Dave talks about the importance of discussing money before getting married. But what about one step before that: How do you talk about it when you’re still dating?
Dating someone does not yet have the same long-term outlook as being married or engaged, but it’s a big step. When you start to discuss bigger matters with the person you are dating, you are in essence letting them know that you are thinking further down the road.
That must be done with some care, since one of you might think it’s all right to bring that up just a month into things and the other person may find themselves looking for the big neon sign that says “This Way Out of the Relationship!”
Here are some good things to remember when the subject of money is broached with your boyfriend/girlfriend:
1. The level of relationship equals the level of money talk
This goes along with the point we just made about bringing up certain subjects too soon. Money is a heavy topic, so give yourself some time to get deeper into the courtship. Talk about whether or not going to dinner tonight fits within your budget, for example. Once you’ve spent some time getting a better feel of how they view the small stuff, gradually increase the depth and scope of the conversation topics to things like big purchases, lifestyles, saving and retirement.
2. Speak generally at first
Maybe talk about how your family viewed money or what you’d do if you had a million dollars. Once the subject is on the table and the two of you have had some fun with it, maybe talk a little more in detail. Neither person should get too specific with their numbers until they are comfortable doing so. If the other person is pushing hard for information or wants a lot of your data, step back.
3. Don’t just talk about spending
When you have a conversation going, get (and give) a sense of what both of you think about saving long-term, investing, planning for retirement, and giving.
4. Look for “orange” flags
No two people are going to agree about everything—and that goes double for money. You have spenders and savers, Nerds and Free Spirits. If you disagree with your boyfriend/girlfriend about some money topic then find a compromise, that’s one thing. But if one or both of you refuses to budge on your stance, that could change an orange flag to a red one. It might mean a point of contention within marriage, which is never good.
No more money fights! Get on the same page with your money!
It’s all right if you and the other person don’t see perfectly eye to eye on money yet. You can talk about it and learn more about them. Just remember that this topic is the number-one cause of divorce in America, so if there is a big difference in your financial approaches, it could be a sign you aren’t with the right person.
Whether you agree on money or not, it’s better to learn that now rather than later.
How did you bring up the topic of money with your significant other? Tell us in the comments.