When you begin dating someone, ultimately their financial status is really none of your business. Nor is theirs yours. After a few dates, and a glimpse of one another’s lifestyle, you are likely to get an idea of what kind of financial person they are. Do they spend too much? Are they cheap, never ordering appetizers at dinner? Do they seem to be showy and impressed by money? Truth be told however, you have no idea what sort of money monsters are lurking in their metaphorical closet. No matter how much you love someone the fact that they owe $150,000 in student loans and credit card debt, can deaden the initial feelings of attraction, especially if you are thinking matrimony.
The question really is not should you discuss finances while dating, but WHEN should you discuss finances while dating? If you are financially savvy, and hold a lot of stake in saving money and planning a future, then you should probably start talking about your money plans early on. You also shouldn’t be afraid to let someone that you are dating know how you prioritize money (or not) and how you generally feel about money in general. Remember, dating is about finding a match for you, someone that is compatible to you. Considering more than half of all marriages end in divorce and many divorce over money – making sure your financial goals are inline isn’t such a bad idea.
This of course, doesn’t mean that on the first date you should request a copy of your partner’s bank account and run a credit check. But as soon as you start feeling like the relationship is getting pretty serious, and that the person you are dating could be a potential life mate, the conversation of finances and money should be initiated. And from that point on, it should be a continuous part of the couple’s dialogue.
Its amazing that for many people, talking about sex, family life and other intimate details is easier (and occurs more quickly) than the ‘dreaded’ money talk. Especially since money is a huge part of life as you know it. The reason is simple. Every person comes to a relationship with what could be considered money baggage. The money baggage could be in the form of a prior bankruptcy, or could be more about the ingrained social viewpoints of how one feels about money. If you grew up wealthy and are used to having nice things and feel that savings and financial wealth are extremely important in the terms of your life success, partnering with someone who doesn’t feel the same could be a struggle. (But not impossible endeavor) Alternatively, if your partner holds money to a high regard and you don’t think it is one of the most important things in life – the relationship could be threatened.
The best way to talk about the subject is through real life experiences together. For instance, if the two of you are planning a vacation together than obviously the issue of money will come up. You will get an idea how well your money ideals work together by paying attention to how each of you plans and spend during the vacation. Or, if the two of you are thinking about going in together to buy a big-ticket item, then the money conversation should come up. If one partner wants to put the whole thing on credit at a high interest rate and you would rather pay cash – then it can be obvious that you are in two different places when it comes to money.
Additionally, no person in a relationship should be afraid to admit that they cannot afford something. Eventually, going out together and spending money on events, dinners, and dates can be expensive. And eventually, the money it takes to keep a relationship going can become too much of a burden. If you can’t afford to go out every night for dinner, speak up and say so. This will help your partner understand your financial situation, and show that you are responsible when it comes to finances. If they ditch you because of it, or seem unimpressed, then they probably weren’t a great choice in a life partner anyways.
According to financial experts, the last thing you want to do is marry someone not knowing a thing about his or her financial past. Once you are married, their credit affects yours. The money that they owe to credit cards, student loans or on car loans becomes your burden as well. Today, with so many people getting married later in life, after they have established assets of their own – it only makes sense to talk about and separate the finances before marriage. Even go so far as to speak to an attorney and see what options are available so that both of you can preserve your credit worthiness and financial independence. No matter how in love you are at this very moment, you HAVE to think about the future, which include quite a few maybes and ‘what if’s.’
The most important thing to remember about the money talk is to be honest. Don’t assume that because you feel one way and your partner feels another that YOU are right and they are wrong. Also, try not to be quick to judge. Each of us comes from a different background and the money trials and tribulations that come with it are not always easily understood. And of course, try to gauge how well the two of you can come to agreements and compromise when it comes to your financial status. For many people who do not know how to handle money, dating or marrying someone with a stellar financial past and knowledge can be just what the accountant ordered. People can change their money habits, and the two of you can make things work regardless of the problems that exist if both of you are honest from the get go.