“Money problems” is a top ten reason why people get divorced in the U.S. This is why just about everyone recommends that prior to getting hitched, you have the “money talk” with your partner. When is the best time to start talking money with the person you are dating? Obviously not on the first date. I’d stay away from an exclusive relationship with someone until I knew enough about their finances. Financial baggage can be a huge burden on a relationship. If you’ve become emotionally vested, finding out your partner has poor credit or is in serious debt will make you think: Is it worth sticking it out?
Here’s my advice. If you are still dating but are not yet a couple, and you discover that your potential boy/girlfriend has both bad credit and is heavily indebted, get the hell out of Dodge! Do yourself a favor and follow Tina Turner’s motto: What’s love got to do with it? Consider playing out the scenario. Are you really going to marry this person with all of their financial problems and place your own financial future in peril? Chances are that you will not. You’ll get tired of paying for things, covering expenses, taking out the loans in your name, etc. So end the relationship sooner than later.
What if you find that your ongoing dating partner has average credit but has lots of debt? How much debt is too much? I’d give a girlfriend the boot if she had more than $100K of personal debt and wasn’t in Med school or some other high paying career funnel. But that’s just me.
The best case scenario for staying in a relationship with someone you really like, a love match so to speak, but that has financial baggage, is when the prospective boyfriend/girlfriend simply has bad credit. As Gerri Detweiler notes in, How I Helped My Boyfriend Boost His Credit Score 140 Points, (link below) first determine what went wrong. If your boyfriend or girlfriend (preferably, “potential” boyfriend/girlfriend) made poor decisions due to a lack of knowledge, you can help educate them. Detweiler’s boyfriend took out a secured credit card with a $500 collateral deposit, and then maxed it out in one charge, believing paying it down would boost his credit. What he didn’t know was that you should never have a balance on a secured credit card larger than 20-25% of your credit limit, meaning that in this case, Detweiler’s boyfriend shouldn’t have had a balance greater than $125 after each month.
So there you have it, financial dating advice.
Let’s do a quick summary:
Don’t let love chemistry get in the way of your future financial plans.
Start probing for the financial health of the girl/guy you are dating as soon as possible. Be clever about it.
Break off the dating prior to being exclusive if you discover your potential boyfriend/girlfriend is highly indebted and has bad credit. Give them points if they are budget conscious, even if they live at home with parents.
If you should be stuck in a bad financial relationship already, be assertive and break it off if your partner has enough debt to cover the entire mortgage on a house ($100K or more). Unless of course they’re in Med school or will be in a traditionally well-paid and in-demand career.
If it’s just a credit issue, help your partner get out of it. Secured credit cards are a great way of doing this.
Why get married and then divorce later due to money problems that were around and known while dating? It makes no cents.