As I read an article advising people who are dating on how to introduce money as a topic for discussion, I kept thinking that all of the suggestions ignore one simple thing – using your own observation skills.  One can gather a lot of info well before you even have that first serious money talk. I mean, in the beginning of any dating relationship, it would be pretty hard to start talking about setting a money goal together – right?

Before you launch into a discussion about credit scores and debt loads, considering just observing how your new date interacts with money – from the first date.

Date #1 – Who pays?

So, it’s date #1. Who pays? How does this get resolved? Was it a topic neither one of you wanted to bring up? Did you assume he would pay because, well, that’s the social norm? Did he pay? Were you put off when he did not pay? Did you agree to split and VENMO her your half? Did that open up a discussion about VENMO and any other money apps she might use to manage money?

See what I mean?

Date #2 – Are they a planner?

So the first date went well, and you’ve decided to go on Date #2. Who is planning the date? Is it you again this time? Does that mean your date is not a planner by nature? Could that also mean that they are not a saver by nature? Possibly they do not plan for the future – like investing in a 401(k)? As you are sharing info about backgrounds, education comes up. Any hint about whether or not they are still paying down education debt?

Date #3 – Money values?

Okay, so you’ve made it to Date #3.  Notice any hints about money values? Does SHE travel the world and value the education travel affords more than having an expensive apartment? Does HE drive a beat-up car because he wants to work in a job that he is passionate about, but does not afford him extra money to spend on things like new cars?

You see my point by now. You can observe a lot about how a person thinks about money in those initial dates. Understanding that everyone is likely on their best behavior, you can still see how a person lives their money life in those initial dates and can use some of those moments – like the VENMO split – to open the door a bit more naturally to more money talk.

Don’t ignore the obvious money behavior in these first dates. People rarely change.  And on these first dates, they are showing their best side. So, take note and move on if their money behavior is a bit scary.

Money differences will derail a relationship and divorce is the gateway to poverty. No need to go there if you keep your eyes open from the beginning and deal with reality from day one.

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Written by Susan Beacham
Susan Beacham founded Money Savvy Generation in 1999 after almost two decades in private banking and investment management complemented by considerable time teaching at the elementary level.

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