If you’re dating, I am going to assume that you haven’t totally mixed finances yet. My rules don’t necessarily apply only to people dating, but I can say it applies to people like me who are that crazy personal finance addict in the relationship — whereas the other person says “eww” everytime you say the words “personal finance.”
Here is a simple guideline on how to keep your dating life in balance when you care about money and personal finance way more than the other person.
Do tell them about your goals
I’m not talking about the monetary goals that you have. Don’t talk numbers — talk about things, ambitions, and your plans. For example, I have talked to my partner(-in-crime) about an international family trip that I am trying to pay out of pocket for my portion, rather than relying on parental welfare. He also knows about me wanting to save $10,000 to give to my parents after I graduate, wanting to build up an emergency fund, and trying to lose weight (one of many reasons I try not to eat fast-food breakfast sandwiches).
You could always introduce them to personal finance with the “do you have any goals” or “is there anywhere you’d want to vacation together” if you want to be #couplegoals and make financially responsible vacation plans. Using this tactic, I managed to persuade my boyfriend we could each save $1,500 to go to New York this summer! (Goal complete)
Don’t expect anything from them
This rule applies strictly to their money. Don’t expect them to save seventy-five percent of their income because you do and think they should too. It is a good habit, but it’s also their money, and it’s up to them to spend or to save it. Always think about it from their perspective — and not their perspective with your opinion. Dating means you aren’t only looking out for their financial health, but also their emotional health. You’re the person they turn to for support and (solicited) advice, not judgment and nagging. My boyfriend had to call me out on the nagging for me to learn my lesson here, and it is one of the things zealous personal finance followers can be guilty of.
Do personal finance exercises, but without the personal finance lingo
A little thing that my partner and I like to do is go on brunch dates once a weekend (and whether the food is strictly brunch-related is optional). While we’re sitting down together, I like to plan out our week by doing a “money date.” As a young twenty-something couple, we don’t have too many planned commitments when we’re rolling into a week. There will, of course, be a day or two out there that people ask if we want to go to the bar, or a movie will come out that we want to see, so one of the few things we have control over is our food.
Over brunch, I’ll ask him how much he thinks we spent on food this week, I’ll give my guess, and we’ll add up our “as a couple” total food spending for that week. The first time we did this, our total came to over $200, and his immediate response was “that’s too much” without me even voicing my frugal opinion. I don’t need to say the words “expenses” and “frugality” for my partner to get an idea of where I’m going with our conversations, and you don’t need to, either.
Don’t make it all about the money
You’re dating. You’re in a relationship dedicated to spending time together and enjoying it. If you obsess over saving the most that you can possible, you’ll end up alienating your partner, because they’re going to want to talk about anything other than money and investing. I personally have the pleasure of having three obsessions at any given time for my partner to hear about over our $2 lentil soup dinner.
If don’t want to eat out because you want to save money, feel free to tell them that — but also be prepared with alternatives. One of my go-to options is for us to just eat different meals that night. My partner will bring whatever he wanted to eat home, I’ll make a mean bowl of cereal, and we can still have our time together while I saved money.
I personally have a strong aversion to all things in the kitchen, including baking, but that doesn’t mean I’m a total loss. My boyfriend absolutely loves cooking, so I’ll help with grocery-shopping and dish-washing while he does the brunt of the cooking. It makes for a wonderful night together, wherein we don’t have to worry about the utter gross cuddles that we do while cooking and eating because we’re in the privacy of our own apartment.
That concludes a simple guide on how not to spend $20 on dinner at Olive Garden (and not be able to sit on the same side of the table without pants on). Having informal rules about where and when you go out as a couple can be fun, too! My boyfriend and I have a few that we generally came to practice throughout our time together:
As a couple, we can go to McDonald’s once a day (this includes vacations too)
Only one “splurge” (for us this number is $25/person) restaurant per week
Remind each other to turn lights off in the house (or on the cars) when not in use
Equally share the grocery and restaurant expenses (we like to pick up every other tab rather than splitting checks, as it feels more intimate when you can say “one check”)
Don’t eat at any places that we could eat at in our Missouri college town (this applies especially to us for the next three months while we’re in Ohio for my internship)
Go on at least one free date a week (botanical gardens, libraries, and neighborhood walks are some of our go-tos)
Never urge the other person to make an impulse buy (every time I look at touch a soft throw pillow, my boyfriend has to physically pull me away from the home decor section until it is out of view), but know when they’ve obsessed over it long enough to buy it (my partner bought $350 noise-cancelling headphones and I didn’t even blink, I’d seen it coming for a while)
A.G.Z. is a Generation Z (think Post-Millennial) engineering student who is somewhat obsessed with personal finance, love stories, and good espresso. You can find some of her writing at www.generation-zer.com.
Image via Unsplash