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Unromantic as it sounds, financial compatibility is one of the best predictors of relationship happiness.
When you start dating a guy, there are all kinds of clues you look for to assess if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re right for each other: Would you rather spend time with him than with anyone else? Can you totally be yourself around him? Are there fireworks between the sheets? Well, according to recent research, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one incredibly crucial factor that probably doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even cross your mind: money. A new survey by TD Ameritrade found that only five percent of people say money is an important consideration when choosing a partnerÃ¢â‚¬”yet 40 percent admitted they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fully trust their significant other with their combined finances, and couples argue about money an average of five times per year.
A ton of divorces are caused by financial conflicts, say Scott and Bethany Palmer, Ã¢â‚¬Å“the money couple,Ã¢â‚¬Â authors of The 5 Money Personalities. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Many people assume these fights revolve around long-term decisions like debt and retirement planning,Ã¢â‚¬Â they sayÃ¢â‚¬”but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not always true. Couples often clash over small issues that come up every day, like your spouse buying a double skinny mocha latte for $4.50 when he could make coffee at home for pennies. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s those nitpicky things that can ultimately kill a relationship,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Scott Palmer. So even though financial compatibility may not be on your radar early on, it should be. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how to tell if you and your newish man are a good pair-up when it comes to cash.
Start the conversation Ã¢â‚¬Å“SooooÃ¢â‚¬Â¦got any credit card debt?Ã¢â‚¬Â Uh, not exactly the opener you want to throw out there on a date. But discussing where you each stand on finances will give you insight into a guyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s money mindset. A better convo starter? Use this blog post as a jumping-off point. Tell him you were reading an article about money and relationships, and realized that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re more of a saver than a spender. Then ask him, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Off the top of your head, would you say youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a saver or a spender?Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a non-confrontational way to get the ball rolling because youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve revealed something about yourself first,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Scott Palmer. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Plus, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re probing him based on who he is rather than what he has.Ã¢â‚¬Â From there, segue into a more in-depth chat. If anything he says freaks you out (yikes, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 35 and doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a 401KÃ¢â‚¬” or heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so cautious with money that he hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t taken a vacation in three years), thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s evidence there might be financial drama in your future.
Think ahead Certain money habits that you find attractive in a boyfriend might drive you crazy in a husband, so youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll want to stay a few steps ahead of the game. For example, who wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t love being pampered by a guy who takes you out to fancy dinners and surprises you with blingy birthday jewelry? But ask yourself if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d feel differently about those earrings he dropped a grand on if the dough was coming out of your joint account. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Your dating lens is often very different from your marriage lens,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Bethany Palmer. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect him to change his tune after you walk down the aisle, though.
Spot red flags Even in the early stages of a relationship, there are tip-offs that a guy will be a crappy money partner down the line. One warning sign: HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fiscally controlling. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s telling you how you should spend your income, run,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Scott Palmer. At this point, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll show up in subtle ways (think comments like, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Is that another new dress?Ã¢â‚¬Â). Later on, that behavior can translate into him holding the purse strings, deciding where your money goes and how much you can accessÃ¢â‚¬Â¦and you feeling resentful and powerless as a result.
Another biggie is keeping secrets. Ã¢â‚¬Å“People are secretive because they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to be told no,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Scott Palmer. Ã¢â‚¬Å“So someone who lies in general will also lie about money.Ã¢â‚¬Â A guy who claims heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s working late but actually goes out with his buddies all night is the type to have a hidden bank account or conceal a bad financial decision from his wife.
Finally, take stock of how he acts when heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s out of his fiscal comfort zone. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s say you like to splurge on vacation, whereas heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pretty thrifty. Does he insist on staying at a hostel in Cabo when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re pushing for the luxe resort, or can he compromise with a mid-range hotel? Does he make a stink when you treat yourself to a massage on the beach, or can he let it go and indulge so long as itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only once in a while? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fine for you to have different philosophies about spending. But whether or not heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s able to find common ground with you even when he doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t agree with you reveals a lot about how youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d get along if your earnings were linked.