Four Money Questions to Ask on the First Date

When you’re ready to settle down, identifying a compatible person will be important. Money, from how it affects you emotionally to what your salary aspirations are, is often a primary factor in how well you will get along.

If you’re not on the same page as the other person financially, it may cause unnecessary conflicts in the short- and long-term.

According to a 2024 Fidelity Investments Couples and Money study, 45% of partners saying they argue about money at least occasionally.

Although eliminating financial discord entirely isn’t likely, you can reduce the number and intensity of such conflicts by sharing information early.

With these four questions developed by Matt Watson, the Boston-based founder and CEO of Origin Financial, a financial conversation and money management app, you can get started on the right foot from the very first date.

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1. What Was Your Relationship With Money When You Were Growing Up?

Introducing a question about the past can give you key insight into how the other person developed the financial habits they have today. What they learned about money as a child can follow them long into the future.

Ask about what living with their parents or caregivers was like economically. Was there financial stress, or a sense of security? Were there arguments about bills or did they collaborate on problem solving? Introduce the topic, asking if they were kept in the dark about money or if they actively learned how to budget and build wealth. Share your own experiences and what you gained from them.

[Related:How to Talk About Money With Family — And Why It’s Important]

“A lot of these attitudes are formed at a really young age,” Watson says. “Are you a saver or a spender — are you more career oriented, desire life experiences, want to retire early? These questions break down barriers.”

2. What Is Your Relationship With Money Now?

The natural follow-up to the first question is a conversation about their current positive or negative feelings about money.

“You don’t have to ask this in a pointed way, but you do want to know,” says Watson. “This is about sharing and understanding values.”

For example, you might mention that your favorite thing to do with money is save and shop for luxury items you couldn’t afford when you were younger, travel on the cheap or invest and watch your money grow because it makes you feel secure. Find out what your date enjoys and discuss it.

“You want to get to know the person’s relationship with money, so ask ‘If you didn’t have to work, how would you spend your time?'” Watson suggests. “You’re trying to get to the root about what motivates them, what they’ve chosen to do with their life and their career and where they want to go.”

This dialogue will give you an idea of what your life together could look like.

3. What’s Your Annual Income?

When you are serious about finding your best mate, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to know how much your date earns from the get-go. You’re probably curious — and for good reason.

If you do decide to get married, your combined salary should be sufficient to meet both of your needs and wants. And if you’re eager to start a family you may have some additional financial planning in your future.

“If you ask this out of the gate it can be a turn off,” Watson says. “But you do want to know where someone is today.”

Although you may not need to get the exact figure on the first date, a general idea will be helpful. Consider prompting this question with details about your own job.

For example, you may start with a statement like, “I love being a medical sales representative because it’s really interesting and the pay is great. It was exciting to finally reach the $120,000 mark this year. Tell me more about what you do.” At that stage, you can dive deeper into the salary subject.

4. What’s Your Target Annual Income?

Now it’s time to get into the future.

Perhaps your date says they are fulfilled working for a nonprofit organization as a social worker and they live in Nashville, Tennessee. If so, you may find they earn around $25 an hour. That’s wonderful, but if you’re hoping to purchase a home in Los Angeles – an expensive housing market – soon after getting married, you may come up short on funds. Consequently, you’ll have to figure out how you can make it happen, adjust your goals or move on.

“You’re trying to unpack each other’s long-term motivations, but this is a two-way street,” Watson says. “While you’re asking these questions, remember that it’s not an interrogation; it’s a conversation to help you determine if this person is a match.”

Also, keep in mind that the responses to the salary questions that both of you share can change, especially when you’re young.

“You may be incredibly career-oriented in your 20s, but become more family focused in your 30s,” says Watson. “This just helps you understand compatibility now.”

[Related:How to Build Wealth in Your 20s and 30s]

Be a Storyteller, Not an Inquisitor

Erika Wasserman, a certified financial therapist from South Florida and developer of the conversation deck of cards Let’s Talk Finances, Couples Edition, says she agrees with the line of questioning but urges caution. Not everyone will embrace such discussions with enthusiasm.

“For some, being asked detailed questions about their finances on a first date is a turn off, but for others it’s a turn on,” says Wasserman, who suggests turning them into softball questions with a storytelling technique.

“For instance, if you’re at a restaurant you may want to talk about the items on the menu,” Wasserman says. “Ask your date if they were from the ‘you can only order water family’ when they were a kid.”

If you were, mention how that made you feel and if it still influences your spending decisions. To this day, you may still consider ordering beverages an indulgence even though you can afford them, for example.

As you chat, Wasserman says to be alert for key words.

“You can learn so much about the other person on a first date,” she says. “If they use the words ‘all,’ ‘none,’ ‘never,’ and ‘always’ about money in a negative way, they may not feel in control of their financial destiny.”

Keep the Open Conversation Flowing

If there’s a connection and you do move forward with the person, make sure to maintain honest financial conversations. After all, finances will feature in all stages of your life, so constant communication along the way is essential.

One of the most common reason couples break up is over conflict about money, Wasserman says.

However, talking about personal financial matters can be taboo. “Practice having these conversations with your friends. You’ll get better at it. It’s important. If you don’t talk about money with your partner, the more likely you are to have relationship problems.”

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Four Money Questions to Ask on the First Date originally appeared on

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