To Date or Dump: The First Financial Clues

by Jessica Sommerfield · 3 comments

couple love
Let’s face it – financial status or habits rarely determine who you’d ask out (or who to accept) on a date. But should you continue onto the second date if the potential partner is a spendrift? There will be many clues about a person’s financial situation and how they handle money as early as the first date. Your reaction to these clues will depend on your financial beliefs and habits, but early consideration of what they might imply will help you determine if a date is financially compatible before you get entangled in a relationship. How you react to the following financial clues could determine your financial future, so pay attention.

Clue #1: Who Pays for the Date

There is apparently disagreement between men and women about who is ‘supposed’ to pay for a first date. Men generally believe the person who asked for the date should pay, whereas women tend to believe the man should always pay the first time, regardless of who asked who.

Setting aside prejudices about protocol, notice whether your date automatically pays, whether they ask which you prefer, whether they assume you’ll pay, or whether they ask for you to pay. Either of the first two are perfectly acceptable, but the last two response should give you pause. Unless they apologize for leaving their wallet at home, this might be a sign they are struggling financially. Someone who’s struggling with finances isn’t automatically poor at money management, but it’s definitely a reason to look further into their habits.

Clue #2: Using Coupons or Insisting on Cheap Venues

Frugality is certainly something to be desired in a partner. The issue here, though, is whether it’s appropriate to showcase extreme frugality the first few dates, since it comes off as stingy. Especially beware of someone who tells you what you can or can’t order off the menu when they’re paying. Financial control is a good trait, but manipulation is not. On the other hand, it could be a good sign that they’re reasonably frugal and have higher priorities than entertainment if your date doesn’t insist but merely shows a preference for cheaper venues and restaurants, so don’t kick them to the curb just yet.

relationships and financeClue #3: Dropping a Lot of Money

Being too cheap is a warning sign, but spending too freely is also a reason for concern. It’s possible your date is financially responsible, has a great career, and can afford to splurge. It’s also possible they’re used to living beyond their means and racking up credit card debt. Lastly, people who spend lavishly on dates may be masking insecurities or trying to detract from undesirable traits, which could be even larger concerns than how much credit card debt they have.

Clue #4: A Drastic Difference in Income or Financial Status

Normal people don’t come right out and boast their salary on a first date, but neither is it hard to piece together a general idea of how much your date makes if you know their profession.

Dating someone who either makes drastically more or less than you do could be a warning sign of financial incompatibility. It’s not a matter of whether the person cares more about you than your income: it represents a potential difference in spending habits and resources that could lead to consistent disagreements, feelings of resentment, or other finance-based relational issues.

These financial clues aren’t conclusive pieces of evidence that will make or break the decision to date someone long-term, but they are important relationships indicators. As the first few glimpses into the financial habits of a potential partner, they are valuable to solving the puzzle of who you should run from versus who you may want to get close to.

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  • BrokemarriedGuy says:

    After years of frugal living (and reading this site with great interest), I married a woman who is far more free with her spending than I. After four years of battling the difference, she admitted recently that she’d been hiding 30k in credit card debt since the day we met. Let this be a lesson.

  • Maarten says:

    I love this article as it makes a lot of sense but I think it should be titled “If only I had paid attention to ….”. Clearly on a first date your mind is completely elsewhere. Oh, and call me old fashioned, first date is to be paid by men.

  • Pete says:

    As a guy, if my female (first) date wants to split the bill, it’s time to split.

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