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How and When to Have ‘The Money Talk’

If you are seriously dating, you want to make sure your significant other approaches money in a way you can live with and appreciate.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24, ESV).

Money impacts almost every decision we make: Where you eat lunch. What you eat for lunch. Where you choose to live. How you choose to live. What gifts you give. How you date. What you consider a “real” date. And possibly whom you consider to date.

Money doesn’t sound very romantic, so it is often the last thing couples think about — or talk about — when they are dating. Sweethearts can talk for hours, hungry to know more about each other, but money is rarely a part of that exciting exploration.

Would that remain true if couples realized every day of their lives involves a decision to be made about money? Coffee at home or latte on the go, Nordstrom shoes or Payless, tickets to the concert or just the CD, lunch out or brown bag, gym membership or jog in the park.

Thinking about money every day doesn’t mean you are devoted to money or money is your master, because most days require money decisions even for people who clearly understand whom they serve. Jesus must have known money would greatly affect us and our relationships, since He talks more often about money than any other topic in the New Testament.

Once you realize how daily money is, you begin noticing how people around you approach money. Everyone is born with a God-given perspective toward money. Yours may be the same or might be very different from your siblings, your roommate, your parents or your potential mate.

If money affects us and our relationships every single day, how and when do you begin a conversation about money in your dating relationship to better understand your potential mate’s unique money perspective?

A first date will quickly become a last date if you hear “so how much debt do you have?” or “how much did you pay for that watch?” or even “how much money do bloggers make anyway?” Money questions are so important, but they can quench the spark if you’re not sure when and how to ask them.

When to Have ‘The Talk’

It is time to talk money with your honey, if you are having any of the following thoughts:

  • I wonder where all this money is coming from? 
  • Their spending habits annoy me. 
  • They aren’t open to talking about money. 
  • When is this person ever going to lighten up about money? 
  • I think I may want to marry this person. 
  • I wonder if saving is important to them at all. 
  • Sure seems like they approach money the same way I do. 
  • Do they have plans to settle down and get a secure job? 
  • Is money even on their radar?

If you’re thinking any of those thoughts, it’s not too soon to talk about money. If you are serious about spending every day of forever with this person, you want to make sure Mister or Miss So-Far-So-Perfect approaches money in a way you can live with and appreciate.

Most couples are attracted to their money opposite. She loves the fancy dinners and being showered with gifts she’d never buy for herself. He admires her frugal sensibility and her plan for the future while he generally flies by the seat of his pants. Having a mate with an opposite personality can provide a wholeness and balance to decisions. Opposite money viewpoints can be the same if their opposite isn’t so opposite it makes you crazy.

More than half of all married couples admit they never talked about money before they tied the knot. Most say they didn’t want to scare the other away or didn’t really know what to ask.

With 70 percent of divorces citing “money” as the No. 1 reason they called it quits, we strongly believe some money compatibility questions are a good idea.

How to Have ‘The Talk’

Here are some low-pressure, non-judgmental questions to jumpstart your money talk:

  • How do you like to celebrate birthdays?
  • How many times a week do you typically dine out?
  • Would you consider yourself simple or extravagant?
  • What stresses you out when it comes to money?
  • What do you think about budgets?
  • Do you give to charitable organizations?
  • Do you want to rent or own your home?
  • Did your mom stay at home or work outside of the home?
  • Do you think dating couples should split the check?
  • Do you try to pay debt off early?

You may not encounter any huge surprises, but be honest with yourself and your future as you explore your money compatibility.

If your potential mate is not willing to discuss money at all, we recommend you run — run as fast as you can away from that relationship. Too many marriages fail because of money. Don’t start or continue a long-term commitment with someone unwilling to address a topic that will affect every single day of the rest of your life.

If you have been wondering where all the money is coming from or you fear they are not serious about ever getting a real job, or any of the items from the “when” list, talk about it. Respect this person who lights you up inside, honor your relationship, and use the questions in the “how” section to have “the money talk.” It will be the most profitable investment either of you ever make.

To learn more about your Money Personalities, take the free, scientific quiz at

Copyright 2013 Scott and Bethany Palmer. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Scott and Bethany Palmer
Scott and Bethany Palmer

Scott and Bethany Palmer, The Money Couple®, are love and money experts, authors and speakers. They have 20 years of financial-advising experience, and together they help couples solve money issues in their relationships. They wrote “The 5 Money Personalities: Speaking the Same Love and Money Language.” To learn more about your “Money Personality,” take the free online assessment.

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