Your 6-step guide to money etiquette while dating, by @MrsDowJones

Feb 12, 2020

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Money etiquette can be super confusing when you’re dating — I mean, who else has thought being ‘friends with benefits’ meant you got health care? (Hint: That’s not what it means.)

I’m Haley Sacks, the founder of @MrsDowJones, and I make money and finance accessible to the masses.

Hopefully, this guide will steer you in the right direction so you feel confident dating everyone from a Prada-clad billionaire to a super hot hippie who just happens to live in a van.

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Rule 1: Be clear

Dating is confusing enough — don’t mix money signals into the equation. Know where the line is for you financially and stand your ground. For example, if you like to be treated to dinner when asked out on the first date, don’t reach for your wallet when the check comes.

When I was younger, I would reach for my wallet and faux fight to split the bill on the first date, even though I wanted to be treated. This made things super weird. Being clear in this particular case means not offering to pay. Set yourself up to win by making your actions match your expectations. (And if you are paying, be sure and whip out a card that earns you a nice stash of miles on the meal.)

Rule 2: Amount spent doesn’t correlate to interest

The hallmark of a good date shouldn’t be that it was expensive — it should be that you had fun and felt like he or she was obsessed with you. Don’t analyze how much they spent as a way to gauge their interest, the way you might analyze a text or wait to see if they watched your Instagram story. A really amazing date doesn’t have to break the bank.

Sometimes it’s fun to just grab your passport, head all the way to Brooklyn and pretend you always eat carbs when he wants to get tacos.

Related: Love is in the cards: What plastic your date should use to pay for dinner

Rule 3: Don’t spend their money without asking

Photo courtesy of The Newport Lobster Shack.
(Photo courtesy of The Newport Lobster Shack)

I’m not trying to be a benefactor for my dates to finally try a legit 27-plate omakase dinner. Vice versa, I don’t expect them to do that for me.

If someone invites you — or you invite them — on a costly date, and who pays or contributes to the bill matters to you, make sure that’s clear up front. And don’t be afraid to say no if your date wants to split a tab that doesn’t align with your budget or desires. You just need to be upfront. Otherwise, you may end up resenting this person for causing you financial stress.

Rule 4: Don’t pry

Financial intimacy and emotional intimacy are not the same things.

As much as I wish every guy was as open about his student loans as he is about exes, finances are a sticky situation and everyone has different boundaries. Not to be Sigmund Freud, but a lot of people grow up with parents who didn’t talk about money. Or they did, but it was often a stressful and contentious topic.

There’s going be a time to have this conversation, but at the beginning, when you’re just dating, try not to pry into their finances. Of course, if you take pride in being financially savvy, don’t downplay that — it’s an amazing trait! But also, don’t ask someone what his or her credit score is within the first month. That’s true even if you’re going out with a real-life prince. You might have Googled him and know he’s a royal billionaire, but until he tells you that he grew up in a palace, don’t bring it up.

Related reading: 5 ways to improve your credit score

Rule 5: Don’t be afraid to earn more

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

You can definitely date someone who is in a different tax bracket than you and even find long-lasting love. So own your career success — it’s amazing. And if you want to spoil your date, more power to you. Just be sure he or she isn’t taking you for granted. That’s when you know you have a leech. Don’t be that person, and don’t date that person.

Rule 6: Find balance

Every relationship has its own version of balance. As you go on more dates with this person, you will figure out what that looks like. Maybe you pay for bagels in the morning and he or she pays for dinner. Maybe you split everything straight down the middle. Each couple is different. You’ll find your groove, as long as you’re open-minded and aware of your boundaries. That way neither partner feels disrespected and vulnerable.

OK, it’s time to get ready for my date. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Instagram.

Haley Sacks is the founder of @MrsDowJones. She started the platform in 2017 when she wanted to learn about investing, but found herself bored by the overly serious content available. Featured in The New York Times and Good Morning America, @MrsDowJones disrupts Wall Street through memes, videos and merchandise that make money accessible to the masses. She lives in New York City.

Featured photo by DAJ/Getty Images

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