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It’s not exactly the most fun thing to sit down and figure out whether the person you’re dating is on the same page as you financially—in fact, you could practically call it a buzzkill. But if you’re serious about one another, talking about credit scores, budgets, and debt is not something you should put off, because one money mistake can be all it takes to get you into serious and immediate financial trouble.
It’s hard enough to budget and track your own spending and saving habits, but when your dreams are shared and depend on the equal due diligence of another person, you have even less control over how quickly you get there. So you’ll want to find out sooner rather than later if you align on how you handle your money, before it potentially becomes an issue.
Here are five tips to help you determine whether you and your partner are a good “money match.”
1. They react positively when you bring up finances.
It’s a no-brainer: The best way to discover how your partner feels about money is to ask. The easiest way to begin is to talk about your own finances first. For example, if you’re making monthly student loan payments while also building an emergency fund and investing for retirement, pick a time to bring up how you do that successfully, and why. Then, see where the conversation takes you. If your S.O. isn’t open to talking about his or her finances, consider that a red flag, but not necessarily a deal-breaker—yet. In time, the conversation should flow naturally, but at the very least it should feel like a positive, constructive discussion that you both feel good about.
Related: How This Couple Found Chemistry and Are Eliminating $130K in Student Debt Together
2. They have similar spending habits.
As you consider whether you want to stay in the relationship, watch your partner’s spending habits while you’re on dates. Does he shop impulsively, or take steps to avoid overspending? You’ll find answers in behaviors such as coupon usage and searching online for reviews and deals prior to making a purchase. Does she pay only the minimum monthly payment on her student loan, but think nothing of regularly ordering a $100 bottle of wine at her favorite restaurant? You get the picture.
3. They share your philosophy around money.
Whether you are an aggressive saver, believe in investing in a few key areas, or think working with a financial planner is necessary, they tend to agree and want to go all-in with you in those directions. Even if you don’t agree on each and every one of the smaller details (which exact places to invest, for example), it matters that you two share similar values in the long run, because it means you’ll both be handling your money in what you think are the wisest ways possible.
4. They’re committed to their money goals, whatever they may be.
A partner who’s created a budget, whether it’s formal or informal, signals seriousness about saving and preventing spending from spiraling out of control. If they tell you what their plans are and consistently stick to them, that’s a good sign they’ll keep doing that when you mix in your finances, too. On the other side, constant mentions of late or missed bill payments will tell you that they lack the dedication to even their own financial plans, and could be a risk to your own financial well-being.
Recommended: How to Create Spectacular (Possibly Epic) Memories With Your Partner Without Breaking the Bank
5. You use your unique financial situations to play to your strengths.
This is an interesting one—but basically, just because you’re in love and recognize the need to agree on important financial goals, such as saving for your wedding or your first child, doesn’t mean you should kiss autonomy goodbye. If one of you is great at saving and the other is a careful spender, or one of you is an excellent investor and the other is good at finding credit cards with the greatest rewards, make those things work to your advantage. Create a budget that speaks to your individual strengths and needs, and you’ll both be able to reap the benefits—financially and otherwise.
There are many ways to light a flame when it comes to romance, but striking the financial money match requires a little due diligence. Date with your eyes wide open, and keep looking for tangible clues to whether your partner lives within his or her means and sets realistic financial goals.
If you and your partner struggle with student loan debt, SoFi can help you understand all of your options—including refinancing and debt consolidation—so you can make the right decisions for your financial goals.