*This post was inspired by an interview I heard on CBC’s Metro Morning, with New School of Finance Founder, Shannon Lee Simmons. Below is New School of Finance’s post from their Facebook Page:
“How long do you wait to talk about money with your romantic partner? Check out what our founder, Shannon, has to say about disclosing your finances (should it be on your Tinder profile?).
This summer, two companies – Discover Financial and Match Media Group (the parent company of Tinder) – collaborated on an independent survey of online daters to better understand the relationship between finance and romance. It turns out a good credit score might be more important than other valued qualities, such as sense of humour, attractiveness, ambition or courage. While this might seem surprising, “these amorous respondents effectively put a credit score 18 points ahead of cute” (1).
An Ode to Creating Openness
Like Shannon, personally, I love that these types of conversations are coming to the forefront not only on the dating scene, but our lives in general. It’s definitely not the romantic side of me that appreciates this, but the practical one – the same side that values and practices financial responsibility.
That’s the most important part about all of this: Real Conversations (the capital C there isn’t just for show).
I work for an organization that focuses on improving the world of work, one conversation at a time. Not only is it something that’s important in my professional life, but I see a great deal of value in my personal life and how it actually extends to every facet of our lives. Now, I’m not suggesting deep conversations don’t occur or that we need to be overly confessional bearing it all, but imagine if all our interactions started with open dialogue, genuine connection, and meaningful discussions were the norm.
What if people (specifically colleagues, with whom these types of conversations can sometimes be less common) connected in a way where they were able to build trust, leading to more open dialogue. Imagine if this was also the basis for most relationships, romantic or otherwise… and then, when this was the reality in which we lived, how easy it might be to talk about our finances.
I actually think that openly talking about finances and discussing the importance of financial responsibility is a pretty romantic thing to do in a relationship. Having real conversations, specifically about our finances, is crucial not only to achieving our (collective) goal of homeownership, for example, but many of the other financial goals associated with purchasing a home. You’re committed to building a life together, you want to work towards the same goals and expectations and best of all, having these discussions early and often, will likely help eliminate some of the misunderstandings that might arise down the road.
Airing Our Dirty Laundry or Encouraging Deeper Connections?
Consider this – nowadays, people share all sorts of information on their online dating profiles, and while I don’t necessarily think online daters need to share their credit score with potential suitors, an argument can be made for being open and honest about finances and many other so called ‘difficult’ topics right from the start.
As you know, from one of our previous posts, while your credit score isn’t the sole factor in how financially responsible you are, it’s an important one. Knowing your credit score sets you ahead. Talking about money set your ahead. Having a plan definitely sets you ahead. And better still, taking action means you will reach your goal of homeownership that much more quickly.
Putting It Into Practice
When my boyfriend (as we’re not yet married, we refer to our relationship affectionately as a ‘long term committed relationship’ or LTCR for short!) and I decided to move in together, before we even committed to the living together part, we committed to several real conversations and even went to visit a financial planner (if you live in Toronto, I highly recommend working with New School of Finance, they’re incredible!).
While we were already having open and truthful dialogues about finances, our goals (including our timeline for buying a house and what kind of payments we wanted to make to our downpayment fund) and many other future plans, we wanted to create even more fluidity and ease around what can sometimes be challenging and sticky – our culture at times encourages a mentality that anything to do with money is awkward and difficult and should be avoided – and we didn’t want that to be the case for us.
The truth is, in talking about it and planning even more than we already do, we were reminded that finances can actually be fun(!). Before I lose you, hear me out. It allowed us to further deepen our relationship and ensured we were aligned moving forward. We could track our spending and notice trends. We created a reality where we could drop money on a trip, a concert, dinner or whatever else and know it was ok because we were spending within our means and we had a plan (and one that we were sticking to!). Because of this openness and established common ground (and healthy joint spending and saving accounts), we can talk about money with little to no emotional baggage and overall, have few stresses around financial conversations.
Lesson Learned: Create a ‘New Normal’ Around Money Talk
So, whether you’re in a relationship or not (and if you haven’t already), I recommend that you start having these types of honest and open conversations. Talk about your finances and other important topics, and specifically if you’re here reading our posts on Millennial Homeowner, your goals of homeownership. And while anything difficult always takes time and the road can seem bumpy, the impact will be rewarding. You’ll likely surprise yourself with how much you learn from others in your network, and how significantly your relationships and general feelings about finances improve. Commit to starting these discussions now.
While scary and sometimes messy, real conversations, especially financial ones, are an important part of our interactions. And you never know, maybe you’ll even meet that cute date at a financial singles mixer somewhere down the line…
*Read more about the survey referenced above, by viewing the press release here.