I make a living helping people figure out their finances. I eat, breathe, sleep money. So when it comes to bringing personal finance up in normal conversation, I’m totally cool with talking about things like how I spent too much money at REI this weekend and felt totally guilty about it or how the hell to roll over a 401k from your last job.
This is what I do. And I love it.
But when it comes to dating, the lines between a socially acceptable conversation about money and bringing up taboo financial topics begin to blur…
The question of “so what do you do?” eventually turns into a discussion about my job, which snowballs into a conversation about debt or bad financial habits – something you might not talk about on a first date if the girl in front of you didn’t draw cartoons about money.
While I love a good, honest conversation about finances, I feel like I’m in an interesting spot of getting to know someone’s money habits sooner rather than later. And that poses an interesting question: does money matter when dating, especially early on? Or is it something to talk about later when things start to get serious?
Maybe it’s because I talk about money all day, but I haven’t really found the sweet spot for when it’s okay to start talking about money or when it’s appropriate to throw money management into the equation of “desirable dating qualities.”
Does Money Matter When Dating? Here’s what you had to say:
So naturally whenever I don’t know the answer to something, I ask Facebook
Here’s what folks online had to say:
- Todd from Financial Mentor: “As anyone who is married will tell you, money is an important issue in every relationship. Therefore it is not a question of appropriateness, but rather appropriate timing. It isn’t an appropriate discussion for the early stages as you get to know each other, but when you are moving beyond merely dating then it is completely appropriate.”
- Eric from Narrow Bridge Finances: “It’s important to have a money talk early on to see how you both stand on paying for dates and activities together. Bad money communication could lead to a quick breakup and end a relationship that had great potential.”
- Doug from The Military Guide: “If income or debt mattered during dating then my spouse would have dropped me like a hot rock. Luckily by the time those subjects came up, she knew me well enough to see my potential. If you see cheapness skills, are they impressive or just… cheap? Will they still be as impressive five or 10 or 20 years from now? Because I doubt that marriage changes our habits very much. Especially guy habits.”
- Tracie from Penny Pinchin’ Mom: “I think there is a point when you have to discuss it. Not on the first few dates, but as you get to know one another and it develops. I think your past history isn’t always indicative of how you are now (I declared bankruptcy just as I started dating my husband). We had a lot of discussions about it and he knew how I felt about money and finances – which put us both on the same page. For us, money ranked up there with religion and other issues. It is extremely important. (It is a huge cause of divorce, so you must know this about one another before you can really become too serious).”
- Bob on The Empowered Dollar fan page: “Dating someone who is bad with money is fine and all. But don’t marry someone until you’ve balanced a checkbook with them a few times. (And, if the balancing doesn’t go well, remember that money management is a learned skill…)”
- Christopher on The Empowered Dollar fan page: “Money definitely matters. Not so much on how much you have, but on how you handle it.”
- Kylie Ofiu: “Because everyone knows what I do, finances are discussed straight away (they bring it up). My partner and I actually laid everything out on the first date due to extenuating circumstances – kids, religion, relationship potential, finances, views on roles in relationships etc. This time when I met my partner we were kind of forced into a position where we either revealed all and jump in or walk away. We chose to jump in, best decision ever.”
- Shannyn from Frugal Beautiful: “I always talked about money and I think a few guys thought I was a gold digger – though, I think gold diggers talk more about fancy purses and clothes than 401ks and saving part of your paycheck, or how I would ask about views on debt.”
- Martin Dasko from Studenomics: “Doesn’t matter what anyone says, it’s all about chemistry and getting laid! When it’s time to get serious, then everything changes because money determines everything. For the first few dates, why even bother talking about money? Have fun and go with the flow.”
Seems like everyone agrees that it’s not cool to talk debt and taxes on date number one. Still, the responses range from “it doesn’t matter at all on the first date” to “lay your cards out on the table right away.”
In the meantime, I’ll just show my cartoons whenever money comes up on a date – so hopefully I’ll at least get at a little chuckle before we dive into the heavy financial talks
What do you think? Does money matter when you’re dating, or should you not sweat it until things get serious?