Dating + Money = Awkward

April 15, 2011 · 35 comments

Yesterday’s post confirmed my hunch that most people find fiscal responsibility and attractiveness at least somewhat related. Most of us would date a med student with $40,000 student loan bills before we’d date Trendy McTrenderson who had a $20,000 credit card bill. Not too surprising.

But then I got to thinking, if we agree relational chemistry is at least partially dependent on financial stability, at what point do we discuss said stability?

Should we cut to the chase and get a financial snapshot of our potential mate on the first date? How about the third date? Or is that conversation not needed until you fall in love?

Girl Ninja and I were slow movers in every aspect of our relationship. It took me six months of intense pursuit before I could force convince her to date me. I didn’t kiss her until our third month of dating. It took 1.5 years for her to tell me she loved me (when I had told her the same thing at seven months). And we didn’t…well…you know… until we got hitched last August, after dating for four years.

Our finances were no different. We kept things pretty quiet for most of our relationship. In fact, it wasn’t until I proposed (after 3.5 years) that I finally gave her full disclosure of my financial situation. I just didn’t think she needed to know how much debt (or savings) I had until it was time to plan the rest of our lives together.

Perhaps I’ve answered my own question. Maybe finances need not be discussed until you plan on combining finances? After all, why does it matter how much debt (or savings) your significant other has if you aren’t necessarily sure their finances are even going to impact you.

For Girl Ninja and I, we didn’t have our first real money talk until we were ready to tie the knot. When did you have yours? At what point do finances become a necessary topic in the dating scene?

{ 35 comments }

1 Marilyn

You were slow movers eh? :) Hubby and I had our first money talk the day after we got engaged. I knew he really loved me because we estimated how much debt I would be in after school (Don’t worry I will be making good money). It’s a lot. And he was just like, ok. I just need to know, and that was it. Then he was happy to marry me. Whew!

2 Where's the beef

My wife and I were the opposite, so we had purchsed a home together at 1.5 years into our 4 years of dating, and then marriage. (I know, I know) We were both well aware of each other’s situation, but fortunately we’re on the same page. She is actually more of a saver than me, and doesn’t get caught up on toys like Harleys and sweet Chrome Yellow 1976 VW buses, like I do. Anyways, she had more saved up than I did. I had to hold back my smile when I found out, just made her even more sexy!

3 Finding My Way

Ninja, my boyfriend and I have done things slightly different. We sort of had to since the money situation was present in the relationship early on so we started dealing with things early on. I moved into his family home after a 1.5 years of dating. it was 5 minutes from where I was working, and commuting to school for courses was going to be difficult. His family has been bad with money for a while, so the first thing that happened was I was on the receiving end of creditor phone calls for everyone but me.

So we started that money conversation early. I’ve been totally honest with him about my finances, and he is getting more forthcoming with his as we’ve progressed. When me were looking at places of our own, it was an exercise in money versus the Jones’ (his brother and friends). He learned very quickly that appearances are deceiving, in that his brother, who had bought a house with his fiancee, couldn’t actually afford it with how he spent his money. I sat him down with paper and pen and walked him through a budgeting exercise to show him that we couldn’t afford the place he wanted with the debts we had and the incomes we had. He didn’t want to get a second job, so we looked for places that fit into our budget, not the ones that looked great and cost two arms and a leg each.

Personally those exercises have saved many a fight, allowed him to understand more about himself and his money than before. That and Gail (Vaz Oxlade) has helped a lot. For me personally, it was a make or break thing as I watched money tear apart my parents marriage. I told myself that wouldn’t happen to me and started being open about it with everyone I know. I’ll be debt free this year and then I’ll be able to start saving for the things i want most in life!

4 Ryan

Since you didn’t discuss money stuff until you were ready to get married, would you have called the whole thing off if you found out GN had secret credit card debt? ;)

5 Kate

I think we were talking about money and finances on our first date? We’re both gigantic nerds, and he’s a mathematician and economist, so I like to think it was sort of inevitable!

6 Tim @ Faith and Finance

We dated for probably 3-5 months before we discussed anything financial. Since we were both in college, we didn’t have any money, so it was fun to share with each other about new jobs or income we made.

7 Matt

We didn’t talk about money until we starting planning our wedding. Our first serious money talk was two months into marriage. It’s tough to learn to communicate about money.

8 Austin

The REAL money talks came right after the engagement during pre-marital counseling. We moved pretty fast on the whole thing: started dating in october, engaged in August, married in January – Woo!

9 Denise

My partner and I have been together for almost 3.5 years and live together. Our individual finances have been known to each other since we originally talked of moving in together, which was about 1.5 years ago. Even though we knew we wouldn’t move in together for awhile (I moved an hour away for one year to attend graduate school), it seemed like if we were comfortable talking about that, we can be comfortable talking about money. I think another factor was that her employment included a life insurance plan, and when she decided to make me the beneficiary, it started discussion of, well, how much is 2xsalary?

10 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

I talk about money so much, I can’t imagine not knowing soon. I know pretty much everything about my gf’s personal finances because I help her with it. I’ve seen her credit report (helped her get it actually) and pretty much know everything, just like she knows everything of mine.

11 Robert @ The College Investor

My wife and I were so open about everything the whole time we were dating. We both have a passion for this stuff, and so we would always look for ways to save more, spend less, find an awesome rewards card, etc. It was cool knowing we were on the same page from the start.

12 Jeff

If I had to start dating again, I would start with leading questions fairly early into the relationship. Try to get things out of her like what is her monthly credit card payment, etc. If she’s a minimum balance payer then I would have to evaluate how serious the relationship is and whether it’s worth trying to change her. Like you, I’m ok with certain types of loans depending on the size and what it was for.

13 Wealth Artisan

Hi Ninja,
I respect you and Girl Ninja for not rushing into the money talk until you knew you both were serious. My wife and I did the same. It was the right decision for us because money was never part of our ‘dating’ relationship, we could focus on getting to know each other. Great post and I really enjoyed your stick figure dialogue.
Timothy

14 Mary M

Oh Ninja, you’re so dang cute when you are naive. You really think GN didn’t read it all on the blog?

15 Ninja

Oddly, Girl Ninja doesn’t read my blog except one a month maybe and probably not at all in the early stages. But you raise a valid point, she may have known more than I thought!

16 Laura

Hubby and I discussed money pretty early on. I’m an accountant and he is an engineer- so for some reason wonderfully nerdy topics like that come up a lot. :)

17 krantcents

We were fortunate that we had zero debt when we married (1968)! In fact, we started with modest savings which was close to $6,000. If things were different, the discussion would have been around the engagement time. I believe in being open with your mate. BTW, my wife and I dated three and a half years before we married. So far so good, 42+ years later.

18 Sara

While I agree that some things are better left unsaid until the time arises (such as minor financial mishaps that may show up on a credit report down the line, like not paying your Blockbuster bill on time or whatever), I don’t think that it makes sense to me to not discuss finances before getting engaged. Like what Ryan asked above – what if you get engaged, then find out your financial issues are too big to overcome? The way someone spends their money is a HUGE issue for marriages, so to me, it seems wise to discuss it before you even consider getting married, not when you’ve got the chapel booked & you’re 90% there. I can definitely understand why people would get divorced over money if you had never talked about it before or ever had any reason to understand your partner’s money-related habits. It’s on the same level as discussing having children, in my opinion – you wouldn’t want to get engaged then find out your partner doesn’t want kids when you want 5! Seems like we’re all pretty much of one opinion or the other! Heh.

19 Rafiki

When things get serious enough that you start planning a future.

20 Ashley @ Money Talks

It’s something I would rather talk about sooner than later. I move fast… my husband and I bought a house together 6 weeks after we started dating. But really, you can make pretty good guess about someone’s financial situation just by hanging out with them. You can tell if they are financially responsible or not.

21 Tom

I plan on waiting until a few months before I ask the girl to marry me. I’m not sure how I will put it. Maybe I’ll say something like “You know were getting pretty serious here, I think we might want to discuss our financial future.” I know that might ruin the suprise so to speak, but I most girls who know me know that I don’t date just for fun. I only date with marriage in mind. I’ll be able to judge her marriage potential based on her reaction. If she is defensive, I’ll know that I might want to think twice before getting a ring. If she is open and has a clear plan, then she’ll have a fun suprise in the future.

22 Evan

I am shocked no one made comment about the slow non-money stuff. How the hell did you handle not hearing the I Love You till 8 months after?

The celibacy thing also is very foreign to me (remember I talked about the stillettos the other day lo). Did you guys have other partners and decided to wait with each other? How does that work out during college? Is it none of my damn business?

23 Ninja

I guess we are both just patient people. We both were rocking our V-cards all the way til wedding day…with pride might I add. Believe it or not, it is possible to be in a relationship without sex…it’s rare nowadays, but entirely possible :)

24 Evan

Cool that you found someone with similar interests/values. I just figured with your drawing skills you would have had the hotties throwing themselves at you and there is only so many times a guy can say no lol

25 Ninja

You like stilettos I like, turtle necks. to each his own haha.

26 Skeet

Evan: I was celibate before marriage too but I couldn’t wait to say I love you. Just another v-card holder. :)

27 Evan

Wasn’t judging…just literally don’t know a single friend/acquaintance that went that route

28 Skeet

Don’t know anyone either Evan. No worries. :)

29 Corina

Ninja, I’m just curious – and in line with your post today … Do you feel that the parents should get involved in any way? Do you think it’s weird if the father of the bride , let’s say, asks for a credit report or something like that? Assuming you want to protect your (future) kid. The PF bloggers are all, obviously, careful and mindful of their spending, but 90 % of people aren’t – plus nobody says that your kid will care about money, either.
What would you do or what GN parents did?

30 Rebecca

very weird, if parents are concerned, let them help with a pre-nuptial agreement, but father of the bride should not be asking for a credit report, ever!

31 DonCarlos

My wife and I had full disclosure, financially speaking, very early. We were best friends prior to dating and I talked frequently about my money situation – we both were raised by families who could have been better with their money (hers especially), so we talked a lot about how we didn’t want to make the same mistakes. I knew that she was going to come out of university with a pile of student debt, and I’d be lying if I didn’t consider her discipline in paying off the loan in whether she was marrying material. We don’t have exactly the same ideas about money, but we’re fairly compatible. I’m a moderate saver, she’s a moderate spender. I’m a more moderately aggressive investor, she’s a moderately risk-averse investor. It works out well most of the time and most importantly, we’re still improving.

32 Tammy

My situation is a little different in that my boyfriend and I live in different countries. We were dating for literally two days before I had to come back to the states. So the next time I saw him in person (4.5 months later) I made sure to tell him my financial situation so that both of us, but especially he, could discern if we wanted to keep putting all of this effort into a long distance relationship because finances are a big deal. They say the majority of fights in marriages are about money. And since I have a lot of student debt and he has virtually no debt, I felt he had the right to know what he was getting into. Thankfully, I was still attractive enough to him! ;)

33 Andrea

I’ve made mistakes, I lived with a boyfriend, split finances… it didn’t work out. I will never do that again but finances will be discussed before discussions of marriage. I think I’ve changed too much, being smart financially is too important to me to let that subject just chill until marriage talk. I’m fine with someone being different, that’s totally cool… but I need to at least have an idea of how the other person handles their money.

34 Rebecca

I guess our situation was a lot different, my fiance and I are both divorced and I hired him, so i knew what he made, i also had his social security number, back ground check and credit check, LOL. Part of the hiring process :)

We started dating a few months after he had been hired at my company, and we moved in together after 6 months. We had to discuss who was paying for what, i already knew what he made, and having already gone through the marriage and divorce we were both very open about these things.

I suggest to find out as much as you can as soon as you can, but without being weird, shallow or creepy. And it’s not because you feel the need to be with someone rich, but you need to be with someone who is responsible.

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