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The Dating and Money Conversation for Medical Students

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Honey, We Need to Talk … About Finances!

By Rick Kahler MS CFP® http://www.KahlerFinancial.com

Rick Kahler CFPWe are al aware of the student debt load crisis in this country.

But, one of the challenges at the beginning of a romantic relationship is having “the conversation” about an equally important issue for any couple: money.

Even more so for medical students, interns, residents, nurses, young doctors and medical professionals!

For example:

  1. What is okay to ask a potential partner about money, and when?
  2. How do you bring the subject up without seeming like a braggart, a coldhearted miser, or someone looking for a meal ticket?

There really ought to be some rules of etiquette for exploring this essential topic; something like, “by the sixth date, it’s appropriate to start undressing financially.” Unfortunately, we don’t have such guidelines.

The Money Minefield

Money is a topic fraught with emotional richness. In other words, it’s a minefield. Money is one of the top sources of conflict for couples, so if you’re dating, it’s crucial to learn a potential partner’s earnings, net worth, money habits, and financial beliefs. At the same time, talking specifically about money is so forbidden in our culture that we have no idea how to initiate a conversation about it.

Here are a few suggestions that might help:

1. Figure out your own money beliefs first. Before you even sign up with a dating site or accept your friend’s offer to set you up with her brother-in-law’s second cousin, think about what you want and need financially from a partner. Do you care if someone’s net worth is much higher or lower than yours? Is a certain level of debt a deal-breaker? What lifestyle are you comfortable with?

2. Tell before you ask. Begin with appropriate self-disclosure, in small steps, about your earnings, your long-term financial goals, or your beliefs about debt or spending. See how potential partners react. If they don’t disclose in turn, seem very uncomfortable with the conversation, or have beliefs or money habits much different from yours, you may be seeing red flags.

3. Observe. Watch how people handle money. Are there any patterns around spending or the use of credit cards that seem to indicate either overspending or excessive frugality? Do they throw cash around, or do they leave restaurant tips that Ebenezer Scrooge would be proud of?

Does someone’s home show signs of hoarding or stinginess? (A candlelight dinner of takeout Chinese at a card table is one thing for college students, but quite another for middle-aged professionals.) Do their cars or houses seem poorly maintained? Does their lifestyle seem more lavish than the typical earnings in their career field would support?

4. Listen. Despite the taboo on talking directly about money, we indirectly reveal a lot about our money beliefs by what we say. Notice how dates talk about saving or spending. Do they seem worried about money or reluctant to spend it even on basic needs? Do they seem angry about money or resentful of successful people? Do they boast about financial successes, things they own, or get-rich-quick schemes?

5. Ask. Even if everything else is all moonlight and roses. When you meet someone who seems like “the one,” don’t set aside everything that matters to you about money. Instead, remember how important this issue is to the long-term health of a relationship. Even if you can’t do it gracefully, ask the money questions. Talk frankly about debt, spending, saving for retirement, and each other’s expectations around lifestyles and careers.

Dating Currency


Being the one to initiate that difficult money conversation doesn’t mean you’re coldhearted, unromantic, or greedy. It simply means you recognize that money is too important a topic to ignore. When we enter into a romantic relationship, it’s tempting to think that love means not having to talk about money. In truth, love means having the courage to talk about money.


Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com


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One Response

  1. New Program Takes Aim at Doctors’ Student Debt, U.S. Opioid Crisis

    A new federal program is a win-win for both doctors weighed down by education debt and patients in underserved communities looking for help with their addictions.

    The latest program from the NationalHealth Service Corps (NHSC) is offering doctors up to $75,000 in loan repayment funds in exchange for a three-year commitment to work in a clinic to offer opioid addiction treatment in underserved areas.

    NHSC, a program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), provides scholarships and student loan repayment to healthcare clinicians in return for their service in communities in need.

    Joanne Finnegan
    Fierce Practice Management [1/24/19]
    via Ann Miller RN MHA


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