Excerpted from Well-Heeled by Lesley-Anne Scorgie. Copyright © 2014, Lesley-Anne Scorgie. All rights reserved. www.dundurn.com
Someday, your financial situation will impact your life partner's future, and vice versa. And after reading this book and investing time in improving your personal, professional, and financial pillars, let's face it: you're not going to want to date or form a household with a financial dope. On the flip side, if you choose to carry on being an overzealous, credit-card-carrying shopaholic with bucketloads of debt, ultimately distracting you from making healthy career and personal choices, you're likely to scare off financially savvy, emotionally healthy, and respectful suitors.
Irresponsible money management is a huge irritant for people who are dating; one person might feel pressured into paying for everything, or sense the other partner isn't committed to a long-term financial plan. Bad financial habits such as debt and poor spending patterns limit new couples as they plan trips, enjoy meals out, consider re-arranging living situations, and so on. This results in resentment, not butterflies.
It's ultra-sexy to date someone who doesn't tow monetary baggage and whose financial house is in order.
Adopting best practices from this book will help you take care of you – for your financial benefit, not anyone else's. In the process though, you'll certainly increase your marketability in the dating world.
So get organized to rid yourself of debt. Cut up all but one credit card, and list out who you owe money to, and how much. Negotiate interest rates and consolidate expensive credit card balances. Trade in your $3 Italian soda for a free glass of water so you can pay a little extra on the debt with the highest interest rate. If you're severely overextended with your house or car, downsize both. If you can't keep up with payments, see a credit counsellor.
If overspending is your problem, fix it. Remove all temptations to spend. Unsubscribe from shopping websites or online coupons. Draw up a budget and stick to it. Hide credit cards by burying them in the backyard. Don't go to malls, plazas, and other shopping venues.
Plan a bright future by starting to save and invest using tax-advantaged retirement plans. Sign up for your company's retirement savings plan and contribute the maximum amount. They might even give you free money. If you're self-employed, the tax advantages associated with your registered retirement savings are huge, but you'll have to set up your own plan through a qualified financial institution.
I don't suggest steering clear of dating while you're reducing debt and growing assets. Rather, put together a responsible money-management plan that shows you care about your future. You'll feel much better about yourself, which means you can be more yourself when you're in dating mode.
If the other person is the financial problem, you'll want to discuss ways to improve the situation … or just give your sweetheart this book.
Now, I know that talking about money has historically been considered a social faux pas, but these days it's critical. No, you don't need to scare off your honey with all your money talk. But you do need to start chatting about what's important to you.
Before you walk down the aisle or live together, talk about your views on money; where have the views originated from (e.g., parents or friends), spending versus saving, frugality, debt, buying property, charitable giving, career path and the income that goes with it. Ask each other about your hopes and dreams for the future – this is the fun part. Then you can work back from there. So, if you and your honey want to own a sailboat and live on the West Coast, talk about how you can make that a reality.