- 1.25 25. You have no retirement plan
- 2 FAQs
- 3 To Sum Up
25 Signs Of Financial Irresponsibility
1. You live off of family and friends
It’s one thing if you are going through a rough patch as an adult and have to turn to family and friends for support till you get back on your feet. And another if it becomes a thing despite having a source of income of your own.
Actually, this can be both a sign of irresponsibility and a consequence of financial negligence if you make it a habit. The cause may not have been expected, but if you get comfortable relying on handouts to make ends meet instead of working towards ensuring such doesn’t happen again, it shows you don’t care enough.
2. You go from debt to debt
Another financial red flag that is indicative of not being on top of your money management game is debt problems. While it is possible for things not to go as planned, maybe a derailed business deal, having too much debt can mean you have been irresponsible at some point.
You may regularly find yourself dipping into your savings or even borrowing money to make bill payments. Or taking loans from creditors to offset credit card debt and other outstanding ones.
3. You do not budget
The whole concept of financial responsibility is taking on the duty of being accountable for your spending, that you can keep track of what you earn versus what you spend. And also making sure that the latter doesn’t exceed the former.
It is more challenging to do this without a budget, and if you are prone to overspending, this can mean you are well on your way towards financial instability.
4. You have trouble staying on budget
Then again, being financially responsible doesn’t begin and end at setting the budget alone. You still have to make sure what you’ve planned matches your expenses (or vice versa) for that week/month/year, that is, stick with the budget for the effort to count.
For that, you need the self-discipline to be able to say no to things that may tempt you to go over, something a frivolously spendy person may be unable to relate to.
5. You have no emergency savings
Experts recommend paying yourself first before diving into sharing the rest of your income to the appropriate quarters. This savings strategy is to help you prepare for unforeseen financial disasters, something to fall back on temporarily in case of any emergency or a job loss.
Ideally, they recommend putting enough away to cover your living expenses and other needs without earning anything for about three to six months. But if you’ve been working a while and missing even one paycheck would mean financial woes, that’s a sign you need to do better.
6. You dip recklessly into your emergency funds
It’s called emergency funds for a reason, you know? Even if you decide not to call it that, let’s say it’s a regular savings account, delving into it indiscriminately can beget financial trouble.
You may have a good enough excuse to do it once or twice. I mean it makes more sense to borrow from yourself than to take a loan, for instance, incurring higher debt with interest. But financial responsibility will have you restless until you put that money back and you’d know that just because it’s there doesn’t mean you should get used to it.
7. You can't afford your lifestyle
Financially responsible adults know better than to try to keep up with a lifestyle their pockets cannot cover. Most people who work hard for their money have no plans of doing it forever. They might even try to cut back on their spending, so they are able to meet their savings goals sooner and get to retire early.
8. You have to have every “in” thing
There are people who can conveniently lead a lavish lifestyle, get the latest toys, and jump on every cool trend without their finances taking a hit. Financial responsibility is understanding that you should probably tread with caution if you are not one of those people.
Unfortunately, once you commit yourself to a life of keeping up appearances, it isn’t easy to stop. So, if you find yourself incurring debt just to buy something you don’t need to keep up with a lie, there’s your sign.
9. You have a gambling problem
Technically, the reason gambling is so lucrative is that all it takes to lift you from nothing to wealth is a stroke of luck. Unfortunately, that stroke is like a coin, and more often than not, it lands on the other side.
Going down that road is a slippery slope on which even the most disciplined person can lose themselves. That’s why someone who has a healthy relationship with money would resist such temptations by limiting their exposure to it. But then, if gambling is your drug of choice, it’s a clear indicator of where you stand on the financial responsibility scale.
10. You are always in a bind
Someone who mismanages their personal finance would also have a story to tell if asked what happened. A bad stroke of luck today, too many debt payments to make tomorrow. There’s always an emergency to sort, always reaching out to someone to help them get out the last help another person offered.
Their excuses are often typically vague, too, because what keeps them running out of and needing more money is usually not an acceptable reason to other people. Probably something like the above, or some other addictive spending problems like compulsive shopping trips.
11. You fantasize about making more money without working towards it
We all sometimes daydream about what our lives would be like with a little more financial wiggle room than we currently have. How sweet it would be to cut out debts (student loans, credit cards, etc.), be able to make payments on time, and not have to worry about building credit scores and whatnot.
The difference, however, is that where most people can dream about hitting the jackpot while still making something happen on the side, you may proceed as if willing it to happen is all the work you need.
12. You are always behind on bill payments
If you never pay your bills on time, you may not think much of it, but it’s a red flag worth looking into. From credit card bills to taxes to rent and other utilities, being nonchalant about payments due is not a good thing by any measure.
If the issue is that you never have enough to pay them when due, my first charge at taking back responsibility would be to cut back on my living expenses. Missing these payments repeatedly can result in accumulated credit card debt, which can, in turn, cause your credit score to drop or whatever the equivalent of losing your credibility is in your case.
13. Big spender, splurges often
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a generous spender as long as the money is yours to spend, and it’s well within your budget. To rephrase, as long as no other part of your personal finance (mortgage, retirement planning, tax and credit card bills, debt payment, etc.) suffers for it, it’s your cash to spend.
However, it begins tending towards irresponsibility when you neglect your financial wellbeing by consciously deciding to splurge when you know you can’t afford to.
14. You are neck-deep in credit card debt
Credit cards are supposed to be an alternative to cash because they are handy and convenient to carry around. However, most of them also have interest rates so high that it just seems like a better idea to keep them minimal and their usage needs-only.
However, since a person who is not so responsible with their finances is always in one bind or the other, they may be seduced by the allure of easy money. So, when all else fails (or even before), they push their credit limit and pile up their credit balances till it gets so high it becomes another significant debt to service.
15. Your credit scores are on the decline
A person’s credit situation (bill payment, credit score, debts, etc.) is the fastest way to gauge their financial habits. When you see someone making big payments like bills with credit and not just as a short-term solution that one time, you know debt doesn’t really scare them.
In addition, they tend to pay late, and they usually don’t stop once the one credit limit is reached. Before you know it, you are maxed out on multiple credit cards, with no assurance of when you can clear it all. The system obviously doesn’t look kindly on defaulters, so eventually, their credit score takes a hit.
16. You spend before you save
Money is never enough, at least not for the majority of the population. There will always be something you want to do outside your budget, and if one isn’t careful, it can eat into what you’ve saved. I’m sure it’s happened to the best of us before.
That’s why the aforementioned system of paying yourself first while expenses come after is a more effective way to keep your finances secure. Therefore, adopting the saving after spending method is as much a warning sign of irresponsibility as having no savings at all.
17. You are not covered by any type of insurance
A financially irresponsible person is always one setback away from major money problems. Actions like choosing not to save, invest, or manage their credit score properly often have consequences like debt or even worse financial crises.
Unfortunately, it gets worse. Between moving from debt to debt, to their typical nonchalant attitude towards what’s not yet in front of them, insurance coverage may also not be their priority.
Knowing the kind of world we live in, one can go from being comfortable to drowning in debt with one wrong turn with such habits – risk adults who love having and keeping their money wouldn’t take.
18. You act coy when someone tries to hold you accountable
If you find yourself hiding your spending, picking a fight, or acting defensive when asked about your money situation, you may need to check yourself. What goes on with your finances is ultimately your business, but it’s bad if even those closest to you, like your spouse, can’t bring up money without it causing tension.
I understand that not everyone feels comfortable divulging secrets about their finances to everyone they fall in love with. But if you’re in a long-term/serious relationship with someone, and you still get agitated when money comes up, it’s a clear sign you’re hiding something. Money problems, perhaps?
19. You have no real financial goals
If you have no active financial goal in sight, you have either arrived or still have a long way to go. It doesn’t have to be something gigantic like buying a house or starting a million-dollar company.
Sometimes it’s setting out to have fewer money issues in the future. For some, it’s paying a percentage of their credit card debt, or to be free of debt altogether. But if none of these appeal to you, or you intentionally set goals that are below your level, it’s a possible sign you can do better.
20. You disregard your financial statements
We are all humans. If you keep seeing something that brings you down, chances are you won’t naturally gravitate towards it. With finances, the way you lay your bed is how you eventually lie on it, so if you haven’t been on top of your money management game, it’ll always reflect in your statements.
Interestingly, these statements don’t even have to indicate trouble before an irresponsible person ignores them.
21. You live in the moment financially
In an ideal world, we would live the dream in the present, and the future would take care of itself. However, in this one we know and love, if you don’t set something apart for yourself, you are likely to become a liability to those who love you in the future.
Show me someone who never goes through their financial statements until it’s time to ask the bank for more credit or take on more debt and I’ll show you a giant red flag.
22. You ignore pointers of looming financial trouble
There are levels to this irresponsibility with finances. Where some people’s money management issues are still on the mild side, some people take it to a whole new level by ignoring impending doom.
It’s one thing not to know that your credit score/credibility is on the decline; it’s another to willingly enter even more debt despite that knowledge. In fact, waiting till your financial situation gets so bad that it forces your hand to take drastic self-sabotaging steps is irresponsibility in itself.
23. Family and friends have begun to turn down your request for a handout
Another clear sign that someone is probably not the best with finances is when even their loved ones get tired. Creditors and banks may close their doors on you when your credit score hits the mud, but you know it’s bad when you can’t even count on the support of family.
Unless there’s another story there, one usually doesn’t get to that stage without having overplayed their hand one too many times. Probably tons of unpaid debt there too.
24. You are not investing even though you make enough to
Perhaps you are none of the things described in the other points. You pay your bills when due, you don’t have excessive debt, you use multiple credit cards but not so recklessly that your credit score takes a hit, you save, etc.
But then it isn’t until you indiscriminately take money out of your emergency fund or go on compulsive shopping sprees. Sometimes, not being responsible enough with your money looks like seeing a chance to improve your financial standing – like investments, and not taking it even though you can afford to.
25. You have no retirement plan
Even if one somehow manages to make it through life without rainy days, they still have to stop working at some point. This is the time when you are either tired of doing what you do, or age has taken its toll, and you are no longer as physically fit to work.
The time where you are supposed to sit back and enjoy the fruit of your labor when your financial discipline throughout your career is supposed to pay off.
The preparation starts now, of course. And since an irresponsible person is likely to view retirement plans as a distant thing, they may never get around to setting one up until it’s too late.
You may have a financial problem on your hand if you owe too much debt, can’t access your money, or have multiple credit cards over limit/low credit score. In a relationship, one partner limiting the other’s access to their joint account and spending out of savings/emergency funds can also point to trouble.
Someone who is irresponsible financially lives above their means in the present and has little to no interest in putting something aside for the future. They have a weak savings/investments culture, spend recklessly, and may have more debt to their name than assets.
Financial irresponsibility can result in mental, emotional, and physical stress. It can bring about substantial debt or even bankruptcy. It can also cause people to lose respect for you and break apart a relationship, family, friendship, or business.
Your debt has become a problem if: 1) You can no longer keep track of how much you owe, 2) You are getting into new high-interest debt to clear existing ones, and 3) creditors or debt collectors are actively after you. In addition to these warning signs, you should also consider it a red flag if you rely on your credit card to survive.
Romantic relationships should be based on love, and with that comes understanding. Partners should be equitable in splitting their finances because all fingers are not equal So while 50 50 might be the right formula for some couples, that may not be the case for others.
To Sum Up
The good news is that financial responsibility can be learned; no one is born with the know-how. So, it’s not the end of the world if one or more of these points describe your situation, you can always make it a goal to turn a new leaf. All it takes to start is that first step. As always, kindly let me know your thoughts on this in the comments and share the article if it helped.
As hopeless romantic I struggled tremendously in my love life. After many years of searching, trial & error, and countless failed relationships, I finally found my Mr. Right. It wasn't an easy road, but one that has taught me an incredible amount about the workings of relationships between men and women, and this is what I hope to share through my writing on this blog.