Money and Life
(Financial Planning Association of Australia)
Want to find out how a new love interest handles their finances? Discover how to get to the bottom of their money habits without killing the romance in our date-by-date guide.
Money is a tricky topic to bring up at the best of times. And when you’re getting to know someone new at the start of a romance, it can feel like money-talk will spoil the mood between you.
But on the other hand, our different feelings and behaviours around moneycan quickly become the cause of some serious relationship dramas. So it makes sense to do a little sleuthing to determine whether you’re a good match from a financial perspective. We bring you this date-by-date guide to conversations you can have and clues to look for to get a good idea about how your latest love interest handles money.
You’re probably feeling a little bit excited, nervous and curious all at the same time. Once the butterflies have settled and conversation is starting to flow, stay alert to these signs that speak volumes about your date’s attitude towards money. Plus, you can throw in a topic or two to draw out some more clues about their money situation, without making it obvious.
Who chose the venue for your date? If your date did and it’s on the expensive side, this could show a ‘money is there to be enjoyed’ approach to life. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you’re a saver and they’re a spender there could be some challenging discussions to be had around money in your future together.
Who gets to pay the bill? If they’re slow to put their hand in their pocket, that could mean they’re already under some pressure financially and don’t feel comfortable to pick up the whole tab. If they suggest splitting the bill, this could be a clue to a more equal approach they have to finances in a relationship.
What you do for a living is a pretty natural thing to bring up on a first date. You can use this opportunity to grill your date a little about their first job and later career choices. This doesn’t mean you’re looking at their earning potential so you can look forward to being a kept man or woman some day! It’s more about why they started earning money in the first place and what their career and salary has made possible for them. This can tell you a lot about what money means to them. For example, is a higher salary what they look for in a job, or do they place more value on working with the right team or in the right role?
Pay attention to some recent experiences your date talks about. If their social life is all about weekends away and dining out, you could do a little probing to find out whether they stick to a budget or splash out to keep up with their friends. If they mention trips overseas, ask where they stayed and what they enjoyed most. Perhaps they’re happy to bunk down in a hostel to make their dollars go further on international adventures, rather than going five-star all the way and dealing with the credit card balance later.
Once you’ve reached second date territory, it’s clear that you like each other. So you can afford to go beyond playing it cool and pay your date a compliment on what they’re wearing. In learning where they bought it, you’ll get a handle on their spending habits. If they prefer to shop at Target rather than Tom Ford, you’ll know their wardrobe doesn’t take a big chunk of their cash flow. This could also open up a whole conversation about what they like to spend money on generally. Are they more of a fashion fiend or a tech lover when it comes to splurging on something new?
A third date may not be the time to be meeting future in-laws, but talking about family is probably on the getting-to-know-you agenda by now. Finding out what your date’s parents do for a living, for example, can give you clues about the lifestyle they’re used to having. If their parents are already retired and off travelling the world, this could be a sign that they’ve modelled good savings habits for their kids. In talking about your own family relationships, you can share the money values your own Mum and Dad have passed on. This can a great way to break the ice on the money matters without being obvious about it.
A little blue sky thinking can be a great way to discover if you and your date have similar goals in life. Finding out if buying a home or travelling the world is a top priority can indicate how compatible you are in general, as well as financially. Asking the question ‘what would you be doing in 10 years’ time if money were no object?’ doesn’t mean you’re expecting your love interest to be a millionaire before the next decade is over. It’s more about whether you both get excited by similar goals and how you see your journey through life unfolding.
Most of the time these life goals are going to take money to make them happen. Expecting someone to have a carefully thought out savings plan for their entire future sets the bar a little high for the early days of dating. But if you do end up in it for the long haul, establishing some common ground in how each of you see your future, including how you’re going to fund it, sets some clear expectations for what life could be like for you as a couple.