Have you met a really nice guy? Smart, handsome, and adventurous. Congratulations! But before you start naming your children and picking out china, please be sure that this potential Mr. Right is also Mr. (financially) Responsible.
How a man handles his current financial obligations and responsibilities is a key indicator of how he will handle money once you decide to commit and/or marry this man. You do not have to wait that long, though.
You can gauge your new beau’s current level of financial responsibility by looking out and listening out for a couple of things right now.
1. Pay Attention to His Money Moves While Dating
Every man has a money philosophy about dating. It is your responsibility to unearth his. Does he prefer going ‘dutch’? Does he have a more traditional view of dating and insists that you keep your hand out of your purse? Is he okay with you footing the majority of the expenses most of the time?
How does he date? Does he like to ‘do it up big’? When I say big, I am speaking in terms of cost. Does he equate expensive, over-the-top restaurants, vacations, and gifts with having a good time? On the other hand, does he consistently complain about the price of everything? Will he only take you to places for which he has Groupons, LivingSocial vouchers, coupons, or where he “gets a hook-up?”
Be very clear with yourself about what you want in a mate with respect to money management, because with few exceptions, his money style in dating will more than likely translate into marriage, barring any big changes in his financial realities.
2. Pay Attention to the Financial Role that He Plays In His Family
Observe the role he plays in his family with respect to borrowing and lending. Is he the family ATM? Does he suffer from “success guilt” where he tries not to forget where he is from and often bails out friends, family members, and acquaintances with financial favors?
On the other hand, is he always looking to borrow money from his mother, cousin, or sibling? Has he started asking you about your income or casually asked you to pick him up a few things from the store without providing any money or repaying you?
These financial roles, whether chronic borrower or financial enabler, are dangerous for you and your money. A chronic borrower and financial enabler are incapable of drawing healthy fiscal boundaries with friends and loved ones. By joining forces with a man like this, you may be directly or indirectly subsidizing the lifestyles of others and may grow to resent it. Reimaging these roles is very hard to do and is likely to be a key point of contention if you decide to take your dating to the next level.
3. Pay attention to How He Manages His Current Financial Obligations
My business coach likes to tell me, “how you do one thing is how you everything.” While there may be exceptions to this heuristic, there is definitely some truth to it, especially when it comes to financial responsibility. How your potential Mr. Right takes care of his money matters now gives you some insight into how he will handle your household matters in the future.
- If he has student loans, how does he plan to tackle repayment?
- If he is working, how is he budgeting, planning for retirement, saving for fun and emergencies?
- If he is not working, what is his plan of action?
- Does he have interest in supplement income? Property ownership, entrepreneurship?
If he does not have clear answers to these types of questions, take note.
“Will I ever find my true love?” This was the question I hounded my mother and friends with during most of my late-twenties. I spent a lot my dating years wishing they could be over. But now that I am married, I have to say that I am grateful for having dated men with various personal and financial values, goals, and worldviews. The process strengthened my financial radar and self-awareness, allowed me to observe and reflect so when Mr. Right and Mr. Responsible came along, I knew I could say, “ I do.”
Frugalistas: Is your Mr. Right turning out to be Mr. Responsible? How do you know?