I recently read an article that you wrote about Disclosing Debt To A Partner. I have the opposite problem.
As a single girl in my late twenties, I make a more than decent living in an area where the cost of living is relatively low. I earn a lot more here than the average person, especially my age.
When I date each other more seriously, I find that the people of my generation are very open about their financial situation, and many of the men I date are themselves struck by the implication of the money I make.
As millennial people become more and more relaxed about their financial situation, when should you disclose your income in a relationship?
Imagine yourself having a salary interview with a man you meet. You enter the conversation expecting you to be the higher earner. But then the man surprises you. How would you feel if he reveals that he makes three or four times more than you do?
My gut reaction to reading your letter was to say a good release to any man who can’t stand to be with a woman who surpasses him. Most of this advice will be by my side.
But I also did an intestinal check. And I have to admit, as a single woman, I think that if I found myself dating someone whose salary is three times my own, I would be off balance first. So before we talk about when to disclose salary, let’s talk about how someone might feel when they find that their paycheck is much smaller than that of their potential partner.
One thing that I would be concerned about here is the likelihood that we will have very different lifestyles. I can afford to pay my way for a vacation that is up to my own standards. But what if he’s used to flying around the world first class? I would either have to stay home or (with a shudder) ask him to pay for part of my way. Any option would hurt my fragile little ego.
But perhaps more importantly, it would interfere with the narrative I have about myself. I like to consider myself a successful woman. But when I use salary as a measure of success – a mistake many people make – I’m less successful quantitatively. Will someone really see me as an equal if it takes me four hours to earn what they make in one?
Perhaps these sound like silly concerns, but some people so far have found it very unsettling to be outside their tax bracket. Often times, the higher earner just can’t stand the price of working with someone he loves being more than 50%.
Still, there are many happy couples with very different incomes. They realize that equality is about both people contributing love and energy, even if one partner pays more of the bills.
This point is difficult to get to if you focus heavily on money too soon. Focus on getting to know the person. With that in mind, try to plan appointments early that don’t require a lot of money.
Often times, when you get to know someone, you find that you naturally get to know their finances. You don’t have to swap out a W-2 to get a feel for where someone is. You can start by talking about general goals, such as something you’re saving for.
The time for more specific discussions about money, including salary, is when you start making longer-term plans. I’m not talking about waiting until you’re ready to move in. But when you think about things like vacation plans and vacations, or anything that might go with it make a budgetThis is a sign that it is time to go into details. Ideally, when you have this conversation, no person will be shocked by what they hear.
They say that people your age are pretty open about their financial situation. Listen carefully to what they are telling you, even if it is not directly about salary. Many people do not have flawless finances in their 20s. That’s OK. What you are hearing is whether they are taking action to get to a better place.
Salary alone says very little about a person’s financial health. I spent eight months with a guy who made six-figure amounts. Guess what? When the air conditioner broke in his house, he could still barely cobble together $ 1,400.
Remember, being too open about everything, including money, early on is a red flag. It is perfectly reasonable and responsible for someone to mention early on that they are on a budget because they are paying off debts. But what if they tell you about all the money problems, along with the family drama and the past relationship? Run. The same goes if you are checked for TMI too early.
Before you reveal your actual paychecks, get to know the person behind the paycheck. When finding a real partner, a salary gap isn’t that big of a deal.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]
This article originally appeared on www.thepennyhoarder.com