It’s not a secret: relationships take a lot of hard work. It’s tough to intertwine lives, beliefs, and finances in a peaceful and harmonious way that satisfies both parties. You want things one way. Your partner may want them another.
There are constant compromises and sacrifices to endure. Whose turn is it to choose the movie? Why pasta for dinner again? Why do you get to buy a PS4, but I can’t have a new cell phone?
When you add money issues into the mix, things sour — and fast. So fast, they can occasionally curdle. Sometimes, there’s nothing left to do but throw everything away.
Start your relationships off on the right foot. By knowing yourself and your partner’s financial states of mind, you’ll ease many of those inherent tensions and make life more livable.
There are several things to consider when choosing your financial mate: money beliefs, values, and habits. These things determine what our financial lives are like, why we make certain decisions, and how we spend our cash.
What Are Your Money Beliefs?
What are your money beliefs? That money is sacred? That the more you have, the better off you’ll be? That someone else will always be there to help you? That there’s never enough?
If you believe that money is sacred, you won’t likely pair well with someone who believes that someone else will (and should) take care of them. They’ll look to you to do exactly that, and you’ll hold on to your quarters as tightly as you can, ripping the cloth of their universe.
When they want something, they’ll expect you to cough up the cash — and you’ll cringe at the thought of losing that dollar. Fights are natural, but resentment may eat away at you first. Sure, life is about compromise, but if your beliefs are at opposite ends of the spectrum, it’ll take forever for you to find that middle ground.
Have the conversation about money beliefs (and watch your partner’s actions) early on to avoid later beefs that can (and probably will) make life difficult.
But, it’s not all about the beliefs.
What Are Your Money Values?
Your values are what make you chase the things you want. When it comes to money, what you do matters. You can dig into your partner’s values by asking them a few questions.
Good questions to ask your partner about money values:
What’s important to you about money?
How do you spend your free time?
How do your finances express your values?
For some people, having a lot of money is very important. For others, they want just enough to pay the bills and won’t likely spend a lot of time working for more. These are polarized values. If you’re not on the same page, you’ll be swearing at your partner about why they need to work late every night, or why they don’t get up and work hard like you do.
Knowing your own opinions before confronting a potential (or current) mate can help you align your values and see where your financial future is headed together.
What Are Your Money Habits?
What money means to you, and what you spend your time chasing, are two essential indicators of how well you and your financial mate will fare — but habits are the true test for compatibility.
Picking up items as you want them, without regard to the credit balance, will drive the no-credit-card-option partner insane. Not giving up one penny to make “necessary” purchases will (of course) drive the shopaholic mad.
Pair up with someone who lives similarly to you. If you’re frugal, make your life easier by finding someone like-minded, rather than falling (and settling) for fireworks alone.
When you’re talking to potential dates/mates, look past the rose-colored beginnings and into the future. Going beyond goo-goo eyes and into frank discussions on finances will save you mountains of future heartache.
What have you found to be the biggest financial difference between you and your mate?