Valentine's Day love is great, but Millennials and other struggling romantics suggest suitors need the finances to back it up.
Of 1,400 people surveyed by TD Bank in its most recent "Love & Money" survey, 58% said it is harder to find true love than financial success, despite being currently in a relationship.
"Generally, people can envision what steps they should take to achieve financial success and what milestones to target," says Jason Thacker, head of U.S. consumer deposits and payments at TD Bank. "But true love can be a bit more elusive."
Financial stability and love aren't mutually exclusive. In a poll of 2,000 people conducted by finance site NerdWallet, 40% said their partner's financial situation is more important than how they look.
Nearly half (48%) of those surveyed say they flat-out wouldn't date someone with bad credit. As for those with bad credit, they prefer digging themselves out of debt instead of bringing someone else down with them.
Even on Valentine's Day, people are willing to put more effort into protecting their wallets than they would to protect their hearts. A survey by MassMutual found that 47% of singles would rather experience an unexpected financial challenge over a romantic breakup. That percentage jumps for those who are married or living with a partner (68%) and for Millennials who bore the worst of the financial crisis (61%).
As it turns out, 60% of women and 43% of men say a potential partner's financial situation is important to them. In fact, 48% percent of Americans and 61% of those who make $100,000 or more say they wouldn't date someone with bad credit. Those with more education (and more student loan debt) have especially strong feelings about this point, with 63% of college graduates saying they wouldn't date someone with bad credit. Meanwhile, just 40% of people with a high school degree or less would say the same.
"If each partner's expectations aren't met or communicated to each other, frustration and disappointment can result that will eat away at the happiness in the relationship." said Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., a therapist, author and relationship expert professionally known as The Love Doctor.
There's still a chance that you could charm your way past your floundering finances this Valentine's Day, but that won't be the case for long. Though 60% of women say a partner's finances are important to them in their dating life (compared to just 35%) of men, 44% of the women and 35% of men think a partner's financial situation outweighs their attractiveness. Millennials aren't as desperate: 54% of younger men considering a potential partner's financial situation is more important than physical attractiveness and 43% of millennial women feeling the same.
"Financial success also feels more within one's personal control than finding true love, which can be heavily dependent on a variety of unique factors," TD Bank's Thacker says.
While 72% of couples tell TD Bank they have the personal finance skills needed to achieve financial success in life, many are still living paycheck-to-paycheck (37%), repaying debt (26%) and struggling with payments (16%).
Millennials already hold off on major milestones until they feel financially ready. They'll wait to buy a house (45%), have a baby (24%) or start a business (20%) until the financial support is there. However, they're also taking advice of Baby Boomer parents who tell them not to wait to start saving or investing (61%), but to slow down before they get married (26%).
Andrew Crowell, a third-generation financial advisor and vice-chairman of D.A. Davidson's Wealth Management division, suggests that couples don't need to wait until there's a wedding being planned to voice their financial concerns and expectations. If it's getting serious even before Valentine's day, he suggests the following course of action:
- Have a "Finances Date": It may sound awkward, but getting together and going over their last few months of credit card bills, bank statements and other financial records (like the last tax return or any debt they may have) can be a big step toward openness and honesty.
- Create an "In Case of Emergency" Plan: Does each person have an emergency fund? Does one or the other plan to borrow from others or go into debt in a crisis?n about what to do is helpful.
- Ask if "Mine and Yours" Is OK for Your Relationship: Are you taking on each other's assets and debts, or just from this point on? What about future inheritances?
- Maintain Separate Splurge Accounts: As Crowell notes, even this little bit of financial independence goes a long way toward keeping the peace.