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How to Bring Up Money With Someone You’re Dating Casually

By Jackie Lam
June 25, 2018

So you’re doing the whole Tinder thing.

It’s sort of a given that a “Netflix and chill” situation doesn’t necessarily dictate a deep dive into personal money matters. However, depending on the circumstances, you may still want to bring up finances with the person you’re dating.

And we get it. No matter the dynamic of the relationship, talking about money is no easy feat.

Here are some pointers on how to dredge up—er, bring up—the topic of money with someone you’re dating casually. This way you’ll better gauge how much you want to reveal about your financial situation.

Scenario #1: Someone You’re Just “Hanging Out With”

This is the person that you may hit up to get a round of happy hour drinks at your local watering hole. Or, maybe you need a date for that summer wedding, and you’re *this close* to renting a friend. (Yes, this is an actual thing.)

In this situation, you can approach the money talk in the same way that you’d approach it with a new friend. For example, you can get to know each other by commiserating about shared money woes, or how much ATM fees suck. While you’re at it, this is a good time to work out who is paying for what, or how you want to handle the bar tab.

This may lead to the next conversation: are you going splitsies or who will treat the other to those drinks? In this case, this opens the door to discuss money-saving apps. And that’s totally cool. Perhaps you’ll end up swapping some useful knowledge. Beyond that, keep it low-key and light.

Scenario #2: Friends With Benefits

So, this could get complicated. Besides worrying whether the other person has serious feelings for you, you may wonder if you should pay for the meal, or go Dutch? What would that signify? Fair warning: things can get a bit tricky. If you want to play it safe, ask yourself, “What would friends do?” From there, proceed accordingly.

Another thing: Venmo with caution. Sure, this popular app is essentially a fun way to go splitsies with pals when out on the town. It’s also a great way to share the rent. Yet, it can also offer a revealing peek into someone else’s friend network, activities, and social interactions. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets FOMO when I see my pals’ transactions for brunches and poolside parties. So, be prepared. You may learn more about the other’s social life than you should—or want to.

Scenario #3: Booty Calls

If you’re an inveterate booty-caller or are just going through a phase, you may want to keep things as non-intrusive as possible with hook-up partners.

To be honest, there really isn’t a compelling reason to talk money with this person, unless you’re a money nerd like me (I’m only half-kidding.) Take it from me, keep topics as light and easy-peasy as possible.

Scenario #4: Netflix and Chill

Are the two of you keeping it super casual? If all you want is to get cozy on the couch and binge-watch on Netflix, then splitting the costs of GrubHub and a bottle of two-buck chuck may be the extent of your money talk. The deepest it may go is engaging in light banter over how you’re saving up for that summer vacay or went a little crazy with the spending last weekend.

If you ever need to chat about something more serious, just be sure to do so when you’re both awake and sober. Otherwise, it’ll prove unproductive or just plain disastrous.

Scenario #5: New Date With Potential

Maybe things are moving beyond merely FWB or the Netflix and chill stage, and you’re both experiencing mutual feels. How do you get “financially naked” and bring up more serious, sensitive money matters?

Try sussing things out, says Jodi Scott Elliott, a 36-year-old LA-based freelance writer who once ran a blog about her experiences as a serial dater.

“If you feel like money is something that is important to the person you’re dating, you need to bring it up,” says Scott Elliott.

As it’s a touchy subject, coming at it from a calm matter-of-fact way is best, she says.

“Any relationship worth having, you should be able to communicate needs and issues,” she says. “Acknowledge that it’s an awkward conversation and address only what is necessary, but I think the sooner you do address it, the better.”

Talking About Money? Handle With Care

Why make the casual dating game more difficult than it needs to be? No matter what the arrangement, handling money talks with kid gloves is the way to go. Otherwise, it’ll just lead to awkwardness or frustration.

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