How to broach a discussion about money with a date often stops people dead in their tracks. But you don’t have to pull out your calculator and insist on inspecting your partner’s bank and brokerage statements to learn about basic money attitudes. You can start gathering information about how this person thinks and acts financially with a few questions that have a lighter touch than “What’s your debt to earnings ratio?”
1. Do you carry a credit card balance? Do you pay off your bill in full each month?
Using a credit card regularly only makes good financial sense when you pay the total off every month. If you carry a balance, you are needlessly paying more for every one of your credit card purchases. Why would you shop around for cheap gas, then pay 18% more per gallon by not paying off your credit card bill? Very short sighted, and shows money ignorance.
2. What kind of benefits do you get when you use your credit card? How have you used them?
While the bonus programs that credit cards have offered to get you to use their cards have gotten less lucrative and harder to cash in, there are still some programs that make good sense if you look around. I have had a deal for years where a percentage of my total purchases goes towards the purchase of a car. The salesman deducted a couple of thousand dollars off the top of the bill for my last car, simply as a result of my carefully using the same credit card for all my purchases — and of course, I pay off the bill every month. Searching out a good bonus program shows initiative and money smarts.
3. Do you have any investments?
How a person answered this question would imply their level of basic money self-education. Have they bought their own home? Were they able to take advantage of recent low interest rates on mortgages, as well as the deductibility of mortgage interest? Do they have any interest or understanding of the stock market? Have they bothered to learn about financial investing?
4. If you won $10,000 (or a million dollars), what would you do with it?
This could be a diagnostic question in disguise of fun and games. The thought of winning money stirs the creative juices. Whether your date is basically a spender or a saver, foolish or thrifty, stingy or generous, should be easily evident in their answer.
5. What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn about money?
Of course, this implies that your boyfriend has learned something! How and what they describe could reveal a lot.