Sometimes saving money feels completely incompatible with dating. But it’s not.
When going out, what you do isn’t nearly as important as how and why you do it. The same is true of all your choices — the car you drive, the house you live in, the clothes you wear.
If you’ve got good reasons for wanting to spend less, frugality can actually be a really attractive quality. But the person sitting across from you on your next date needs to know about those reasons and what they mean for your potential future together.
The Sexy Side of Frugality
You know that consistently living below your means (and saving the difference) exempts you from worrying about when your bills are due.
You know that investing your extra cash today will pay you back later, allowing you to do whatever you want every day for the rest of your life. Others may aspire to travel long-term, but you’ll actually have the resources to do so before you’re too old to really enjoy it.
You know that financial independence will give you the time to be a better spouse and parent one day.
Here’s the problem: Your date doesn’t know any of these things. So, you have to tell them.
The average person doesn’t know much about personal finance, and they almost certainly won’t know what financial independence even is. That will likely mean a steep learning curve for anyone you decide to date. But this is actually a “pro” rather than a “con,” because these things set you apart from everyone else. They show that you think differently, set goals, and follow through with the work to achieve those goals. And that’s hot.
Tips for Explaining Yourself to Your Date
For some reason, talking about money remains kind of taboo, so it might feel a little weird to bring this stuff up. That said, it’s something you absolutely have to talk about at some point if you’re gonna get serious with someone.
The best way to do that is to explain your decision-making as part of what you want your future to look like. This kind of reasoning shows a potential partner that you actually think about the future (and that you’re planning for it now). It’s a signal of responsibility and maturity that’s woefully lacking in the dating pool (regardless of gender, age, or career path).
When you frame your frugal habits as part of a cohesive plan for your future, it’s a lot easier to understand why you prefer Netflix over going to the movie theater, or why you’d rather cook a nice dinner than go out to eat.
DON’T SAY: “I want to quit work when I’m 30.”
DO SAY: “I’m focused on becoming financially free so that I can spend more time on things I’m passionate about — like family, creative projects, and enjoying my life.”
Saying you want to retire super early just so you can stop working ASAP probably won’t be what your date wants to hear. And frankly, it kinda misses the point of financial independence in the first place. For someone who has never been exposed to the concept of financial independence and early retirement, it can sound: 1) unbelievable, 2) lazy, and 3) a little self-centered.
Instead, try explaining your goals from the perspective of what you both stand to gain, rather than what you’re trying to lose (working 40+ hours a week until you die).
You shouldn’t lie or overly tailor the message to every person you take out. Just make it clear that you have dreams beyond “not working,” and that being financially responsible now will help make those dreams a reality sooner rather than later.
DON’T SAY: “I don’t want to spend that much — it’s way too expensive!”
DO SAY: “It sounds fun, but I’m not sure I want to backtrack on my goals for that right now.”
This goes back to my previous point about reframing the issue. By explaining why you don’t want to spend more money on something rather than dismissing the idea out of hand, you’re showing the other person that they’ve been heard and considered — and that your reasoning is rooted in responsibility. You’re not being cheap by refusing to overspend; you’re being mature by not robbing your savings account. That’s a turn-on!
DON’T SAY: “I’m gonna be super rich one day.”
DO SAY: “I plan to have enough money saved one day that my family and I can live comfortably while enjoying more time together.”
This is more about avoiding braggy-ness than anything else, but there’s another point to make. Now, you’re shining a light on what you care about (retiring early to live a life with the people you love) rather than making it seem like you think of yourself as the next Elon Musk. Your motives are humble and unselfish.
Reaching financial independence at a relatively young age means more time for you and your potential partner to pursue your passions individually and together. You should try to focus your money conversations around that idea. And if you can get them on board with the idea too, that’s great — having shared goals is a great way to strengthen any relationship.
But at the same time, you can’t just assume any person you date will fall in line with whatever your financial plan happens to be — for a few reasons. First, it can take time for people to change their mind about money, especially as people get older and habits become more ingrained as strongly-held beliefs. Second, your date might have their own goals that may or may not fit within your ideal plan.
You shouldn’t be immediately dismissive of another person’s money choices (even if that person wants to buy a brand new car when you know it’s a terrible financial decision). You can still find a way to make things work out over time, making new plans together that include both of your goals — even if it changes your current plan a little.
Ignore People Who are Totally Incompatible with You
While I believe people who truly care about each other can come together to make a relationship work, it’s also possible for people to be too mismatched — especially on important topics like finances — to really be happy together, long term. You have to accept that there are good people out there who will never understand you or your goals.
As cringey as some of these “high maintenance girl” videos are, this influencer kinda has a point…
If your idea of a perfect date is hiking up to a good view for a picnic, and the person you want to take out has never hiked before — that’s okay. You can take them anyway. If they don’t enjoy it and never want to do it again, you can figure out some other inexpensive ideas you’ll both enjoy.
If someone you’re dating constantly pressures you to spend more than you want to, even after learning of your debt payoff or investing goals — that’s a red flag. You need to see that kind of situation for what it is: a pain point that’ll resurface for the rest of your relationship.
It doesn’t really matter that I’m more of a morning person while Steven is a night owl. What matters is that we share the big stuff.
You can compromise on what time to go to bed, or where to go on a date, but the life-altering things — like setting financial goals and working to achieve them — aren’t worth fighting over again and again for the rest of your life. It’s okay to let a potential relationship go for those reasons.
Talking about and tackling the big things together is what makes a relationship magical.