MONEY matters

Mark Zaifman's thoughts on money, global economic trends and politics

Looking For a Good Financial Values Match in the Dating Game

Mark Zaifman   |    Thu, Jan 31, 2013 @ 12:52 PM

check financial values and credit scores when dating If you’re a single boomer and find yourself happily or begrudgingly back in the dating scene, it’s only a matter of time before the right person comes along and captures your heart as well as your imagination.

Over time, as the relationship becomes more serious, you allow your thoughts to run wild with endless what-if possibilities. Soon you find yourself daydreaming and starting to believe that he or she could be the one.

Yet suddenly, in the middle of your latest daydream you feel the familiar sensation in your gut that’s alerting you to pay attention. At first you ignore it, but a few days later, in the middle of visualizing the future with your new guy/gal, there’s that darn pang again.

As a self-aware and intuitive person, you know that if you ignore that intuitive sensation that’s desperately trying to send you a message, it would be at your own peril. So this time, you  stop, check in with yourself and seek to discover what’s causing that feeling.

Confused and unsure, you run down the mental checklist in your head of all the things you love about this new person in your life. Recalling how much your close friends have warmed to him/her, you think about how well you got along on your last weekend getaway - yet, what is it that’s triggering this feeling that won’t go away?

Love and Money

It's Sunday night, and as you perform your month-end bill paying routine, the light bulb goes off as you confront the source of that uneasy feeling.

Suddenly, you realize that you know absolutely nothing about the financial situation of your new love. So far, you’ve split costs on dates and trips - at times he’s paid the total tab, other times you have. As far as outward appearances; he has a nice townhome he’s been renting since his divorce was final a couple years ago, he drives a nice car and has a well paying job. That’s the extent of your knowledge regarding his personal finances.

You realize you don't know where his values lie in terms of what's really important in his financial life, and now there are a million more questions running through your mind.

Is there a polite way to ask for his credit score? Has he ever declared bankruptcy? Does he manage his money well? Does he have adequate savings and investments for retirement? He seems to have it together in terms of a work life balance, but does he live within or below his means or does he use credit cards to live beyond his means?

Next, you begin to recall the challenges you and your ex had around money. How you were the saver and he was the spender, how your financial goals never really meshed, how often conflict arose around money and how little you knew about the true state of your joint finances until it was too late.

It occurs to you that there is so much you don’t know - but need to know.

You’ve spent many years since your divorce rebuilding your financial security; your credit score is the highest it’s ever been, your investments and savings are at an all time high, your mortgage on your home is nearly paid off. Your financial house is order. Yet what about your new partner’s financial picture?

The Money Talk That Needs to Happen

This fictional story illustrates how challenging the dating scene can be for boomers in their 50’s and 60’s, and if that’s not challenging enough, adding the money aspect to a new relationship creates even more landmines.

I purposely chose a woman in this story as the main character as I have the most experience working with single women in my financial planning practice compared to single men. Women have a difficult time asking a possible future partner about their money and all that entails. Because they are very often terrified about going down this road, the result is that far too often women make assumptions, and then decisions, that come back later to haunt them.

Even in 2013, money is still a taboo topic and not discussed openly. I’ve watched firsthand countless single female clients, especially women in their 50’s and 60’s, recoil at the mere suggestion they ask their partner about their overall financial picture.

Full Disclosure About Overalll Personal Finances

When entering a serious relationship, I can’t stress how important it is to have full disclosure about your overall personal finances. Both parties, prior to getting engaged, married or deciding to live together, should put their money facts on the table. The ramifications of not knowing your partners financial picture are huge.

You don’t want to wait until you decide to buy a new home together, rent a condo or lease a new car to discover your partner’s credit score is abysmal or they’re up to their eyeballs in debt. Then there’s the discussion of deciding whether or not to join your finances if you marry or live together. 

My suggestion is to start learning more by having a ‘money date’ with your partner. What you discover may shock you or happily surprise you, but the bottom line is you’ll be moving to the next step of your budding relationship with your eyes wide open.


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