I’m a middle-aged woman and am established in my career. I own my own home, have relatively good credit, and am financially secure and independent. I am in no way looking for a man to take care of me financially, but I would like to meet someone who is stable and self-reliant as well. I am wondering if this is asking too much, considering these economic times. I am also wondering how to go about discovering whether or not someone is financially stable without crossing any boundaries. Is it my business to ask about finances in the early stages of dating?
Statistically, more than half of all Americans are in some sort of financial debt, whether it be for a car loan, student loans, a home loan, or credit card debt. These kinds of debt obviously have a wide range of specific dollar amounts. I think it’s safe to assume that the average person you meet while dating has some sort of debt owed to a bank somewhere for something. Even those of us with good credit may not have a zero balance on all of our accounts. According to a survey conducted by ING Direct, 93% of Americans with children under 18 say that earning enough money just to cover monthly bills alone is an important goal for the new year.
With that said, I don’t think that you are being unreasonable in looking for someone who brings their fair share to the table. During these economic times, people have learned to cut back on spending, work on paying off balances, and put any extra money into savings or retirement accounts. A frugal person will adjust the way he lives his life according to his means, while someone without much financial knowledge will be more likely to incur more debt as times get tougher. Being financially secure is also relative to your lifestyle. If a person makes less money, but lives within their means, they can still be considered stable, which is why it’s important to pay attention to your dates spending habits.
While it’s normal to use a credit card to pay for an evening out at a restaurant, it’s not a good idea to use credit to pay for necessities like groceries and bills. If your date is constantly throwing everyday purchases onto his credit card, this can be a sign that he is in debt. Also, a lot of people who are deeply in debt tend to avoid it, pretend that the situation isn’t as bad as it is, or have feelings of shame and embarrassment about being in such debt. These people can sometimes appear to be “big spenders” so as to convey the false message that they have a handle on their finances. Tread very carefully and pay close attention.
Normal conversation during the first date or two will include the topic of what the two of you do for a living, and common knowledge tells us that certain jobs provide certain incomes. It is not any of your business to ask your date about his salary or credit score, but in most cases, using your better judgment will give you an idea depending on his career field. If your date’s profession requires an advanced college education, it’s likely that he may still be paying off student loans, but also likely that he makes a good living. Or maybe he’s currently in school to further his education and reach a higher career goal, which may put him in temporary debt, but shows he is ambitious and determined to not have long-term debt.
It’s also important to consider whether or not he has younger children from a previous marriage or relationship. You will know after the first few dates whether or not this is the case, and one can safely assume that if he’s a good dad with joint custody, a percentage of his income is going to child support. There are also instances where your date may be paying alimony, but this isn’t always obvious, and it’s not your business to ask about until your relationship progresses to a more serious level.
My advice to anyone who is in a serious amount of debt would be to carefully evaluate your finances before making the decision to find love. A relationship is about merging worlds and offering to others what we expect to receive.