A new CreditCards.com survey has found that the majority of U.S. adults believe it’s okay to ask about credit, debt and income when starting a committed relationship. But how do you make such topics less uncomfortable?
Dating can be a beautiful thing, but it’s full of unique challenges. Besides figuring out whether you’re compatible, navigating differences and conflicts, and determining if your goals align, there are subjects you may not be looking forward to broaching.
Money is one such topic. When do you ask your significant other or potential partner about their credit? When is it okay to ask about their income? These are important questions, yet it may feel incredibly awkward to bring them up.
Read on to learn what most Americans think about the timing of these questions, why you can’t afford to avoid them and how to discuss them despite the awkwardness.
Most U.S. adults think it’s okay to ask a romantic partner about finances when going steady
A recent CreditCards.com survey found that most Americans believe it’s fair to ask a romantic partner about finances once the relationship becomes more serious.
For instance, 74% of respondents think it’s okay to ask your partner about debt when you’re dating, exclusive or moving in together. Further, 68% find it fair to ask about your partner’s credit score in these situations and 74% think it’s fine to ask how much your partner is making.
Young people seem to be more comfortable with these topics, breaking societal taboos. For example, Gen Z (18 to 25 years old) is most likely to ask a romantic partner about their credit score (11%), debt (14%) and salary (14%) within the first few dates.
To compare, only 4% of baby boomers (58 to 76 years old) find it appropriate to talk credit scores at such an early stage, 5% say it’s okay to talk about salary within the first few dates and 7% think it’s fair to discuss debt early on.
Looking at these numbers, we can assume younger generations are more progressive when it comes to money talk in a relationship. This is a positive trend since these conversations are crucial. Talking about money early (and often) is healthy for both your relationship and your finances.
How to talk to your romantic partner about finances
Some don’t think couples should talk about certain money topics at all. In fact, we’ve found that one in 10 Americans believe you should never ask your romantic partner about their salary or debt, and 12% think it’s never fair to ask about your partner’s credit score.
However, that’s not the best strategy.
Your spending habits and financial goals are a big part of your values. They define your lifestyle and your short- and long-term plans. For that reason, when you meet someone you can see yourself sharing your future with, it’s essential to make sure you share financial values, as well.
Say that your goal is homeownership, and you’re working on improving your credit. You’re dating someone who’s dreaming about living the “van life” full-time and doesn’t believe in credit at all. Whether or not you decide to make it work, you need to be aware of such differences to make that decision.
Just like most things in a relationship, this is achievable through communication.
Time your questions right
You probably don’t want to come to the first date and flat-out ask how much your date is making (or maybe you do, in which case I can only applaud your boldness). You also don’t want to find out post-proposal that your marriage includes a load of debt.
There’s no single answer as to when exactly is the right time to ask money questions. However, it’s best to make sure you’re financially compatible before fully committing, whatever the term “committed relationship” means to you.
Fortunately, you may not need to set up some “big talk,” as many things come up naturally – which brings me to my next point.
Let the subject come up naturally
As you get to know your romantic partner and spend time with them, certain questions will most likely come up on their own.
For example, you can get a glimpse into how sharing expenses will go when you split money on outings.
When you’re talking about goals and dreams, it’s an opportunity to bring up topics like paying down debt, whether it’s credit cards or student loans, and saving, whether it’s for a vacation or a down payment on a home.
Thinking of going on a date to a fancy restaurant? That’s a chance for you to mention your budget and casually prod your partner to talk about theirs.
If you’re talking about renting a place together, there’s no avoiding income questions since you need to know how much rent you can both afford. You can also bring up credit history since it’s often considered in leasing decisions.
If your love interest is reluctant to talk about financial matters in casual situations, you may need to have a more serious conversation. Try to be empathetic. This is the kind of subject that makes people feel vulnerable. Make sure you stay respectful and pass no judgement to make the conversation less uncomfortable.
Talk about money regularly
The best way to make finances an easier topic is to communicate about it regularly. This will help you get used to discussing money matters and make financial transparency a norm in your relationship.
This is especially important if you’re in a committed relationship. Make it a point to sit down and talk money with your partner at least once a month. You can look into your shared expenses and savings and discuss if anything needs to be adjusted.
Remember that you’re a team. Discussing money is all about supporting your relationship and your shared and individual goals. You may have different money styles and wants, but that doesn’t have to be an issue if you’re open and willing to work together and compromise.
Most Americans agree that it’s fair to ask a romantic partner about finances, especially once the relationship becomes serious.
It’s essential to be transparent about money in a relationship. However, while it may seem like common sense, it’s often easier said than done.
To avoid awkwardness, time your money questions right and try to let them come up naturally. As your relationship progresses, make conversations about money a regular occurrence to create financial intimacy. It may take some time for this topic to become less uncomfortable, but such talks will save you much conflict and potential money issues in the future.