Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Could you date someone who makes significantly less than you?

428981_10150511290730248_507680247_9376684_690475059_nRecently I read a blog post by a woman who refuses to date men who make less than six figures. “I am all about living life, and not about working to pay for it,” she wrote. At first, I was outraged because shouldn’t we all be striving for our own personal financial independence? It’s the main goal of this blog! But now that it’s been a couple of weeks since I first read that post, I have to admit that I kind of get where she’s coming from.

I’ve never specifically laid out financial requirements for a potential partner, but I’ve always gravitated towards men who were ambitious and financially capable of supporting a certain lifestyle. I’m not talking about flying first class or living in penthouse apartments – I just mean being able to enjoy similar interests, vacation styles, comfortable apartments, and early retirement goals.

And in my previous relationships where there was a financial disparity? It sometimes caused friction. So seeking a partner who made a good income just seemed like an easy solution, and I felt like it would be less complicated. Because the number one thing couples fight about is money, right?

Related: Would you ever date someone who had debt?

Yet, if I had made that a hard rule – if I refused to ever consider anyone who didn’t make at least an equivalent salary to mine – I would have missed out on so many amazing adventures and happy memories in my life. And as for some of the relationships I’ve had with men who made good incomes? They ended up being incredibly messy. Because while it’s true that our finances and lifestyle compatibility were less complicated, I wasn’t completely focused on the bigger picture. Did I love them – or did I just love the idea of them?

As my last relationship was winding down, I learned a lot about myself and what I was looking for. I learned to look outside the box of what I would normally want in a partner – because the path of unsuccessful relationships I was on was not very fun. I needed to stop checking boxes, and I needed to trust my instincts instead. As for financial compatibility, I decided that all I needed was someone who was good with the money that they earned. It didn’t matter what they did for a living. And whether their salary was $40,000 or $400,000 – as long as they were happy and living within their means, what more could I ask for?

Related: Why I can’t afford to start dating

I consider myself extremely lucky to have met my boyfriend. While he cares (a lot) less than me about his finances, he has a stable job, zero debt, savings in the bank, and is really good at pretending to be interested in the latest evolution of my budgeting spreadsheet. :) He is ambitious, yet realistic in the fact that he took a significant pay cut to take a job that would make him happier in the long run – and I think that says a lot about someone to know exactly what they want.

Even though I understand where that woman in the original article may have been coming for, I don’t support her reliance on someone else to create the life she wants for herself. Because you certainly don’t need a 6-figure salary to live a good life. I’ve spent the last 10 years trying to earn my financial independence. I’m not super smart or well educated or even a very good writer.  But I’ve worked hard for the life that I have.

When I was 28, I bought my first home. I saved for the down payment for years, and in the 5 years I owned that home, I paid my mortgage payments on time, traveled to over 20 different countries, and stayed on track with my retirement savings. Maybe this is a super cliche way of thinking, but my financial accomplishments felt like even bigger accomplishments because I was doing everything as a single female.

I don’t really understand why anyone would look for a relationship that includes being financially supported. Sure I understand if you fall for someone who just happens to be wealthy (and also provides you with all of the other things you need in a healthy relationship), but to specifically seek it out seems wrong. I guess I just don’t get why you wouldn’t to experience that amazing feeling of making it on your own. :)

Would you date someone who made significantly less than you?
Would you ever refuse to date someone because they didn’t make enough money?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. I have. And I probably would again. My current partner earns almost double what I do. But it wasn’t always that way. His career has grown over the course of our 7-year relationships. And mine will, too. I’m a recent career changer, so I’m at the bottom of what I could be earning in my new field. I guess what I’m trying to say is incomes and earning ability will fluctuate throughout our lives. So it’s limiting to say I wouldn’t date someone who doesn’t earn X.

  2. Jennifer says:

    That article made me feel so gross to read it. I didn’t get the impression she wanted someone who had their shit together, to match her own success, which I would totally understand, but she just said “I’ll never make a lot, but I want nice things so I any man I’m with should pay for it.” Which… just.. ugh. Lots of people spend a time in single-income households, or have largely disparate incomes, but that shouldn’t be an expectation. Or, I should say, I would never have that expectation.

    I make a good income, and it happens to be dwarfed my by partner’s, but the important things are that we’re similarly frugal, have a compatible approach to savings, and both like vacations and good scotch.

    • Charlie says:

      She didn’t seem to say that in her post(unless modified at some point). :)
      Maybe we need to step back and stop being so cynical for a moment. As long as it’s not against the law or tremendously immoral, everyone has the right to pursue what he/she wants. Perosnally I wouldn’t want people to possess that kind of dating requiremnt, but it is fine if they do. Lots of these rich old guys(uhm, Trump?) have young beautiful wives. Has money played a role in these women’s decisions to marry them? Definitely. Does that make these women horrible people? I don’t think so. Actually I bet a lot of rich guys prefer that kind of women.
      Actually I appreciate her honesty in expressing her opinion in the blog – she probalby knew even before publishing that she’d face a lot of criticism. To many of us, she may sound selfish and immature to only date people above certain income level, but who have’t been selfish and immature at some point in their lives?

  3. Kimberly says:

    My husband will never make anywhere near what I do, but when we began our lives together, we were both students (and broke). But he is dedicated to what he does and that is good enough for me.

  4. csdx says:

    I’d say the issue of making similar amounts of money isn’t the actual issue, but rather it’s conflating two underlying issues: how much each is contributing to the relationship, and how much on the same page you both are.
    Money is often used as a proxy for relationship contribution, but certainly there are other ways to contribute to the relationship. The canonical example being staying home to raise children for married couples. I think in dating money is often used as a proxy to make a judgement about how interested each of you are about contributing to each other.
    Also you need to be in agreement with each other about what’s important, and this usually manifests as where you spend your collective money (e.g. what the budget says). Now the more you make the easier it is to have different values because you have a big enough budget to accommodate everything. If you don’t have enough money then it becomes a real strain unless the couple has goals that are exactly aligned. I think like tends to attract like in this situation as people at similar incomes are more likely to have similar values, and are used to similar standards of living rather than two people with disparate incomes.

  5. Anon says:

    I’ve read waaay too many articles and seen how my parent’s single income earner marriage has been. I simply wouldn’t be comfortable depending exclusively on someone else’s income. For me at least, it’s very disabling. Limiting. I promised myself from a young age that I would never rely solely on another person for income if I had the means and ability to generate my own. I also don’t count on my parents havig a dime to pass on to me, which suits me fine. Working on generating additional passive income is part of that strategy of independence. Financial freedom.

    As for dating someone of significant income disparity? Not a dealbreaker as long as they held some of the same values in terms of frugality and knowing they needed to work hard to build the life they want – together as a couple and as an individual – and not rely upon me to do it for them.

    Met my current boyfriend when he was unemployed for six months by choice. Goose eggs at that point, haha. He’d been working about 5-6 years prior, skipped college, saved up all that money to take a brief vacation before heading back to work. He now owns a couple of rental properties which he renovated in the past year.

    It’s not necessarily the income, but rather, the drive for financial independence and living well while living frugally. The attitude toward money.

    There are plenty of high income generators who are in more debt and more broke than a vase on a concrete floor.

  6. Catwoman73 says:

    My husband makes a little more than half of my salary, and he made even less when we met. It doesn’t trouble me at all. Never did. What matters more is that we are on the same page in terms of lifestyle, spending habits, and goals for the future. And we are, so there’s no problem. I have the greatest hubby in the world- he’s a wonderful, supportive partner, and an amazing father. Can you imagine if I hadn’t given him a chance, just because he didn’t make much money? I wouldn’t have the amazing life that I have now! Salary isn’t everything. To me, it’s rather inconsequential.

  7. NZ Muse says:

    I have to say, if I were back in the dating pool, income would be a significant factor for me, as part of overall ‘having your shit together’ and mutual financial compatibility.

    I don’t need someone to support me but I certainly want an equal partner.

    • NZ Muse says:

      And to build on that thought, if they didn’t make much, they would need to be proportionally nonmaterialistic/frugal, and have every other aspect of their finances in tip top shape. Unfortunately I think that’s a rare combo.

  8. Liz says:

    If this woman is relying on her youthful looks and body to snag these 6-figure men, what will she do when that fades? Furthermore, I would think a smart 6-figure man would realize his wallet can’t really afford little Miss Prada-Gucci!!! A smart woman values herself more than that;)

    P.S. Most of the name brand pricey stuff I have seen to be poor quality upon close inspection, so it’s an even dumber purchase!

  9. I guess what is the definition of significantly less.

    Without answering that I could date someone who earned less income than me but then it comes down to spending habits and values. I’m a fairly frugal person and I’d probably be scared away if the individual was making significantly less than me, and spending extravagantly and swimming in debt.

  10. Erica says:

    I’m currently dating a guy who is off work due to an injury. It’s stressful at times but we make it work. He obviously makes very little money. Had I passed him up on that I would have missed out on a great relationship. He spoils me in ways money can’t and that’s what matters to me.

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