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Are You Dating a Cheapskate?

(How to Deal)

Your new relationship is going great, until you notice a troubling trend. Your significant other seems to be “forgetting” their wallet a lot. They constantly comment on how expensive things are and keep track of every penny you spend on each other. For your birthday, you get a 2-for-1 Groupon dinner. And if they bother to tip at all, it’s usually far below 10%.

Yup, you might be dating a cheapskate. If your partner’s money habits are bothering you, it’s definitely worth having the talk now. The financial stuff will only get more complex in the future, especially if you take the plunge and move in together.


The point when frugal becomes cheap is subjective — so what looks stingy to you might seem fine to your sweetie. There’s nothing wrong with getting a good deal or making an effort to save money. Picking an affordable restaurant for date night? Great. Stiffing the waiter on their tip? Not cool. There’s also a difference between choosing to be cheap versus simply not having the money. Make sure you’re not expecting more than your partner can afford.

It’s best to tread lightly when discussing money for the first time. Sometimes what you view as cheapness could actually be a learned habit from your partner’s parents. They might not even realize they’re being stingy. So, tell your significant other what you are seeing and hearing them do and why it bothers you. Then just listen.


Whether it’s clothes, cars, repairs, hotels or food — the cheapest option usually is the lowest quality. If your significant other automatically chooses the lowest cost regardless of the consequences, it would be worth discussing short-term cost versus long-term value.

Higher-quality materials and craftsmanship often mean that things are better made, last longer and require less to repair and maintain over time. There is value in having nice things and spending more for amenities when it matters. This is ultimately a line you and your significant other will have to set for yourselves.


Some people value experiences over things. They might not see the point in spending money on gifts or lavish meals. Other people treasure thoughtful gifts and appreciate the effort that goes into fine dining. Neither of these points of view is wrong — it’s just a difference of perspective. The more you and your partner learn about each other’s money personalities, the better you can support each other now and in the future.

But if your significant other refuses to go on group dates just to avoid splitting the tab, or if you end up ruining your favorite shoes because you had to walk 10 blocks from the car to the restaurant rather than pay for valet, you might need to point out how your partner’s decisions are affecting you. Give them a chance to see it from your perspective and be prepared to listen to their response. After all, that’s what relationships are all about, right?

As always, we’ve got your back. — The On Your Own Team End of article insignia

[Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by On Your Own, the National Endowment for Financial Education or any of its affiliate programs.]