You Know What I Mean?
Dear Fayza: Can I make a relationship work if he's an utter fool about money?
'Tis the season of your wallet's folly!
I know there's nothing like some juicy holiday cheer to completely drain the dinero to the very bottom of your bank account. You'll think about it in January, right? But for now, PRESENTS!
Fickle finances, however, aren't season specific. Spastic spending that spans the entire year is often worse — and further reaching — than binge buying in November and December.
But what happens when you mix a budding romance with bad bookkeeping? That's what this week's letter writer wants to know.
I recently met this really amazing guy. He's fun, funny, and we have a lot of similar interests. So far, we're having the best time together.
There's only one thing that isn't cool with me. He owes a lot of money because of some bad investments he made, he doesn't save any money at all, and he has nothing saved for retirement.
I, on the other hand, am very good with money. I save, I pinch, and I invest. The fact that someone could be so financially irresponsible at our age freaks me out.
It actually really bothers me. Should I consider this a dealbreaker?
- Fiscally Responsible
My, my — you really are responsible, aren't you? The first few weeks of an amorous relationship should be carefree! Blissful! Filled with cloudy judgment and an overabundance of irritating exclamation points! But, tsk tsk, you had to go and mix reality into the heady cocktail.
Good for you.
We're not kids anymore. (Well, I'm assuming you're not — what kids think about finances past what'll get them wasted at the bar?) We don't leap with abandon like we used to — and frankly, we really shouldn't. We don't have time to waste screwing around — especially time which we spend in passionate partnerships.
I can't blame you for looking ahead, and evaluating whether or not these are characteristics that you want in a boyfriend moving forward.
But slow your roll for just a second. It's a little too soon for this to be an outright dealbreaker already.
Relationships — and the people in them — aren't static. We change. Often, our greatest personal growth comes from what we learn from another human being that we truly care about, respect and love. It's the reason I've learned how to make an omelette, clean and lube a bike chain and answer the question, "What's wrong?" with a response other than, "Nothing . . ."
I tell you, mutual admiration will make you do the craziest things — even learn how to man up on your monetary obligations. It's pretty Pollyanna positive of me, but I speak from personal experience.
However. (Yes, however.) I can't guarantee it.
The willingness to learn must independently exist within him — because you're certainly not changing this man if he's not interested in making the change himself.
You'll figure that out — with time. I'm not saying this is something you should've already gleaned from your fledgling relationship. That's why I can't tell you that this is a dealbreaker — yet.
You have to give yourself a chance to get to know him, assess his character, and figure out whether or not he simply doesn't know how to rectify the errors of his ways — or if he's truly juvenile when faced with his very adult responsibilities.
If he's too financially flippant for it to compute with you, you're savvy enough to know that his habits will have a profound impact on you, should your separate colonies merge to form a more perfect union.
Money is the No. 1 thing couples fight about according to every glossy rag at every checkout counter in every grocery store in every corner of America. Having compatible financial philosophies is one major, major component in turning mere affinities into lifelong allegiances.
For now? It's really too soon to write him off just yet. But be patient, be cognizant, and ultimately, be honest with yourself based on what you can or can't handle moving forward. Do your due diligence, and trust your gut to make the judgment call for you.
We're too old to be doing anything impulsively — including not giving a decent guy a shot at your heart. But we're also too old to be dicking around once we've tempered our own fantasies with undeniable realities, too.
Asking for advice from me is the best financial investment you'll ever make. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, message me on Facebook or Twitter, or leave a question in the comments below. It's the most positive ROI you can get.