Love & Money: How To Talk About Money With Your Partner

Money can be a sensitive topic. Yet, having frank conversations about how we manage our finances is important if we want a healthy relationship. After all, 93% of Singaporeans think good money management is an attractive quality in a potential partner!

This finding comes from Syfe’s Love Meets Money survey, where we teamed up with dating application Coffee Meets Bagel to find out what Singaporeans think about money matters when dating.

“Money and relationships are two very important topics in an individual’s life and as we support Singaporeans on their investment journeys, it was interesting to discover how other aspects of life would be enriched by good money management and investing habits, especially in the area of dating,” said Sebastian Sieber, Chief Marketing Officer, Syfe.

So, how do you bring up the subject of money with your date or potential partner?

In an interview with TODAY, Syfe’s director of investment research Grace Cheng, said, “Personally, I like to think of wealth more holistically, going beyond topics like salary and cash in a bank account, but rather our attitudes towards wealth building and how we see wealth helping us to lead a more fulfilling life.”

For couples considering marriage, some topics to discuss include each other’s saving and investing habits, spending patterns, and attitude towards sharing finances.

Here are more tips to have the money talk, no matter which stage of a relationship you’re in.

Navigating the first date  

Oftentimes, the biggest question during the first date is, who pays? 

From our findings, 40% of men and women support the view that men should foot the bill. 

While the cultural assumption that men should pay on the first date is still quite prevalent, it seems that many people also prefer to split the bill. One-third of survey participants believe they should go dutch on the first date.

So, how do you figure out what to expect? One way is to just ask ahead of time before the date. For instance, you could say:

“Hey, can’t wait to meet up this weekend! Just checking in, do you usually like to split the bill, or have us take turns? If you don’t mind, I’m happy for dinner to be my treat!”

This shows you’re willing to pay, but that you’re also respectful of your date’s preference. Handling this topic earlier on can minimise the awkwardness of deciding who pays when the check comes.

Have open conversations early

When it comes to having the money talk with your partner, don’t do it on the first date, but don’t avoid it forever either.

Our survey found that more than 2 in 3 Singaporeans believe the topic of money can be sensitive and a turnoff during the first date. The most appropriate time is either the period before defining the relationship (32%) or when couples get into a serious relationship (31%). 

It’s important to be transparent with your partner and to set expectations during a relationship. This includes having open conversations about all things money-related. If the relationship is relatively new, you might ease into the conversation by sharing your goals and dreams for the future. 

For example, you could talk about your plans to take a sabbatical from work or how you imagine your dream retirement to look like. Your partner is likely to share theirs in return. You can get a sense of how they manage their money, their financial goals, spending, and saving habits from such conversations. 

The “salary” talk

So, things are getting serious. Before you think about taking the next step, you want to find out how much your partner makes. 

Our survey revealed that 44% of Singaporeans believe it’s appropriate to ask for the other party’s salary before becoming a couple, and 1 in 3 people would share how much they make within five dates. 

If you feel uncomfortable asking how much your partner makes, one tip is to reframe it as a discussion about shared values or visions for a life together. You might start the conversation with something like: 

“I think things between us have been progressing well and I’m looking forward to building my life with you. Perhaps we can start planning ahead and see if we share similar visions for our life together? And can we support that goal based on our current earnings?”

Grounding the discussion by talking about your hopes for the future can be a great way to open up to your significant other.

The bottom line

Whether you’re seeing someone new or in a committed relationship, the key to having open conversations about finances is by treating money as a natural part of the relationship. Take it easy and talk through how you feel about money management, be understanding of each other’s expectations and goals, and be considerate.

Being vulnerable with each other about money is also a form of intimacy, and that’s what makes planning your future together memorable. 

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