How to find your partner in love AND money
Dating and relationships can be tricky business in the best of circumstances, but things can be even more difficult if your money values are different. If you're a saver and your partner is a spender, you may find yourself fighting over money all the time, for instance. Here is how to find your financial love match, and what to do if the person you fall madly in love with has different views when it comes to money.
Attitudes about debt
If you are ok with carrying a bit of balance on a credit card as long as you can manage your payments, but your partner pays all their credit card bills in full, this can become a major irritant in your relationship. When it's time to combine financial accounts and financial goals, it may not work if one person is diligently paying in cash only and the other is accumulating interest. Sit down and talk about the merits of paying a credit card in full, or, if you are the one carrying the balance, be open to hearing how much it's costing you and what you could gain by paying it off each month. If you want to make a clear case for not carrying obligations, use a simple debt calculator to show the fee spending partner how much the debt is costing them, and then compare it to something else you could use the money on.
Until a couple lives under one roof, outside of picking up a bottle of wine on the way to party, there may not have been a real opportunity to buy groceries, especially staples like eggs and cheese. Start going grocery shopping together from the beginning of your relationship and you will quickly know what each of your buys and for how much; if you're a coupon clipper who is always shopping the flyers but your partners is not, their wasteful habits might irk you. Talk to them about finding a grocery shopping style that will work for both of you. To come to an agreement, have each of your take the lead every other week. This way you will learn from each other without getting in each other's way.
You can tell a lot about someone's money habits by the way they pay the restaurant bill. Do they reach for the bill every time and pick up the tab? Do they split it with you or do they expect you to pay? All of these situations are fine in isolation but can be a red flag if they are unwilling to change their attitude towards money. Everything needn't be 50/50, but both parties should be picking up a fair share of the bill to show they're an equal partner in the relationship. If you can't afford to go to a certain destination for a meal or a night out, say so, so that your partner realizes that this is out of your financial comfort zone. Then as a couple you can decide how to make an ideal outing happen.
You may meet someone who is obligated to finance their parent's lifestyle: maybe their parents can't work, or maybe this is that person's way of saying 'thank you' to their parents. Whatever the reason, this can be a major point of contention for couples, where one party may feel upset that money made in their household is being spent elsewhere. If this is something you can't manage, it would make sense to talk to your partner about why they are supporting their family and how long it will continue. If you are unhappy with their answer you may have to consider if this is truly a money (and life) match for you.
One hard fact that every couple should know is money is one of the major reasons for divorce in Canada. According to a poll by the BMO Bank of Montreal, 68% of those surveyed say fighting over money would be their top reason for divorce. For this reason, it is important to get your money matters sorted out early in your relationship. Align your values. Even if you have different attitudes about saving and spending, find common ground that you can both work with. In this case, love is not enough to see you through.