Is a first date too soon to talk about money? We don’t think so. Check out the Money Do’s and Don’ts for how to bring up money on a first date.
The first date is going well. They’re cute, they’re laughing at your jokes and you’ve just finished your drinks.
But before you can leave, it’s time to pay the bill. And with it, the question you’ve all been avoiding:
Who pays the bill on a first date?
It’s a question you can’t escape unless you bring your coupon card with you on a date. But talking about money is something young people are getting more comfortable with.
39% of Gen Z and 37% of Millennials expect to split the bill on the first date.
That’s according to a Bankrate survey, released in April 2019. Millennials are also twice as likely as their parents to share their credit score or debt stories early in a romantic relationship and a third of us will share money specifics like our salary on a first date.
A first date is not too early to discuss money because you’re likely incurring costs to be there. Whether it’s drinks, food, or an activity date like bowling, most first dates will cost money. And how you have that conversation can be a great way to assess whether you should reach for your phone to line up a second date. You now just need to know how to bring up money as a first date conversation.
Here are the money do’s and don’ts of how to bring up money on a first date:
DO ask hypothetical questions to start.
A great way to ease someone into a conversation around money is to discuss it in hypothetical terms because you’re not revealing your personal information. Asking “if you were given $1 million today, what would you do with it?” is a lot less threatening than wanting someone’s salary when you’ve known them for all of half an hour. It’s also a great insight into what your date considers important and kickstart a deeper conversation on money.
DON’T assume your date will or won’t pay because of their gender.
The rules around who should pay on a date no longer exist and you shouldn’t assume that the gender of your date will determine who picks up the bill. Talk about it and explore options like going 50:50. In short, bring your wallet to every first date and leave your assumptions at home.
DO be honest about your financial situation.
The conversation can be an opportunity to talk openly about your financial situation to set the tone for future dates. For example, if you’re trying to save up a house deposit, you likely don’t want to splurge on drinks out multiple times a week. Knowing this upfront means they’re more likely to support you in reaching your financial goals on future dates.
DON’T push someone to get too specific too early.
No one wants to reveal their credit score on the first date. If you are proud of your specific situation, hang on to those figures for a future date once you’ve got to know them better. Save those sexy spreadsheets for date 10.
DO talk about your money goals.
Many people only talk about money in the context of negativity, including that bill that’s due to be paid at the end of your first date. Instead, induce some positivity into the situation by talking about the money goals you want to kick. Whether it’s saving up for the car you’ve been dreaming of or paying down a student debt, it’s worth sharing what you’re working towards as an indicator of how you want your future to look.
DON’T judge your date’s money goals if they don’t match yours.
Everyone is at a different place in their journey with money. They might be starting from a low-socioeconomic background, they might have taken on student debt to be the first in their family to go to university and get a higher paid job in the future. Ask them questions to understand their perspective before you judge whether your goals are compatible.
DO talk about your values with money.
Our values are core things we consider most important in the long-term. They are shaped by your childhood, your work environment, the friends you spend the most time with, and your overall financial situation. Discussing someone’s values about money will mean that you’re less likely to fight about it down the track, such as if you’re a saver who dates a spender.
DON’T brag about how much you have.
It can be really tempting to boost our ego by bragging about high-value possessions we’ve worked hard to own. However, consider whether your date is likely to share your enthusiasm for it or be put off by your humblebrag before you share.
DO ask them what their parents taught them about money.
Our childhood experiences around money are often internalised and carried with us into adulthood. This can be what your parents explicitly told you about money or what you implicitly picked up from them in their habits and financial behaviours. For example, if your parents were terrified of debt, you are likely to be less keen to take on credit in the future (thanks Mum!)
DON’T assume without clarifying.
Making assumptions about someone’s prospects based on their background or their current job might not reflect where they might end up 5 years from now. Ask questions and actively listen to their responses in order to build an understanding of who the person across from you on the first date is.
Money is something that you will encounter on a first date.
It makes sense to talk about money to take the awkwardness out of the bill arriving and no one knowing where they stand. If you’ve discussed money in a positive, non‑judgemental, and open way, you’re more likely to feel comfortable when that bill arrives. That comfort with each other is then more likely to lead to a second date with someone you’re financially compatible with.