Post # 1
Longtime lurker, first time poster!
I need some advice. FI and I have been together for 6 years, and engaged to be married next July. Long story short, we met while we attended the same law school. Even though I left after a semester with the realization that a career in law was just not the best fit for ME, FI stayed and finished three years later (he did a joint MBA/law degree). Since I was on a scholarship, I exited law school with a very small amount of debt (approximately $10k), which is paid off at this point. My FI, however, graduated law school with close to $300k. We both make great money…our combined income is around $200k or so annually. This doesn’t even include the commissions I make as a medical device sales rep. While this would be a king’s ransom if we didn’t have his debt to deal with, after all that is said and done, he has NO money leftover each month. His student loan payments are astronomical ($2500k/month), in addition to all of his other living expenses (rent, car, gas/food, etc.). We also live in CA with a high income tax and cost of living. He has over $20k in credit card debt, owes $3k to various creditors/collections agencies and owes me $1k as of right now, all of which he makes payments towards every month. His credit score is currently a 531 and mine is a 770. I have money in savings, retirement accounts and no debt. We are financial opposites to the extreme. We also have very different philosophies – he is all about instant gratification and while I like to splurge on things now and then, I’m pretty frugal. While I am not discounting anything from marriage and how wonderful it is, it’s also very much a financial partnership. And I feel like I’m going into business with a sinking ship! He doesn’t keep track of his money, consistently overdraws his checking account, and very much lives paycheck to paycheck. In addition to paying for our wedding out of my OWN pocket (my parents don’t have the financial means to contribute, and I am happy to pay for our wedding…really), I’m also put in the uncomfortable position to lend him money when he can’t afford to cover his own expenses, like car repair or a deposit on a new apartment.
I’m very tired of fighting and the chronic stress over his financial issues, and I resent being placed in the position of being his financial advisor AND fiancée. I’m chronically stressed out over being the sole safety net we have, or worrying how we’ll ever afford a house or children, two things that are very important to me. These are things that I don’t feel I should have to worry about going into a marriage. I basically have come to the conclusion that the only way I see this and US working at all is I manage EVERYTHING from now on. I pay his bills and I’ll give him his own allowance after what’s leftover…or else I don’t think I can marry him without going insane or broke.
Any thoughts? Am I being unreasonable?
Post # 3
@mysticbeez: if he is in agreement with you managing his finances it could work well. does he admit he is not good at managing it?
Post # 4
He claims to not see the point of me managing his money since he doesn’t have ANY! I honestly think he views me acting as some sort of bill payer as a mild privacy invasion. Which I kind of get, but if he can’t manage his to pay his own bills, what does he expect?
Post # 5
@mysticbeez: You are not being unreasonable. This will sound harsh, but I would seriously rethink getting married (at least for now).
My parents divorced largely due to my dad’s spending habits. My mom was left with pretty much nothing.. and they were married close to 30 years. I dated a guy when I was younger who wasn’t good with money… it was nerve-wracking to say the least, and I was sick of everything always being a promise, no vacations, no money to do anything, and his constant whining about it (but doing nothing to change).
If your guy has a joint law/business degree he must be pretty smart so I am not saying to just cut him loose… but he needs to realize how this is impacting your relationship and your future. He needs to do what it takes to get his spending in order. It’s possible he’s so upset about the debt that he has a ‘screw it, I’ll never get out of debt so might as well spend’ kind of attitude, but that is no good. He knowingly got himself into 300K worth of debt.
Nothing wrong with one person managing the finances, but no, you shouldn’t feel like you need to be his financial advisor (and it sounds like it’s falling on deaf ears anyway). I don’t know what specific steps he needs to get his ass into gear, but it has to happen BEFORE you commit. For your own sanity. He will only change if he wants to. If you haven’t you need to make it crystal clear that this is a dealbreaker for you.
Post # 6
I would have major issues if my SO wasn’t good with his money. Granted, I’m helping him navigate the world of car loans and CDs and how to save for goals while paying down student debt, but he knows what he makes, doesn’t spend more than he can afford, and doesn’t put things on credit unless that money’s in the bank. He’s got 40k in student loans, but he’s paid off about 10k in the last year alone, and this is on a 25k salary. He has a plan, he saves, and he knows that our goals for the future (babies/home) will cost money, adn getting debt free and upping our savings will allow us to do that.
ETA: Student loans are a necessary evil. But the credit card debt your SO has, loans in collections, and taking money from you? That’s something that was avoidable.
I would take your SO to a financial counselor!
Post # 7
The biggest issue in many relationships is money. While money can’t buy you love/happiness, it unfortunately makes the world go round.
You are not being unreasonable IMO. Being in your situation would make me feel like his mother. Having to constantly check up on his financials or ask “Did you pay your bills this month?!” or bail him out would drive me up the wall.
The school debt he couldn’t necessarily control, but the credit card debt and collections? That’s a huge red flag for me. Seriously think about if you want to deal with this for the rest of your lives, since it’s not likely to change.
Post # 8
you guys have to go through his budget together, write it up, get rid of all that debt, explain to him the importance of saving. The credit card debt should be the first to go, that one will sting you. Maybe go see a financial advisor. Not all debt is bad if its managed well, but maxxed Credit Cards are always bad. My only advice, if you are going to get married and if this is going to work financially, you need to combine your finances & work with what you’ve got together. Your right, it is a financial partnership. My hubby was the same when we first met. We consolidated everything and now we’re on an even playing field. I get paid a little more than him, but it doesn’t matter, it all goes into the same Ryan pot.
i think you should concentrate on eliminating that CC debt together before you get married. 23k is not a huge amount on a 200k combined salary. It’s do-able. The student loan, well, it’s just a necessary inconvenience that also won’t be around forever
Post # 9
@mysticbeez: $2500 a month in student loans? WTF? Is that normal? Do you know if consolidating is an option?
The only really bad habit I see here, where I would demand he change, is the “instant gratification” and “spluring” as you call it, as well as the overdrafts. That’s where I would draw the line. Because, it becomes YOUR MONEY (collectively) after marriage. And that means that big, personal purchases need to be discussed and agreed upon first. And he absolutely can NOT continue to rack up credit card debt!
Now this part is on you… you knew he had student loan debt, right? He can’t really help the issue of his debt now. It’s there. And it may be there for a long time to come. You either accept it or you don’t. Marriage/relationships is all about give and take… there is acceptance OR the expectation of change. The way I see it, you *accept* the debt, agree to undertake paying it back with him. And you *expect* him to change his spend-happy behaviors. Just like it’s *OUR* money when it comes to spending, it’s also *OUR* money in debt.
I think if you can both come to an agreement on this issue, you can be successful partners in marriage. If either of you are unwilling to do this, than that’s ok. But that also means no marriage, at least not right now. You won’t know where you both stand until you talk about this. If you chose to work on this together, absolultey see a pre-marital counselor and perhaps a financial planner.
Post # 10
First of all, you are smart for worrying about this, so don’t let anyone say you’re being shallow! As many PPs pointed out money issues are a huge cause of stress and divorce. I would not marry him without some kind of financial plan and proof that he is trying to better manage his finances. I don’t mean to sound harsh but if you are already resenting this, how are you going to feel when your credit tanks from joining assets? What about when you can’t get a mortgage? How does he feel about retirement savings? So many people think they will ‘get to that later’ and are forgoing compound interest in their 20s and 30s and will never catch up by a normal retirement age. His lifestyle sounds like it needs a serious reality check!
I’d look into Financial Peace University. I’ve not taken the class but I use the ‘envelope system’ to budget and it works pretty well for me. I’d also look into income based loan repayment programs. And make him sit down and watch a few episdoes of ’till debt do us part’. If he doesn’t understand why this is important, it might be a deal breaker, but he might just be feeling overwhelmed by debt and need to be educated on financial responsibility.
Post # 11
I’m in a similar boat as you are, but opposite. My FI has a lot of money saved up and no debt. He almost never uses credit cards and when he does he pays it off immediately. His parents paid for his college.
I, on the other hand, have a crap-ton of student loan debt (paid my own way, mostly), and a significant amount of credit card debt due to living somewhere impractical when I got my first job out of school. I also have some medical debt and I’m struggling to pay the bills every month.
So I’m telling you that I don’t think he’s a slacker or there’s anything about his debt situation that makes him a bad person. The problem is his attitude toward it.
I never spend money (except on food). I never buy anything for myself, I wear inexpensive clothes and rarely buy new ones. My FI is a spender, but that’s ok because he has money to spend. I’m constantly trying to make my financial situation better, my FI knows this and so doesn’t hold it against me.
What I’m saying is that the maturity level in him not being willing to work on budgeting is really low. He needs to call his lender and get reduced student loan payments. He can also look into consolodating his student loans- rates are low right now and that could help. He needs to see a financial advisor and, most importantly STOP SPENDING.
You can’t have a future with someone who isn’t willing to be a financial partner. Don’t marry him until he steps up.
Post # 12
I suggest sitting down with a counselor or financial planner or both. Financial issues need to be figured out before you guys get married – it’s one of if not the top factors for divorce.
Post # 13
Could you get him to go to a financial counselor who could not only teach him how to handle money (or train/recondition/whatever you want to call it)? It’d also be another person to whom he’d be accountable for how he handles his funds.
I personally would not be able to live with/be married to someone who is so financially irresponsible. The constant stress and having to be his “money mom” would be too much. I’d want to be an equal partner, not his financial manager.