As a young, single professional, dating is a regular part of my life—and one that presents its own unique financial challenges.
HAVING “THE TALK”…. ABOUT MONEY
It’s no secret that money is a priority to me. Any date that Googles me (it’s OK, we all do it) will find that out sooner rather than later.
Unsurprisingly, Ifind it attractive when a man has his financial house in order. Never mind tall, dark andhandsome; I will swoon for a debt-free guy with a growing retirement savings account.
Since asking someone to disclose their financial history is somewhat impolite (they might think you’re trying to steal their identity rather than determine if you’re a good financial match), I try not to pass judgment or make guesses early in the dating game.
Nevertheless, the conversation about debt and financial goals should come up at some point in any serious relationship. It’s particularly important in situations where you might be combining assets and sharing debts, like moving in together or getting married. The important thing is to never make assumptions, good or bad, and make sure you find out the details sooner rather than later.
PUTTING A PRICE TAG ON LOVE
Much of the early stages of datingcenters around trying to impress your date—and both women and men can often defaultto spending money in order to do this.
Men frequently pick up the tab at restaurants andsend flowers or gifts to show their affection. Women will drop more than a fewhundred dollars on new outfits and spa appointments to look their best for a partner.There’s nothing wrong with making these purchases to show interest in another person, but thesegestures should come second to your real financial obligations.
If a date asks me out to an expensive restaurant that’s out of my budget, I politely suggest a cheaper alternative. Likewise, while I would love to use every date night as an opportunity to buy a new outfit, I instead opt to wear what’s already in my closet with the hope that he’s more attracted to me than my sweater and skirt.
I don’t pretend to have more money than I actually do, and I don’t want the guy I’m seeing to do so either.
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
Having owed as much as $10,000 in consumer debt and another $20,000 in student loans, I’m not quick to judge when someone else is carrying a large debt load of their own. However, I also know that paying off debt requires reducing spending in other areas, and that can result in living a little bit below your desired lifestyle.
Alarm bells go off in my head if a guy drives up in an expensive car even though he’s living on a graduate student stipend, and I will admit I feel a little nervous if I see a credit card pop out of his wallet at every bill. I don’t care what a man earns, but I do care if his spending outpaces his salary.
When looking for a long-term partner, finances factor into the equation. It can take years to get out of debt and repair a damaged credit score, and I’m not sure I’m willing to take on that fight after defeating my own debt. Money is a huge priority in my life, and if that’s not shared by the person I’m seeing, then we really don’t have that much in common!
Have some tips for dating someone with debt? Share them in the comments.