Financial Advice for Women: Who Should Pay for What When You're Dating or Married? by Nicole Middendorf
Who should pay for a date? When is the right time to discuss money with a potential partner? I want women to feel comfortable and confident talking about financial matters with anyone. I’ve been a financial advisor for so long that many days I feel like a financial therapist.
Money is hugely important to a relationship’s ultimate success. Women are now more in control of their finances, more successful and waiting longer to get married. But they are still uncomfortable talking about money which causes it to become an issue. Here are three common scenarios:
Not Knowing If You’re Dating a Frog or a Prince: Modern dating is grueling enough as it is. After weeks of swiping and awkward messaging, you sit down across from a stranger and spend about 90 minutes assessing: Am I attracted to them? Am I enjoying their company? Something you might not be questioning on the first date – but should be – is whether this person has a good credit score. A lot of people are living beyond their means trying to impress someone. Women may not realize until it’s too late that by marrying someone, they’d just trashed their credit. That’s very common.
While you might not want to hop into this topic before you’ve learned their middle name, it’s not insane to consider, as you begin falling for someone, whether they’re good with money.
- Notice the kind of dates they plan.
- Listen to how they talk about their childhood or current job.
- Ask about their next vacation.
Not Knowing How to Balance Expenses When You're Married or Living Together: In a Debt.com survey of divorcing couples, 66 percent of respondents said their ex’s spending habits were different than expected after getting married. Both spouses spend, but their approach is often different. It’s often influenced by how they were raised plus baggage from past relationships. The spending issue also comes up frequently with blended families when deciding who pays for the kids’ stuff.
I suggest having a money date. The first one may need to be in a public place since it’s such a sensitive topic. Sit down and figure out your expenses and what you’ll spend. I don’t tell people how to set a budget because they need a system that works for their relationship. Some people use percentages based on income. A survey by TD Bank found that nearly half of couples with joint bank accounts also have individual bank accounts.
Not Taking Care of Yourself First: Don’t look for someone to take care of you financially. If I’ve learned anything in my years of post-divorce dating, it’s that you’ve got to love yourself first. Loving yourself means being completely in control of your own finances. People put so much focus on money but that’s not what’s going to make you happy. I’ve met women who are so dazzled by the rich men they’ve chosen to date, they can’t see how shallow or rude or heartless these guys truly are. Getting together with someone just because he’s extremely wealthy won’t bring happiness if you don’t have a healthy relationship.
If you’ve been out of the dating pool for a while, you may have forgotten that meeting someone can be an expensive endeavor! I suggest looking at your budget and figuring out approximately how much to set aside for dating costs. Expenses might include online dating fees, car fare, meals and dating activities such as movies or concerts. You might also need to factor in gifts as you get deeper into a relationship.
My life goal is to reduce the divorce rate by helping couples – and especially women – feel less intimidated when talking about money. We’re installing a workout area and a wine bar in our building. We’re holding Women, Wine and Wealth events. It’s time to bury the taboos and help relationships endure by finding someone who shares your money values and getting help if you're fighting over money.
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