When you’ve just started a new relationship, credit card debt and bond funds are probably the last things you want to talk about when you’re enjoying a sunset picnic. As unromantic as talking about money may seem, it’s still one of the most important things you should discuss before getting too involved with someone. You’ve heard the story about the girl who moves in with her boyfriend only to find out he’s knees deep in debt, with only $20 to his name. We’re all independent and intelligent ladies (or guys!) so let’s make sure we get all the facts before signing a one-year lease with our supposed Mr or Mrs Right.
Some women may argue that bringing up money so early in a relationship is a sure way to make you look like the only thing you’re interested in is his bank account, but I would like to argue that his isn’t the only bank account at stake. Men are just as capable as women of taking advantage of their partner’s generosity and kindness. Just because he’s a really good listener and always offers to take out the trash, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still keep track of how many times he tells you “I’ll pay for it next time.”
A great book to consider reading when you’ve started dating someone new is First Comes Love, Then Comes Money by Bethany and Scott Palmer. In their book they discuss a few different money personalities, such as the saver and the spender. You may be a saver who works hard for your money and takes pride in seeing her savings grow every paycheque, but what if your new boyfriend is a spender who can’t control his shopaholic ways? This guy may have every box ticked on your potential husband list, but is it worth marrying someone who could potentially drive you both into bankruptcy? Or perhaps the roles are reversed, and every week you look forward to checking out what’s new at the mall, whereas your boyfriend refuses to spend the extra dollar for a coffee at Starbucks because McDonalds is cheaper. Could you live with his constant judgment of your spending habits and his strict frugality?
It’s common knowledge that one of the main things couples argue about is money, and a lot of that stems from lack of trust and secrecy. If you have a joint account with your boyfriend but don’t trust his money management skills, he may take that to mean you don’t trust him entirely. If you feel the urge to hide your latest purchases from him for fear of discovery, that’s almost equal to flat out lying to his face. Trust, honesty, and communication are the three pillars of a healthy relationship, and making sure you and your partner are both open about your finances is part and parcel.
I’m not suggesting you swap bank account passwords with your new beau right away, but discussing your opinions on managing money in the first few months of dating will definitely help you determine whether you can build a future together. Can you see yourself buying a house, sharing a credit card, or paying your bills with him? If the answer is no, then it might be time to say goodbye to your bass guitarist lover and start a new search for a more financially compatible soul mate.
Moosers, what's your stance on this? How soon is too soon to be talking about money in your new relationship?