A few days ago, I read a pretty good post by Nelson over at Financial Uproar. It was about dating. Specifically what somebody is generally looks for in a partner. As someone who has been writing about finance for over 6 years, and someone who is single (yes, the BF and I have recently broken up), I found that the post really hit home.
It reminded me of a post I wrote not too long ago, asking readers if they’d ever date someone who had debt. The responses were pretty varied. Me personally, I would date someone with a low to moderate amount of debt, as long as they had a reasonable plan in place to get themselves out of debt. That being said, I would find it hard to date someone who perpetually carried a balance on their credit cards, and didn’t think it was a problem.
In Nelson’s post, he talks about how most personal finance bloggers are looking for a financial equal – someone who knows how to budget, knows how to spend less than they earn, and understands the importance of saving for retirement. All admirable qualities, and I’ll admit that I’m looking for exactly those same things too. I think that it’s natural when dating that people are drawn to others with the same sort of goals and lifestyle.
But the thing is, outside of the personal finance blogging world, there are very few people who care as much about money and financial independence than me. There are only a few friends in my life that I can discuss money issues with, that’s why I started this blog. And there was definitely a time in my life (not so long ago) where I had a ton of debt, and didn’t give a crap about my finances. So how can I be so willing to dismiss someone because of something that I once struggled through myself?
It’s something to think about. After dating my previous boyfriend, I told myself I would never date a student again. I was tired of waiting for someone to “catch up” to me, and was looking forward to a comfortable lifestyle. But when I met Nic (he was a masters student), I decided to go for it. And even though we are no longer together, I consider him to be one of the most important people I’ve ever met. And I’m pretty sure I was a good financial influence on him too. :)
So maybe dating someone with debt wouldn’t be so bad. As long as they had the right attitude about it.
As for returning to single life, I’ll admit that not much will change in terms of my finances. I still have the same goals of traveling, paying down my mortgage, and saving for retirement. And for some reason, being single makes me even more motivated to focus in on my goals. I’m also going to be bringing back a more personal approach to this blog, because I really missed using this place as an outlet for my everyday thoughts on money. :)
I’m talking about a lot of debt. Like, $40,000+ in student loans, or thousands of dollars in credit card debt – without a solid plan to get themselves out. Or what if you’re a saver, and they’re a spender?
It’s obvious that the financial habits of your significant other can play a huge role in defining what kind of life you would have with that person – both short-term and long-term. But are poor financials a big enough reason to eliminate someone as a potential mate? According to a new survey by Match.com, almost half of Canadians would not date someone who is in debt. At all. That’s huge.
Now, I usually don’t write about press releases or surveys that I get sent, but I thought this one was fun, and also pretty interesting. Here are a few more results:
- 57% of singles have stopped dating because of their own lack of money.
- 50% of singles have stopped dating someone else because of a partner’s lack of money.
- 75% of singles would not borrow money from a partner
- 42% of singles say they have lent money to a partner in the past
Related: Could you ever marry for money?
I’ve dated guys in the past with wildly different financial histories and ways of managing money. One was extremely frugal, to the point where it was sometimes frustrating. One was incredibly bad with his money, and didn’t seem to think it was an issue. One had a weakness for expensive cars. One had more money than he knew what to do with.
I think that I could date someone with a moderate amount debt, as long as they had a reasonable plan in place to get themselves out of debt.
But there are definitely big differences in the type of debt that someone has.
For example, maybe you’d date someone that had $12,000 in credit card debt, but had a plan to be debt-free within a year.
But would you date someone that had just $5,000 in credit card debt (and was currently sinking further into debt), but had no plan (and no means) to pay it off? Maybe. Maybe not.
Would you date someone with $100,000 in student loans, knowing that their debt would likely have a significant effect on the timing of buying a house, getting married, having children, travel, etc?
When I was $20,000+ in the hole, I hope nobody would have dismissed me as a potential match just because of my financial situation. I knew my debt was a burden, but I had a plan to get myself out of that mess. And it definitely would have been nice if I had found the courage to confide in my partner at the time about my debt (and the serious stress I had because of it). But instead, I hid it because I was ashamed. However, if I had $200,000 in debt, maybe that’d be a different story. I would never want my debt to hold someone else back from achieving their goals in life.
And it’s not just being in debt as a potential factor in determining whether someone is (financially) compatible. Debt is just part of it. I think it’s important to have open discussions about money, debt, and goals on a regular basis – and if that doesn’t happen, regardless of the person’s financial situation – in my opinion, the relationship is likely doomed from the start.
Could you date someone who has debt?
Our original plan was to live in Stuttgart for 6 months, spend all of August traveling, and head back to Vancouver for the beginning of September. But now it looks like we be staying for good, and never coming home.
We will actually be extending our stay in Stuttgart an extra 3.5 months until mid December. :)
So right now, the plan for us is to still travel together for 3 weeks in August. Then, he will go back to Stuttgart. I will continue to Ireland, Scotland, and Iceland by myself. At that point, my travel plans become unclear. My original plan was to go from Iceland to Vancouver and spend 2 weeks there, before hopping over to Toronto for CPFC12. Then I’d head back to Stuttgart again. But, it’s not a very economical way of doing things. I did a bunch of research into flights, and basically I’d save about $800-900 in airfare if I just went back to Stuttgart for the 2 weeks in between Iceland and CPFC12, then fly to Toronto for a week. That makes the most sense.
However, there are things I need to take care of in Vancouver. So I’m going to figure out if I can get everything done via phone or here in Stuttgart, and if so – then I’ll skip out on Vancouver and save a huge chunk of money by just going to Toronto for a week.
While I would have liked to go home permanently in September and potentially look for more work opportunities, I’m content with staying here in Europe (after the initial shock of Nic asking if we could stay). I’m making enough money to support my lifestyle, pay the mortgage, and save some money. Granted, I’m not saving as much as I would like, but it’s less than 4 months more, so I know it’s doable.
It feels so indulgent to extend our stay, and I do feel guilty… but over my lifetime, an extra 3.5 months isn’t a lot. And I know I’d regret not staying. Plus, it’s going to benefit Nic’s career in the long run, and that’s what’s important now. I can work from anywhere. A few things have come up, and he can’t start the last semester of his masters program until January, so it doesn’t make sense for him to go back to Vancouver and try to find work for just a few months, when he has a good job at an architecture firm here.
I’m happy about this decision, and while I do miss home, I’m excited for what we have in store for the rest of the year. And we will definitely be slowing down our travel schedule through the fall, but we’ll still be doing a lot of exploring. Germany has so much to offer that we haven’t seen yet – Frankfurt, Hanover, Cologne, and probably Munich again (hopefully for Oktoberfest!!!). But, we also have two big trips planned – Turkey/Bulgaria in October for my birthday, as well as Budapest at some point. :)