There are plenty of conversations that need to be had and issues to be worked out when you’re dating. For example, as the relationship gets more serious, you have to start working out matters of money. If you’re talking about taking on another person’s financial burdens/debts, etc. and if one of you is a lousy worker or neither of you is great with handling money, that’s going to stress out a relationship to the breaking point. The number one thing that married couples fight about is money.

Money equals security. Money equals the ability to function independently within society. Money equals the power to support oneself and create stability for your family. The lack of it stresses out a relationship.

You’d think this was a marriage topic, however, with more people opting to move in together, money becomes a bigger potential pitfall for couples. Co-mingling funds, buying houses together, or any other business type arrangement often become messy entanglements. Plus, women typically come out on the wrong financial end of a break up after moving in together.

Here are a few things to look out for and/or discuss:

-how does your significant other handle bills and debt (you HAVE to discuss debt to realistically assess your situation)

-how does your significant other budget and balance a check book

-accountability: does your significant other have trouble taking responsibility for their actions or are their misfortunes everyone else’s fault?

-an inability to hold down a job. Again, this points to their ability to sustain stability and be dependable. Along these lines, do they run through a series of jobs or work the wrong kind of jobs? After all, even though life does happen, there are career jobs and there are stop gap jobs. Sometimes it’s a matter of doing what you have to do and other times it’s doing as little as possible to get by. Know the difference.

-irresponsible spending or what I call the “magic bean” philosophy. If they are prone to spend their entire check on books, alcohol, or Magic cards (uh, I’m just saying – but I was single then) rather than gas or groceries, you will have problems in your future.

-long-term thinking. Folks need direction and a plan. Beyond just the immediate needs of sustaining a family, there are issues like retirement, savings, and college funds to think about.

Above all, the end goal is that you don’t want to end up with a sponge/leech masquerading as an equal partner.

My wife and I have had basically two conversations about money: one where she confessed how in debt she was (at which point I told her that I crap bigger debt than she has – and it took us a couple of years to get to zero debt); and two when we decided she should handle the day-to-day bills (cause I have a lot of … quirks when it comes to mail/bills). It helps if at least one partner is good at handling money (or if one concedes that they suck at it).

Money issues shouldn’t be embarassing to discuss (pride is a big obstacle in these discussions). Just about everyone could stand to learn more about how money, especially their money, works.

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