As a dating coach, I get many questions about love and money. Today, I’d like to tackle one of the biggest:

What if my partner spends money differently than I do?

Your approach to finances, if it differs from your partner’s, can put tremendous strain on a relationship. So whatever your views are on spending money, it’s important that you and your partner are comfortable with the other’s approach.

Are you the type of person who would cut coupons all day to save a few dollars? Does cable TV just seem so unnecessary when you can watch your favorite shows online a few days later? Or, maybe you order one fewer drink than you want when you’re out with friends for dinner?

On the other hand, perhaps you’re the type of person who likes to take extravagant vacations every year and blow your whole December paycheck? Is it imperative that you’re walking around with the latest iPhone® and iPad®? Maybe you buy new clothes whenever you feel a little sad?

Neither of these methods is wrong, or even mutually exclusive. However, they are different – and that can cause tension in a relationship.

About six years ago, I dated someone for a year and a half who viewed money differently than I did. He wasn’t Jewish, and I thought that might be the biggest obstacle in our relationship, but when it came down to it, it was our difference in spending habits that led to our demise. I work hard, and I like to reward myself. I’m not talking about Tiffany bracelets and Louis Vuitton bags, but small conveniences. For example, we used to argue all the time over valet parking. If it’s cold out, and there is no street parking available, I think it’s worth the $10 or $15 for the convenience of walking right into the restaurant. He, on the other hand, would rather drive around for 20 minutes, make us late, and walk a mile to avoid the cost. Again, neither belief is right or wrong; they are just different. Making sure you’re compatible with your partner’s approach to money, however, can save you from an endless tug-of-war over what’s important and what isn’t.

When it comes down to it, how you decide to spend your hard-earned money is a very personal decision. Just like your values on politics and religion, your values on money will likely play a large role in your relationship. That’s why it’s best to address these issues before they become overwhelming. Rather than letting a monetary issue fester, bring it up to your partner before you become resentful of the other’s spending habits. (In fact, this is a healthy way to handle most large issues that arise in a relationship.) Some situations will end with an easy compromise, and some won’t. For your relationship to go the distance, though, it’s important that your partner is willing to invest themselves completely!

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people navigate the world of online dating. Her services include: writing unique profiles to get you noticed, helping to choose your best profile pictures, writing one-of-a-kind emails to get someone’s attention, and planning dates. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter for updates and tips.
  1. Fabulous article! It’s well-written and contains good advice!

  2. I really enjoy reading these articles. They give great advice.

  3. Hi
    Good article, there is always a compromise. In that example the answer is simple, why doesn’t he drop her off at the restaurant and go find a parking spot. Basically don’t sweat the small stuff.

  4. Hi-I enjoyed your article. It was well written and thought provoking. I guess one missing element that you chose not to address is the even more critical question of: who is paying for what? I wonder in your example with the valet parking, if you offered to pay or pick up drinks before dinner? I would imagine if still in the dating phase you did not have merged finances? A lot of times, the “difference” is not in money styles as you suggest but rather actions by the guy to neutralize the financial contribution in the dating process. Perhaps in your example, the guy is calculating, “I’m going to be hit with $100 dinner bill do I really don’t want to pay an extra $20.” He very well may have choose the valet option if the dating expenses were more equal and he knew for example you may pick up dinner. I’m just throwing out there that there may be other factors at play then a true “spending style.” He could have the same “style” or choices as you but his expenses in the dating game are different which naturally affects that style. I think a lot of spending differences emerge because guys realize early on that they will need to subsidize a lot of the “going out” expenses which can be a huge. From my own experience dating many many Jewish girls, it is rarely equal monetary contribution even if both partners are making comparable incomes or even after the topic has been broached.

  5. There is a lot to be said for being a true gentleman in a courting relationship. Women are on the average more prone to appreciating a guy with the traditional manners of opening doors, paying for dinner, etc. Times have changed certainly but this sort of thinking is never going to out of style.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *