Talking about money when you are dating can get awkward and tense. But when you try to understand the fears and reasons behind your partner's behaviours, actions, and beliefs, especially their values, their goals, and future plans with playful and inquisitive conversations, being financially well-off as a couple is a real and achievable goal.
When you are getting to know someone, you are usually in a bubble of thrill and excitement because of the attention, curiosity, and prospects of having a mushy future together. Though money conversations do eventually come up as you get to know someone better, it can be awkward, especially if you are not good at communicating it the way it is required. Money talks aren't really a sexy topic because people could be afraid of being judged or might want to protect their financial status from being common knowledge for some time.
But money conversations are essential, even if they are considered ''taboo''. Money is usually one of the top reasons why people get divorced and getting to know your prospective partner's money habits, values, and money personality will help you decide how to prepare for the next phase of your life. So here are some money conversations you can have when you are on a date and getting to know someone:
When you are getting to know someone:
1. Focus on playful & inquisitive conversations: Instead of approaching it as a serious matter, try to have conversations that are playful, inquisitive, and filled with fun and curiosity. For eg: ‘If you got a windfall of an extra Rs 10,000 this month, what would you do with it?’ or ‘If you had a magic wand that would wipe out one of your debts, which one would you choose?' Situation-based questions help you understand a person's priorities.
2. Understand what money really means to them: Discover and acknowledge what money means to both of you since that will go a long way in resolving money conflicts later. For someone who comes from a financially well-off background, taking a job may not be that important. But if a person is the breadwinner of the house, they might prioritise money over everything else.
3. Family’s values about money: Understanding a person's family values on money and understanding how your person feels about these values today (and how he has felt about it previously) gives a glimpse into their upbringing and everyday mindset. Check with them if their personal views on money align with that of their parents (and with you) and try to understand what they agree and disagree with.
4. Current habits and lifestyle: Many couple stereotypes exist where one partner is seen as the ''Saver'' while the other is the ''Spender''. But this doesn't hold true most of the time, because each person has a different way of spending and saving money as per their lifestyle. So even though you might want to go for a movie every twice a month and splurge on a fancy dinner later, your partner might see this as an opportunity to save 5000 bucks or more every month. So having the conversation to find a balance between enjoying the fancy dinner and saving money is something you might want to prepare for.
When you want to take the next step:
5. Future plans: Understand what your partner's idea of ''this much money is enough'' is. What do they deem enough to be comfortably settled? A certain amount of money? X no of homes or Y number of cars? A joint family or living with a small core family in a place far away? Who should pay for what? What are you not willing to pay for? Future plans go hand in hand with your needs and affect the financial requirements that you might want to plan for.
6. Past money mistakes: Terrible financial mistakes of the past can have a lot of impact on a family, both physically, mentally, and financially. Understanding your person and his family's history with money can lead to big insights into their current beliefs and attitude around spending, saving, and investing. Inquire about these mistakes and the lessons they implement from these past situations.
For eg: If your partner's parents lost a lot of money or gold in the business many years back, they might never want to invest in the same again. So if you tend to have future plans of investing in your own or any other business, you may or may not receive support from your partner's parents because they still haven't recovered from old beliefs.
7. Beliefs about savings, debt, emergency funds, and bank accounts: Managing money and deciding on savings, debt management, and multiple bank accounts is a financial decision that will affect the rest of your life. This is why you need to have an idea of your person's present and future goals to figure out if you are on the same page. Though people have diverse beliefs about separate and joint bank accounts, a conversation around acknowledgment of roles and responsibilities and accounting for a revamp of current plans (if it is ever needed) is required.
Money is a major cause of anxiety in relationships because every person has a different money personality. That's why you always need to listen to each other’s fears and the 'Why' behind spending money and then work out a plan for dealing with it. This is if you want to be a smart couple, coz as they say: Smart couples finish rich. What other awkward conversations do you think one should have when they are dating someone? Tell us in the comments!