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Financial stability trumps good looks for millennials seeking love, survey says

Poll finds financial, property goals more important than attractiveness when it comes to dating. Here are three ways millennials can align their money and romance goals.

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millennial couple looking at financial papers while sitting on stairs of their home“In the world of finance, likes attract likes,” says professional matchmaker Carmelia Ray. “[Millennials] tend to gravitate and want to date someone in a similar lifestyle and economical background.” (Getty Images/sturti)

When looking for a romantic partner, millennials should consider their financial well-being, and plan accordingly, financial and dating experts say.

It’s a shared sentiment amongst this generation, according to a recent HSBC-sponsored annual survey—Beyond the Bricks—which explores how Canadians feel about home ownership. The survey found that 61 per cent of millennials are feeling anxious about buying property, with financial and property goals more important than attractiveness when dating. 

“Looking for a partner who has stable finances, that’s just a responsible relationship pursuit and should come before physical attributes,” says Bridget Casey, founder of Calgary-based Money After Graduation, a financial literacy resource for young professionals. “Your looks are going fade in 10, 15 or 20 years, but hopefully your bank account will grow in that time.” 

So, what should millennials take into consideration in the quest for love and financial security? Experts weigh in on how this generation’s priorities can shape this journey.

1) KEEP FINANCIAL EXPECTATIONS IN CHECK

Millennials aren’t following in their parents’ footsteps like previous generations did, points out Casey. With soaring housing costs, stagnant wages, irregular employment (gig work) and mounting debt, they are holding off on getting married and starting families until their careers are launched, or businesses are off the ground, adds relationship expert Shannon Tebb, founder of Shanny in the City

“Things are happening later for them [millennials]…their priorities have shifted,” she says. “Nowadays if they don’t like their job, they learn to walk away. They are fearless…they are risk-takers.”

Those who are raising families are juggling hefty expenses, including mortgage payments and daycare costs. A recent Transunion report states that millennial household debt—beyond mortgages—reached parity with that of baby boomers in the second quarter of 2019. “They [millennials] are so much more cash-strapped than the boomer or gen-Xers were,” says Casey. “They are more aware of the impact of their finances because their budgets are so limited.”

These circumstances naturally influence their choice of partner, and financial plan, says Casey. She suggests millennials weigh their options and think about the long-term when choosing a partner, while considering their own financial well-being, now and down the line.

“When that infatuation phase wears off after the first one or two years and you actually have to build a life together, if your finances aren’t aligned, that can put a lot of strain on the relationship,” she says. 

2) STAY FLEXIBLE 

Millennials’ professional expectations also impact how they select a mate, says professional matchmaker Carmelia Ray. Flexibility is key. As budding entrepreneurs or striving employees, millennials are demanding less rigid work hours, the ability to work remotely from anywhere and freedom to undertake several jobs at once.

“In the world of finance, likes attract likes,” says Ray. “[Millennials] tend to gravitate and want to date someone in a similar lifestyle and economical background.” 

Address financial expectations early, suggests Ray, but remain open if a potential partner who is a match in other ways doesn’t meet all of your expectations. 

“It narrows and limits their opportunities when they [millennials] are very strict and completely inflexible…Where they are not even going to consider somebody, who is a 99.9 per cent match on every level except that one criterion,” she says.

Take note of your date’s spending habits to gauge their financial behaviour and when you decide to have the financial conversation, remain calm and come prepared by knowing what you need to ask and exactly how to ask it, she says.   

“It’s never easy to approach a sensitive topic,” she says. “Those logical questions that need to come up, and will come up, as you date somebody, you should bring those things up in advance.”

3) STRIVE FOR INDEPENDENCE 

Living independently, personally and financially, is also important for millennials, adds Tebb. 

“These singles are self-starters…they’ve reached their work goals and are saving up financially,” she says.   

According to a 2017 report from the Ontario Securities Commission—Missing Out: Millennials and the Markets—four out of five millennials are saving, while paying off debt and home ownership are top financial priorities. Meanwhile, in the Beyond the Bricks survey, 14 per cent of millennials stated that accepting money from parents for the purchase of a home was big source of tension. 

“Millennials are working harder—even those who are from wealthy families—they don’t want people to look at them and think mom and dad helped them along the way. They want to do it independently,” says Tebb.

The pursuit for independence, Tebb says, translates directly into millennials’ romantic lives. She recommends looking beyond the pocketbook and seeing a partner’s growth potential, which could lead to financial prosperity down the line. 

“It’s more about how you are on the inside, your mindset, your personal growth and development that’s going to make you a better partner,” she says. “I think millennials have tapped into that way more than we [previous generations] did back then.”

GET ON THE SAME PAGE 

Debunk the myths about your millennial staff, uncover their real expectations, and find tips on how to retain their talent with CPA Canada’s video course, the Materiality of Millennials. Find out how to meet the financial needs of your millennial clients with CPA Canada’s Millennials and money: Tips for CPAs.