This one isn’t for the gold diggers. It’s a sticky subject, and you’ve already heard it a million times – talking about money is tacky, especially on a first date. But let’s not forget that meaningful relationships are built on shared values, and how we think and talk about money can tell us a lot about those values.
Especially as South Asians, we have a lot of cultural and gendered stigma around talking about money. If you’re a woman, usually the man of the household is expected to be the breadwinner and the women are expected to be “taken care of.” So bringing it up early on can signal that you are someone who rejects those norms and prioritizes your (& your potential partner’s) financial independence – which let’s be real, there’s nothing wrong with this! So let’s talk about it.
You obviously don’t need to know your partner’s salary by the time you go on a first date with them, but it doesn’t hurt to open up the money conversations along the way (especially if everything else is going well!).
1. First Date
Ah, the age old question…who pays for the first date?
While you don’t want to necessarily kill the mood before even meeting them, casually bringing it up beforehand is a powerful way to open up the money conversation. If you ask someone out, maybe add a “my treat!” at the end of your request. You could also text something like “Really excited for dinner! Just wondering because I hate the check dance at the end haha – should we split it?”
LADIES, always offer to split the check on the first date! Even if your request is declined, you are letting the other person know that you aren’t just mooching off of them, and it’s pretty much common courtesy these days. And remember, it just gets easier from here! If you can treat money as a natural part of the conversation early on, it’s less likely to become awkward later.
2. Talking Stage
Okay, you two clearly somewhat like each other at this point if you’re still talking regularly. As you begin to learn more about each other, normalize money talk by sliding money-focused topics/questions into conversation casually. Some ideas:
- Are you saving up for anything fun?
- I’m looking to switch to a new budgeting app, what do you use?
- How much should we be budgeting for this weekend trip we want to take?
- Growing up, my family rarely spent on trips or eating out, but we always splurged on gifts to bring back to India. How about your family?
These conversations should be less about gauging financial status and more about understanding your potential partner’s financial journey and priorities – it’ll give you a better insight into who they are and relay it back to your compatibility too.
3. Officially Dating
Okay, now you’ve clearly, “officially” established that you are boyfriend & girlfriend, or girlfriend & girlfriend, or boyfriend & boyfriend, whatever. Proactively open up the conversation before you have to so you can frame it positively. For example, you could say something like “Sooo apparently, money is one of the top reasons couples fight. I don’t want that to be us – I want us to share our financial journeys and goals with each other. What do you think?”
If that conversation goes well, you could schedule a monthly or quarterly money check in to hold yourselves accountable to having this conversation regularly and make sure that your financial goals as a couple are also aligning. Think about all the trips you may want to take together or something you may want to buy together – it costs money! The sooner you establish where you guys stand financially, the easier it will be to make decisions together about how and where you want to spend your money. Ultimately, where you spend your money with each other also shapes your experiences as a couple.
While talking about money may always feel a little bit awkward (given current social norms), it’s a vital part of a healthy relationship. In fact, a 2017 survey by TD Bank found that happy couples discuss finances once a month, compared to 68% of unhappy couples. So let’s start talking about money, people! You don’t have anything to lose.
This article was written in collaboration with Boss Betis. On Instagram, @bossbetis is a community-based platform dedicated to exploring the intersections of identity, personal finance, and social justice for South Asian women. 🙌🏽