My friend Mindy, a 42-year-old single mom, recently started dating Brad whom she met on a dating site. They chatted for a bit, flirted online, and agreed to meet in person.
For all intents and purposes, it seemed like a done deal.
“I have a good feeling about this,” Mindy thought. After all, Brad’s profile said that he was a firefighter and helped out at the Little League in his area.
Plus, his (already extremely flattering) photo featured Brad’s pet Labrador, which, in Mindy’s opinion, was the deal-clincher for her.
And right from the get-go, they seemed to hit it off well. The food was great, the drinks were flowing, and the sparks were definitely flying.
Less than an hour into the date, Mindy knew the chemistry was undeniable. She was sure Brad was a good fit.
Then, the bill came.
Mindy was fully expecting Brad to say something like, “Don’t worry about it, I got it…”
But after nervously eyeing the check – and exchanging glances at each other – Mindy broke the awkward silence (which felt like forever) by asking, "Can I chip in?"
Looking relieved, Brad said, “Oh, if you’re ok that, then I can cover my half. Thanks!”
Although Mindy felt a slight twinge of annoyance, she ended up splitting the bill with him.
Since then, they’ve gone out a couple more times, but Mindy’s been on the fence about the whole thing. This was when she came to me, asking for my take on the situation.
Mindy told me, “On our second date, he told me that he’d just had his car fixed, which was why he was relieved when I offered to split the bill.”
Mindy added, "And the good news was that he paid for everything straight away without waiting for me to chime in."
“BUT here’s the thing,” she said, with a hint of disappointment in her voice, “He kinda went back to his ‘old ways’ on our third date…”
“See, he *did* pick up the bill that time, BUT he had that SAME look on his face from our first date… you know, that ‘please help me out’ look…”
Mindy finished with a sigh, saying, “Everything would’ve been great if it wasn’t for this whole bill fiasco… I mean, is it even an issue to begin with?”
So this is what I told her:
“Personally, I think he should have gotten the bill on the first date since he was the one who asked you out. I mean, even if you did offer to split it, he should’ve insisted on paying – that's just how dating goes.”
“But the fact that he tried to make up for it by getting the bill AFTER that is a good sign.”
“And you did know he's not exactly a millionaire, to begin with, so maybe that was why he acted the way he did on your first and third dates."
"I know a lot of guys who are jumpy around the issue of money.
.. and many of them have this fear that women just see them for how much they make - and not much beyond that.”
Then I said, “If the way he acts with the bill is too much for you, then you’d best move on…”
“OR, you could also consider all of his wonderful qualities and give him another chance to see how it goes.”
“If he really turns out to be a chronic cheapskate, well, then at least you tried.”
Like Mindy, a lot of women don't have the leverage to decide how to proceed with a similar situation.
When they’re lacking financial independence, it can really throw a wrench in their dating lives…
…not to mention their relationships.
Let me put it this way: in an ideal world (i.e., one where money isn’t an issue)…
…a woman can bring out her purse when the bill comes, then wait for the guy to make the first move (as he should).
And if he offers to pay, she can thank him with a smile, and wrap things up.
BUT if he doesn’t offer to pay, she should be able to help out – and actually MEAN it.
And if he DOES take up her offer, she can pay her share with NO hard feelings.
Later on, she can figure out if the whole was just a miscommunication…
…or if his behavior displayed red flags of actual cheapness.
Either way, it’s wise to be in a good position no matter what the outcome is – and financial independence is the BEST way to do that.
And in case things DO get serious, being able to pay for your own stuff is a good foundation for the relationship - and creates a healthy dynamic between you two.
But what do I mean by that, exactly?
Well, here are three ways financial independence (FI) sets the right precedent in a relationship:
According to financial experts, it’s better for someone to be financially independent BEFORE getting into a relationship.
That’s because it makes for a smoother and less painful transition (financially speaking) for everyone involved. There’s noticeably less tension about expenses or with discussions about who pays which bill.
And if both people in the relationship gets to decide how to spend their money, that means fewer arguments.
Like I said, a couple won’t be getting into fights about the stuff they buy for themselves.
If both of them are making enough so they can split the expenses equally (or at the very least, agree on a fair arrangement)…
…then they're free to buy whatever they want on their dime.
That means no petty squabbles about the boyfriend’s (or husband’s) taste for classic vinyl records, or the girlfriend’s (or wife’s) love of designer shoes.
As long as it doesn’t affect their savings - or way of life - then they’ll probably be ok with the other person’s spending habits.
Generally speaking, couples who aren’t dependent on each other get to maintain their individual identities.
What I mean is that in a financially stable relationship, people can relate and behave towards each other on EQUAL terms.
So that means a couple can focus on being there for each other and growing together...
...without dealing with the unnecessary stress of money-related issues.
And being financially independent means you wouldn’t have to go through the same drama that Mindy did.
Like comedian Chris Rock says, “Wealth is not about having a lot of money - it's about having a lot of options.”
And FI gives you three options when you're on a date:
So either way, you're good.
Whether you want to keep dating a guy - or keep looking elsewhere…
…you know that your decision is coming from a place of independence - and NOT neediness.
Now, as much as I’d like to talk more about the how-to’s of financial independence, that’s a whole other topic…
But I will say that the world’s wealthiest folks have something in common.
It’s not being born with money, looks, or talent.
It’s about HABITS.
Thomas C. Corley, a prominent author and financial authority, spent five years of his life studying the habits of almost 200 self-made millionaires.
And he says that habits separate the rich from everybody else. According to him, the things that we do subconsciously make up 40 PERCENT of our waking hours.
That’s a HUGE amount of time spent on doing things - and making decisions - on AUTO-PILOT.
When you think about it, habits are nothing more than mental shortcuts which help us quickly make a bunch of decisions throughout the day.
That way, we don’t use up too much brain energy and willpower.
So, much of our financial independence (or lack thereof) is HEAVILY influenced by our subconscious decision-making skills.
And for anyone looking to improve their financial situation, all they need to do is optimize their subconscious money habits.
But you might be thinking, “Well, habits take a LONG time to develop.”
Well, I’m happy to say that that’s really not the case – not anymore, at least.
You see, there is a way to encode "rich people habits" directly to the subconscious – without having to spend months or years doing so.
And once you start acting, thinking, and behaving like a wealthy person…
…then it’s only a matter of time before the reality of your financial situation catches up with your habits.