The ick is that dreaded feeling that can make or break a relationship. Sometimes it’s frivolous: they’re not fans of Taylor Swift. (Gasps.) But sometimes, the ick is quite rational. Case in point: money talk or behavior that just rubs you the wrong way. Here, Credit Karma’s consumer financial advocate, Courtney Alev, breaks down five financial icks, plus how to address them—or when to run for the door.
Tipping Poorly, Venmo Nickel and Diming and 3 More Financial Icks to Watch Out for in Your Relationship
Meet the Expert
Courtney Alev is a consumer financial advocate and associate director of product management at Credit Karma. Prior, she was a group product manager at Intuit-owned Mint where she built new experiences to help Mint customers gain a deeper understanding of their financial situation by helping them more easily visualize their personal finance data. Before joining the workforce, Alev volunteered in the Peace Corps, working to increase the economic resilience of residents, especially women, in remote communities in Mozambique.
1. Tipping Poorly—or Not at All
How a person tips can cue you into a few characteristics, like empathy and generosity. And while there’s nothing wrong with the standard 20 percent, going above and beyond or totally lowballing it can say a lot. The latter? Definitely an ick, especially if the service was great. “Tips are often a major part of service workers’ wages, so if you can’t afford to tip where it’s appropriate, you may need to cut down on certain expenses like dining out,” Alev says. Not sure how much to tip? Many restaurants provide calculations at 15, 18, 20 and 25 percent at the bottom of the receipt. But if in doubt, know that 15 to 20 percent is the norm.
2. Nickel and Diming on Venmo
“If you spend a good amount of time with someone, such as a romantic partner or a close friend, most minor expenses you’ve covered should even out over time,” Alev notes. And honestly, it’s tedious to punt the coffee money back and forth, and can feel icky if you notice your partner invoicing you for every damn bagel purchase. However, it is wise to have boundaries if you’re not keeping track, says Alev, who suggests having a dollar limit you’re comfortable with covering and then letting your partner know. “If they don’t agree, or you find yourself feeling resentment over perceived unfairness, everyone should handle their own purchases.”
3. Judging Your Purchases
Maybe you’ve been eyeing Princess Catherine's favorite Polène bag or just had to splurge on the Dyson Airwrap. Your partner shouldn’t be giving you the side eye. Granted, managing shared finances takes teamwork, especially in a marriage. So, having opinions on their purchases isn’t necessarily an ick. It does become sticky, though, when your partner starts judging you for purchases that you’ve budgeted for—no matter how frivolous they seem. “The decisions behind our purchases can be personal, and what qualifies a purchase as ‘necessary’ is subjective.”
4. Flaunting Their Wealth
No one likes an obnoxious flex. (At least, the PureWow editors don’t.) And, Alev notes, those flashy things often don’t tell the whole story of someone’s financial situation. So. though the pressure can be real (no thanks to social media), flaunting wealth—whether via a TikTok haul or “casually” dropping the price of your latest wardrobe splurge—is a tacky move, maintains Alev. Maybe try quiet luxury instead.
5. Not Respecting Your Financial Situation
“If a date is significantly better off than you, and consistently disregards your preferences in favor of expensive activities you can’t—or don’t want to—afford, it can lead to hard feelings and poor financial decisions,” Alev explains. And honestly, it’s just…icky. “Don’t let yourself cave to FOMO or peer pressure that leads to spending more than you want—plenty of fun activities are free!”