Dear Debt Adviser,
My boyfriend -- a potential fiance candidate in the future -- and I have very different financial situations. I am worried these differences may interfere with our relationship in the future.
I am 25 and finishing the last year of my master's degree. Currently I work only part time and have acquired a small amount of credit card debt. I also have $25,000 in student loans over the past seven years of my education.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, works full time and has no debt besides his household mortgage. We have been honest with each other about our financial situations, and he has expressed concerns about how my debt load might affect a possible marriage.
Do you have any suggestions for helping get us on the same page about our financial future?
He's concerned? I'd have concerns, too, if I were your boyfriend.
No doubt, you are great person with many splendid attributes, but take a minute to look at things from his point of view.
He has successfully completed school; you have not. He has a full-time job and is self-supporting; you are not. He owns a home and has no other debt; you don't own your own home and owe a ton.
This is not a foundation on which to build an equal relationship.
You have talked about each of your current financial situations, and that is good. What you need to do next is have a conversation about how each of you sees your financial future and what you are willing to do to make it happen.
I suggest you plan some quiet time together and each outline how you see your future in the next year, five years and 10 years. As single people, your personal goals may not compliment each other exactly, but they should be in the same ballpark.
For instance, I knew a couple to-be who never talked about the details of the future. She wanted a job as a teacher and to take care of her sickly mother. Meanwhile, he wanted a career as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, traveling extensively and changing countries every two years.
There is no wrong way to arrange your finances as a couple. As long as you both agree to the arrangement and it seems to work for you, then it is right for you.