Today’s post is based on a question I received from a reader recently asking for advice about debt and relationships. After getting the reader’s permission, I am able to share her question with you and my reply to her in case it helps anyone else.
I’m also thinking that there are some very knowledgeable PF bloggers out there who may also be able to offer this reader some good advice…
For anonymity purposes, I’m going to refer to the reader as ‘Mandy‘. Here’s her question below:
“I’ve been following your debt progress for a while and I wondered if I could ask some advice. I’m in debt and my boyfriend and I are looking at getting a place together. We’ve been together around seven months. He doesn’t know about my debt and I’m really scared about telling him in case I lose him. He’s good with money but I’ve racked up some debt over the last few years. I owe around $12,000 in credit card debt and am still paying off my student loans. I’m debating about just trying to get the debt down as much as possible without telling him but I’m thinking that we might need to share financial details when we move in. What should I do?”
Here’s my reply:
Thanks for getting in touch and for sharing this with me. I understand why you’re debating over whether or not to tell your boyfriend. This is still a fairly new relationship and money matters (including debt matters) are personal. It seems though that things are starting to get serious if you and your boyfriend are thinking about moving in together?
I’m not sure whether you’re thinking about buying a place with your boyfriend or whether it’s renting somewhere that you’ll be doing. If you’re buying a house, debts and liabilities (and any assets) will certainly crop up in any mortgage application process. If you’re planning on renting, then you’ll probably need to provide bank statements and proof of income as part of tenant checks but as far as I’m aware you won’t need to go into the details of any debts that you carry.
Depending on which route you’re going down with moving in with your boyfriend, this might eliminate the ‘must tell him’ scenario. But personally speaking, if it was me, I would mention it. That’s because if things are getting serious between the two of you, then having secrets isn’t perhaps the best way to start things off. Especially debt secrets. My hubby and I weren’t completely honest with each other about our debts for years and I really think this added to our financial problems in the end.
I say ‘mention it’ because I don’t think a full on ‘confession’ is needed. A lot of people have some kind of debt these days, especially student debt. Your boyfriend may even expect that you have debt – if you’ve not really spoken about such financial matters before, you might find that he has some kind of debt himself. If you don’t say anything, you’ll be causing yourself a ton of stress and worry in the meantime. And the longer you leave it, the harder it will get.
This has to be your call as only you know your boyfriend, but if he’s serious about you, then it stands to reason that he’ll hear you out. You don’t have to go into the nitty gritty of how the debt occurred or even the extent of your debt right now. I would just mention it in conversation, without making a big deal out of it. If you decide to tell him, let him know about your plan to pay it back (if you have one yet!). That’s what I would do. Hopefully he’ll react in the way that you want him to.
I hope this helps somewhat Mandy! Thanks again for getting in touch and letting me share your question with my readers. I hope that things work out the way that you want them to. You may also want to take a look at a post I wrote recently about how to make a relationship work when you’re in debt.
For the record, I’m not a financial adviser (bwahaha!). Or a relationship adviser. But I do have experience about debt and relationship issues. 🙂
What advice would you offer Mandy? If you’re a reader with a question, I love answering them either privately or through the blog, so please feel free to contact me!
*Image courtesy of Flickr