Money and relationships.
Unfortunately, one tends to affect the other: a relationship can change your financial situation, and the money in your bank account can change your relationship.
But this shouldn’t be a surprise: money is just another factor into all of our decisions, and it pays to go into a long-term relationship with some idea of how you want to live financially.
So first, let’s look at what you should know about money in relationships going in…
The Two Big Factors: What you earn and what you spend
Most people will say that when it comes to love, money is no object.
And that’s great. As long as it’s true for you.
If, on the other hand, you want a very specific lifestyle, or you want to save to buy a house, or you just want to live frugally, how your partner approaches money will matter (or else expect many arguments to follow later on!).
So rule no. 1 is to decide on the lifestyle you want.
If you have very specific savings plans for the next decade, is he on board with them? Or does he throw caution to the wind and spend every penny of his paycheck each month? Is he contributing to your shared goals, or making them harder? Would you rather spend money on a 6 month trip to Southeast Asia, or invest in future assets for a family?
These are important questions, and it’s something you’ll want at least get an idea of in the first few months of dating to see how the guy you’re with approaches money at this stage of his life.
So when asking, “Does money matter in a relationship?”, the simple answer is: it depends on your current life goals.
Just make sure that no matter what, you have a system in place so that you can cover your costs and reach any long-term saving/spending plans you may have in the future. Planning for this yourself now will save a lot of relationship stress later down the road.
Another big factor in relationships isn’t just how much money you make and save, but how generous you are with it.
For example, there’s the age old dilemma: Who pays on a date? How much should you spend on your partner?
If a couple don’t see eye-to-eye on this, it can easily cause resentment to build. Maybe you pay for him freely, regularly purchasing small gifts and meals, but he won’t even buy you popcorn at the movies.
The problem is, this eventually becomes unsustainable. Two people don’t need to have the exact same rules with money, but not should you feel like it’s a one-sided affair, where one person is much more generous while the other squirrels away every penny like it’s hibernation season.
So decide early on: what level of generosity am I comfortable with? Or, if you’re going to choose someone who isn’t as generous as you, don’t live in hope that it will change. Make your choice now and be comfortable with it – maybe he’s not generous financially but he’s generous in other ways. That’s ok. But know who he is going in.
Ultimately, no-one can tell you what the financial split should be in your relationship, but you should hopefully share similar values in terms of desired lifestyle with your partner, and certainly not hinder each other’s future monetary goals.
Choices around money in relationships are deeply personal – but at the very least, make sure you’re both prudent, thoughtful, and willing to share when necessary, or else things can get much more difficult in tough times.