Credit Savvy Journeys – Romance & Finance
Romance and finance? It has a ring to it and I learned over the years that they certainly can work out fine together.
My partner and I began dating four years ago. We have always been an active couple, enjoying our hikes and surfing, so the subject of money did not come to question until months later. At most, I thought about who was grabbing the coffee or lunch in our relationship. I think this is something that most couples in their early stages of dating can relate to. Initially, you just don’t think too deeply about serious things like finance.
As months moved past, we moved into the awkward, transition stage. Do you know what I mean, when I say that we were conflicted about how to introduce money in our conversations? Because the topic was not naturally intervened in our past dates, taking the next step and bringing it into our language felt random and strange. At the same time, the longer we held off and waited, the stranger it was going to become.
Reflecting on our first year, one mistake that I did with Mitchell was to try to avoid all financial conversations. I guess I was afraid that it would kill the romance. At the time, Mitchell had a full-time stable job and I was working at a café part-time, trying to complete my uni degree. I was a bit insecure about that as well, and now that I am thinking back, there was absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. If I was to go back to that time, I would approach the subject with calm.
So, how did I introduce money into our lives? I was transitioning jobs and I did a simple miscalculation of my payday and increased my spending in anticipation of receiving my salary. When I realised the mistake I made, I remember looking at my bank account with $500 to go through the next month, feeling dumb. I knew that I had to ask him to pay a little more this month if we go out, or to cut off from any expensive activities.
We were in the car and suddenly, I just asked, “do you have money?” There was an awkward pause and then he began laughing. It extended into long laughter and he said, “yes, I guess so, I – I own some money.” He said that this was the most amusing way of starting a money conversation, that I made his week.
His warmth and transparency about everything made me realise that there is no reason to have cold discussions about finance within your romantic relationship. You can be both serious and warm.
I think a lot of people new in their relationship don’t know how to talk about finance because of how they assume the topic would be handled. However, I learned that money can smoothly be integrated into day-to-day chats. It does not have to be a giant dramatic blast or a deep and intimidating activity.
The best part is that once one conversation begins, the others follow with much more ease. It is as simple as asking your date’s advice about negotiating for a raise, describing the holiday that you want to be saving up for, or even stating how much you are willing to spend on a date night this month.
There are no right or wrong answers to this subject and in a relationship, there should be no expectations to be on the same page about money every day. This can be an emotional subject, but it is okay to think differently.
When you talk through things with your partner, then you start to work as a team. It becomes easier to make decisions for the future, understand their life goals and respect and support each other.
One piece of advice that I would give to couples is to not be afraid of introducing finance into romance. It is better to have conversations early and regularly.
I think the second piece of advice that I would give out is to keep in mind that judgements should not be a part of the money conversation. The ultimate aim is to understand your partner’s long-term goals and values.
This is how we saw a future in each other.