We’ve talked a lot about newlywed finances, combining or keeping finances separate in marriage, and how to start a financial conversation with a significant other.
When you’re married or in a long-term committed relationship, you HAVE to work out the financial kinks. You have to discuss, be on the same page, and make financial decisions together.
If you don’t get on the same page, you’re going to have problems. In a Kansas State longitudinal study across 4,500 couples, financial arguments were cited as the top reason for divorce. And then there’s the marriages that don’t end in divorce, but the couple is miserable because they constantly argue about finances.
But what about before you ever get to the ultimate level of long-term commitment?
Finances are a pervasive issue, right from the get go, after all. Who hasn’t wondered who should pay for the first date or how much should you spend on the first date (and then the second) in those precarious moments? It may seem petty to dwell on those questions, but a story is starting to be written…
Fun debates aside, to what level should you put stock in financial compatibility? Lets say you’re on one of your first few dates with someone. Things are going good. You find them attractive, the conversation is stimulating, and they even smell nice!
But then they drop a bomb:
“I only have $100,000 in student loan debt remaining.”
“My credit score is in the low 600’s and I can’t get a credit card. Can you pick this one up?”
“I spend about $500 per month on new clothes.”
“I am trying to pay off these credit cards. Only about $20,000 to go!”
“My leased Escalade gets 10 miles per gallon, isn’t that great?!”
“I have to pay my ex $2,000 per month in alimony, which leaves me with nothing.”
“As long as I spend less than what I make, I feel like I’m in good shape.”
“I’m about $200,000 under water on my home. Guess I’m stuck for a while!”
“I have a $25,000 collection of Furby’s.”
Now before you call me a shallow jerk for suggesting that someone should be dropped for such statements, consider this. Most of us make or have judgements on relationship success based on things such as age, education level, religious denomination, occupation, appearance (height, weight, smile, posture, firmness of butt, etc., etc., etc.), food tastes, smell of breath, sense of humor, music preferences, or whether said person held that door for us on the way out of the restaurant.
Would it not make sense that we then take in to strong consideration the #1 predictor of long-term relationship success – financial compatibility?
And at the very least, shouldn’t you dig a little deeper on related topics to find out if the person has completely incompatible financial values and goals?
Hypothetically, what if you’re Mr/Ms. Frugality – you have your finances in order, you want to buy a home, you have zero debt, and you even have the goal of financial independence and early retirement? You’ve got a hot date, but they drop 2 or 3 of the above bombs on you by date #4. Your date, you determine, is completely financial incompatible with you. Would you ride it out when there are thousands, maybe millions of other hot dates out there that have financial values and goals that are perfectly aligned with yours?
I would put the odds on you being able to find another date who is more financially compatible and meets many of the required superficial specifications as much higher than trying to change your existing date’s value set and then see them dig themselves out of their hole over a few years while you patiently observe.
Of course, you may have other things in mind than a long-term relationship, and to that end, who doesn’t like a nice butt?
Dating & Financial Compatibility Discussion:
- Have you or would you ever drop a financial deadbeat based on that quality alone? If you have, share your story.
- Have you been dropped for being a deadbeat in your past life?
- What types of financial deficits or value discrepancies would be a deal killer for a long-term relationship?
- How important do you think financial compatibility is to relationship success?