In the beginning stages of dating, the financial history of the other is ultimately none of your business. However, when you begin to progress past a few dates, and it’s clear you may be beginning a relationship, the subject of how one handles their finances is a necessary topic to cover.
According to a Love & Money study by TD Bank, where 1,339 persons who are married, engaged and in a relationship were surveyed, most respondents reported arguing about money. Thirty-six percent of millennials reported fighting about their finances at least once a week, compared with 15 percent of Gen Xers (ages 35 to 54) and 7 percent of baby boomers (ages 55 and up). If so many married couples are having financial issues, it’s pretty clear that dating people are not having the hard conversations before they walk down the aisle. It’s also clear that most money arguments couples have occur because there are secrets that people keep hidden regarding credit debt, low credit scores, student loans, or tax issues. So, how do you start the conversation of finances while dating?
The question isn’t IF, you should ask, but WHEN you should ask these questions. If you’re someone who is financially savvy, you should probably be asking pointed questions early on. This doesn’t mean you go into the first date asking for their credit report, but you should be asking about their financial goals (Are they saving for house? What are their retirement goals?) right along with asking about their five- and ten-year goals. The dating stage is where you should be uncovering financial dishonesty so patterns can be detected and assessed. The subject of sex, family issues, careers, and lifestyle are all approachable subjects when dating, but we tend to skate right over the topic finances. Truth is, you have no way of knowing if your potential mate is thousands of dollars in debt unless you ask.
The only way to deal with this tough subject head on is to be honest about your current situation. As with any area in dating, honesty establishes trust and it opens the door to encourage healthy financial habits as a couple. Not everyone has access to the same financial information as they are growing up, and therefore may not have learned how to budget, save and spend wisely. One of the last things you want to do is marry someone without any information about their finances, because once you are married, you’ve now inherited their burdens. The money they owe becomes your burden as well and may prevent you from purchasing a house, establishing credit, or saving for big ticket items. Also, if you’ve been working hard throughout the years to maintain credit worthiness, you do not want a potential partner harming that reputation. No matter how in love you may be, it’s worth it to have a tough conversation early on to uncover any untruths and downfalls.
Has your relationship been derailed as a result of bad money habits? If you found out the person you are dating is currently $70,000 in debt, how would that change the course of your courtship? What if you discovered the debt was for student loans? Or maybe, credit card debt. Would that change your opinion? We would love to hear your feedback. We are also available for credit counseling, credit repair, tax services, and retirement planning. Let us know what you need, and we will be of service.