I read a recent article you wrote about disclose the debt to a partner. I have the opposite problem.
As a single girl in my twenties, I make a more than decent living in an area where the cost of living is relatively low. I am earning much more than the average person here, especially at my age.
As I get more serious about dating, I find that people of my generation are very frank about their financial situation, and many of the men I am dating are puzzled even by the implication of the money I earn.
Since millennials are getting more and more casual when talking about their financial status, when are you supposed to disclose your income in a relationship?
Imagine you are discussing salary with a guy you are dating. You enter the conversation expecting that you will be the one who generates the most income. But then the man surprises you. How would you feel if he revealed to you that he earns three or four times more than you?
My knee-jerk reaction to reading your letter was to say goodbye to any man who can’t bear to be with a woman who’s over him. That’s advice I’ll follow, for the most part.
But I also did an instinctive check. And I have to admit it: as a single woman, I think at first I would go crazy if I found out I was dating someone whose salary was triple my salary. So before we talk about when to reveal salary, let’s talk about how someone might feel to find out that their paycheck is much smaller than their potential partner’s.
One thing I would be concerned about here is the likelihood that we have very different lifestyles. I can afford to pay for my vacation according to my own standards. But what if you are used to going around the world first class? I would have to stay home or (shudder) ask him to pay for a portion of my trip. Either option would hurt my fragile ego.
But perhaps most importantly, it would interrupt the narrative I have about myself. I like to think of myself as a successful woman. But if I’m using salary as a metric of success, a mistake that a lot of people make, I’m measurably less successful. Will anyone really see me as an equal if it takes me four hours to earn what it would earn in one?
They may sound like silly worries, but some people find it very distressing to date outside of their tax bracket. Often times, the person with the highest income simply cannot bear that the price of being with someone they love is paying more than 50%.
However, there are many happy couples who have very different incomes. They recognize that being equal is about both people bringing love and energy, even if one partner pays more than the bills.
It’s hard to get to that point if you focus too much on money too early. Focus on getting to know the person. On that note, try planning dates early on that don’t require a lot of money.
As you get to know someone, you will often find that you naturally get to know their finances. It is not necessary to exchange W-2 forms to get an idea of where someone is. You can start by talking in terms of general goals, as something you are saving for.
The time for more concrete conversations about money, including salary, is when you start making longer-term plans. I’m not talking about waiting until you are ready to move in together. But when you’re thinking about things like vacation and vacation plans, or anything that might involve budgeting, it’s a sign that it’s time to get into the details. Ideally, by the time you have this conversation, none of the people will be surprised by what they hear.
You say that people your age are quite frank about their financial situation. Listen carefully to what they tell you, even if it is not directly about salary. Many people don’t have flawless finances in their 20s. It’s okay. What you are hearing is whether they are taking steps to get to a better place.
Really, salary alone says very little about someone’s financial health. I spent eight months with a guy who was making six figures. Guess what? When the air conditioning in his house broke, he could barely improvise $ 1,400.
Keep in mind that being too direct about anything, including money, is a red flag early on. It is perfectly reasonable and responsible for someone to mention up front that they have a limited budget because they are paying off debt. But what if they are telling you about all the financial problems, along with the family and the drama of past relationships? To run. The same is true if you get TMI probed too early.
Get to know the person behind the paycheck before revealing your actual paychecks. When you find a true partner, the salary discrepancy is not that important.
Robin Hartill is a Certified Financial Planner and Senior Writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your misleading money questions to [email protected]