Does money matter to you in a mate??

This is one of those statements I hear a lot, that money shouldn’t matter to someone in a mate.

Is this accurate or how most people feel?

Since the whole “couples fight a lot about money” statement is frequently bandied about-shouldn’t an evaluation of financial compatibility also include a realistic assessment of whether or not you’re willing to live on the income projected for your mate’s career (along with whether or not you envision the same financial future).

Also, it seems women are often the targets of the “golddigging” meme-what about high income female professionals. My female classmates had about a 99% hit rate for only dating/marrying other super-well educated professionals, which other than teachers/academics, usually corresponded to salary. Are you still a golddigger if you make a lot of money yourself?

I’m curious to know what everyone’s perspective is on this.

Sort of. Financial savvy and responsibility are more important than bringing a load of cash to the table to begin with. My wife was raised wealthy but she isn’t spoiled at all in the conventional sense of the word. She does demand a rather nice lifestyle but she is fully prepared to work and save for those things. She was also raised with an odd cheap streak compliments of her father. She wants luxury things but always finds a way to get them at a discount. We have separate finances and she is aggressive with all investments and has done well above average (I have checked several times) over most professionals through the years.

I would not want a housewife however. It would not mesh with my personality in any way and I believe that all people over age 18 (or 16) need their own source of income at all times unless dictated by disability. Money smarts are one of my most valued traits for people in general.

I wouldn’t care if my wife was a schoolteacher or a nurse however. They make decent money at least around here. A dual nurse couple could make 120K easily which is nothing to sneeze at. Combine that with money smarts and everything should work well. I would take the lower earner who is good with money over the rich one who is careless and flaunts it.

I think an understanding of your financial situation and a willingness to work for what you have is more important than the actual dollar amounts. I used to date guys that didn’t work, didn’t have any intention of living off their own power. My husband doesn’t make a lot of money, but he’s responsible and taught me a lot about living within a modest-to-middle-class budget. It’s all about attitude.

For me, I don’t think it’s the money so much as having someone who’s more or less my equal in terms of education and ambition, and whose spending and saving habits are fairly similar to my own. I wouldn’t mind if my boyfriend was making less, as long as he had a good job he enjoyed and that provided him with enough money to do his thing. I don’t know that I could find myself comfortably in a relationship with a convenience-store clerk. Maybe I could, but I feel like there’d always be a part of me wondering why he didn’t try for something better. It’s not so much gold-digging as success-digging, I guess, and for me success isn’t necessarily measured in gold.

I think most of the money-related fights in relationships are about spending versus saving - if one person thinks every extra penny should be pumped into the kids’ college fund, but the other thinks they should be allowed a nice family vacation once a year, there will be problems.

Does money matter to me in a mate? Well, that’s a pretty vague question. When I married my hubby, he was making an okay salary, and so was I. We could get the bills paid. That was important. When he got hired by the state and made much better money, I quit my job to be a SAHM (as we had agreed upon previously). About four years ago, he struck out on his own, in the scary world of self-employment (also agreed upon before he did it) and after two years of making pretty good money that way, he lost two major clients. For over a year, we were very tight for money. We didn’t fight about money, but both of us were stressed over the state of our finances, and I can see how it would be very, very hard for a relationship to survive that if the relationship wasn’t very strong to begin with. A little more than a year ago, he started a new job, and earns twice as much a year as he ever did when he was self-employed, so things are much better financially.

I tell you all of this so you understand where I’m coming from. I don’t think having a mate that makes a lot of money is so important; the important things are: having enough money (between the two of us) to get the bills paid, and knowing that he is either working up to his potential, or is working on working up to his potential. My hubby is a very smart guy. It would bother me a lot if he was doing a low-paying job that we were barely scraping by on, just because it was easy.

So, it’s not so much money that’s important as financial outlook, and financial compatibility.

To some extent, people pair off with people similar in regards to education and income potential. The broad-brush goes along the lines of men being more willing to “marry down” than women.

The “gold-digger” bit usually applies to a woman who is 1)Marrying up markedly in economic terms, and 2)who is marrying primarily for money, not feelings.

I sort of fall out here as well. I think I might have a problem being a single income source on any sort of permanent basis. I’m not sure there is an entirely rational reason for that, but honestly it might make me uncomfortable - I was always raised in working class, multi-income environments. A likely exception would be some temporary or goal-oriented reason, like a few years while someone went to graduate school or the like.

Otherwise though, I don’t think I would ever sweat income disparities. Between making a decent ( though not lavish ) income myself, being easily entertained and having an almost utter lack of ambition :p, I can’t imagine even the most infinitesimal second income dragging me down to the point where I was seriously unhappy.

Shared values and other compatability issues easily trump economics for me by a pretty huge margin.

Edited to add:

Could be, but only if they were hunting for even more ( or for some other intangible like “power” ) in lieu of actual love. One of the best marriages I know has an executive wife that makes ~4x her husband’s quite meager journalism salary. Works just fine for them.

  • Tamerlane

I’ve composed and deleted several posts where I complained about my husband’s attitude toward money. Or more particularly, his attitude toward “my” money and “his” money.

It’s the attitude that’s important. If finances are separate and bills are shared, it works best if both partners are equally generous. We’re not, and I haven’t figured what, if anything, to do about it.

I know someone always has a touching anecdote like this and I’m sure there are many…but my experience is that most men cannot handle a woman making 4x what they make. It’s either the same range or lower. There usually has to be some sort of compensating factor to make up for the income that they bring up to deal with it…like “we’re as well educated, but your profession simply pays more.” This is generally how I saw the Ph.ds deal with the fact that their lawyer wives are making triple their salary straight out of school.

I would agree strongly with this.

But sometimes no matter how good your savings habits, you have more flexibility on a larger income. My brother-in-law’s income varies since he’s an entrepreneur and most years he makes in the 6 figures…but he can take bigger risks with his business because of my sister’s medical career to back them up. That’s a way bigger safety net than if she was in a profession that paid less.

I get what you are saying (and this is my outlook as well)…but education and ambition often corresponds to projectable levels of income. In law school I heard this refrain quite often from women…“I want someone as educated as I am” (I’ll admit to falling in this camp). But aren’t we kidding ourselves? The majority of people with graduate degrees are going to have very decent incomes. So when you say you want someone whose ambition and values towards education matches your own, aren’t you really saying you want someone who makes X amount of money??

I think your premise is wrong. I know a lot of teachers with masters degree (high school English/Art/History/etc.) I know people with masters degrees in Biology. And I know people who are plumbers. Plumbers, IME, uniformly outearn people with fairly liberal arts master’s degrees - like education. And a plumbers who own their own business (and carpenters, electricians, bricklayers, car mechanics, etc.)…

Now, there may be other reasons than income potential why someone with a masters might be more attracted to someone with a masters - even if it is in Comparative Literature. A good liberal arts education makes for an interesting person - particularly to someone who also has a good education.

But financially, I expect any partner to be able to support himself and his own habits - financially and also maintenance wise. I know people married to dog people who have to do the poopy scooping for their husband’s dog - no different than having to write the checks to feed the dog because he won’t hold a job. Marriage is a partnership - and the partnership may decide one spouse should stay home and not have a job, or the partnership may need to have one spouse home while ill. But having one spouse unilaterailly decide that the other spouse should support them - not my thing.

Obviously I can’t speak for everyone, but in my case, I honestly do mean that I want someone with ambition and education. I need to be constantly working towards something; I always have a goal. A promotion, a course to take, that sort of thing. I’m happy with what I am but I always want to do a little better because I know there’s probably a little more left in me. I could never be with someone who’s decided “yup, this is it, I know all I’ll ever want to know and I never want to do more than I"m doing now”.

I realize that in most cases, money tends to follow success as I’ve defined it. When you’re happy in your career and you know you can excel by putting in that little bit more, you can’t really help but do well enough financially. But it’s not a dollar value. Not for me, anyway.

It takes a certain amount of determination, intelligence, responsibility, etc to get a degree. I suspect that’s more the goal of most people making that statement. Someone who has put forth the effort to get a bachelors degree won’t be a match for someone who’s content to stock shelves at Wal-Mart.

Yessssss…I addressed this in my first point. Husband is content making less because he’s as well educated as wife, but is simply in a profession that pays less. Nevertheless, and I know you are fond of pointing out you know a lawyer who makes nothing…someone with a degree from a top notch law, medical, business & academic program (esp. a field like engineering or pharmacology) IS going to make, on average, decent bank, very steadily, right away, without having to grow his own business. If you own your own business you can always make more…and also a lot less. The median salary for a plumber in the US according to this site is in the high 30s Average Plumber’s Salary. The average salary of a graduate of someone from my own alma mater, in non-profit, is higher than that. Cite. I made more than that on my honors clerkship for the feds.

Also, teachers in my town in massachusetts earned something like 80K after they got tenure etc…

I know that anyone working in a construction-related occupation as a journeyman in Calgary is making salaries to rival doctors and lawyers. The entry-level construction jobs are paying more than $30k per year. Those 30k plumbers need to come here and make some decent money.

I think money does matter in a mate, and this thread is really demonstrating how complex an equation that is - money, ambition, success, work ethic, risk-taking, negotiation, compromise - those are all touched on in the money in a relationship question. I agree with those who say that the bottom line is compatibility in all these things. My husband and I are basically compatible on money and work matters; we’re just enough different to offset each other’s weaknesses (I tend to scrimp and never spend, and my husband tends to spend a touch carelessly - he keeps me from being a miser, and I keep him from too many frivolous impulse purchases).

That pretty much sums up my viewpoint, thanks for stating it so succintly. I’m still wondering why people act like you’re not supposed to be thinking about it, though. Oh, and as soon as I get my degree in Pipery I am moving to Calgary. See you soon featherlou!!!

(actually, of the professions I ACTUALLY want to go into rather than the one I’m wallowing in…locksmith is pretty high up on the list, my father is a genius at breaking/entering and picking locks and I seem to have inherited his skill, which is good because we’re both always locking ourselves out, the only reason we are so good at it*…)

*Qualifying so I don’t get mod wrath. We only break and enter into our own homes, or when our friends lock themselves out of theirs.

Because we’re not supposed to believe that a person’s income or wealth means anything about their character. But, as featherlou pointed out, it can, particularly when we look at money as a proxy for other characteristics, like intelligence, ambition, education, etc. It’s not a particularly good proxy, though, which is why we don’t use it much. There’s also something unseemly about a person who only wants to “marry money.” In this day and age, no matter who you are, you ought to be able to go out there and earn it for yourself if you want it.

anu, you know what I do and you know the ballpark of salaries for the type of work I do. I saw your thread earlier and started thinking about my female colleagues who are married/engaged. For the most part, their spouses are lower-wage earners. In fact, outside of the older female partners (whose husbands are almost invariably partners in other firms), most of the women lawyers I work with who are married or engaged are with a man who isn’t a lawyer and who isn’t in a high paying profession. Several teachers, in fact, as well as a musician, a computer tech, and a bunch of other pretty random professions.

I suspect that’s pretty normal; out of the men in my “generation” (i.e., not the older male partners, whose spouses tend to be either doctors or stay-at-homes), most of the men are married to a woman who makes significantly less.

I wouldn’t care about how much a man makes, except to the extent that he’s going to be uncomfortable when he finds out how much I make. If he can’t deal with that, then there’s probably going to be a lot he won’t be able to deal with about me (my work hours, my impatience, etc.).

My brother, the self-appointed expert on gold-diggers, says no.

I don’t really care. About income and status anyway. I might have a problem with someone who had money issues like maxing out credit cards or gambling or feelings of inferiority due to their income. But if someone has a healthy attitude / relationship with money and just happens not to have any, but still can support themselves at at least a basic level, I wouldn’t mind.

I have a wide circle of friends, although we don’t really talk about it I know we’re on a variety of different pay scales etc but it doesn’t matter as we’re in it for the company rather than the finances. The only time it bothers me with friends is when I know they are in financial difficulties and yet they still try to keep up with what everyone else is doing.

As for my relationship, 'im indoors earns far more than I do but it’s not something that really bothers us. The house is paid for so there are no mortgage worries, we each have our own utility bills to pay and things kind of even out along the way somehow. Obviously I have to budget more carefully than he does, but we still manage to do all that we want to.

I don’t want to hijack the thread, but the subject of “whose money is whose” is something a friend of mine struggles with all the time. Her husband makes nearly $100K and she makes…well…Blockbuster money. She has to make her car payment and insurance payment and buy groceries, gas, etc. He pays the mortgage, two or three car/bike paymets, insurance, utilities, etc. They are most definitely a “separate finances” couple and to me, it’s a power thing. They’ve been like this for over 20 years, but it doesn’t sit right with her or me.

Mr. K and I are about equal in financial power. But more importantly, we don’t look at it as separate money. We both contribute, we make financial decisions together, we both have access to all our money, and we are both free to spend the leftovers on whatever we want. I believe that would be the same if we didn’t make the same amount of money.

Not really adding anything new here, but I don’t care how much money someone makes beyond wanting someone who’s financially independent, and that’s just because I only date, ya know, grownups. Having seen far too many people left in a bad situation by being too dependent on someone else’s income, I’m a bit fanatical about living within MY means, so I’ve never really taken net worth into account when choosing an SO.

For me, it’s more about having similar attitudes toward money. People tend to treat the making and spending of money as a moral issue, and in my experience a saver and a spender aren’t going to be happy together no matter how much money they have, if either of them is the least bit judgmental about the other’s habits.