The Money Mustache Community

Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Undertoad on May 23, 2019, 10:57:51 PM

Title: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Undertoad on May 23, 2019, 10:57:51 PM
I've been dating my girlfriend for just over a year and she told me about her debt around 4 months ago. She has about $80k in student loan debt, about $2k in credit card debt, and about $2k in total savings. I nearly broke up with her when she first shared the news; however, the thought of doing so tore me apart. So instead, I shared my anxieties with her and we sort of imagined a future together where we would live frugally and pay down her debt.

We both make about $65k a year and I have $105k savings + $210k in retirement savings. Money represents security to me so I've always been very careful with my money. We live in a major US city and although we don't live together, we each pay about $850 per month in rent. I'm 35, she's 40.

Since the initial debt conversation, I've had some horrible bouts of anxiety thinking about it. I feel like we're going to struggle forever because we'll need to pay down her debt, build up her emergency savings, and help her save for retirement. I don't know how we'll ever afford a house, vacations, etc. I worry about one of us losing our job or getting sick (I have a chronic health condition).

She's not a huge spender but she's made some big mistakes with money. Most notably, she works in non-profit and thought she was in a program that would forgive her loan after 10 years. As she approached the 10 year mark, she discovered she was not repaying under the right program, so her loan will not be forgiven any time soon. She was devastated when she found out and it's been a huge source of anxiety for her. Money talk in general has been very difficult because it triggers her anxiety/sadness. I also feel triggered when I see her buying items that don't seem completely necessary to me, even if they are small purchases.

I've been struggling with thoughts around the debt this week and I don't know what to do. She's a wonderful woman, I love her very much, and we click on many levels, but I'm so scared of what the future holds for us. Do we have a chance at living comfortably?

Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: AlotToLearn on May 23, 2019, 11:55:12 PM
A few takeaways from your post:

You are using *we* and thinking future, which is a good sign
 Have you personally considered marrying this woman and taking savings you have built up to eliminate this debt that is giving you anxiety? Is she as bothered by the debt as you are?



She *thought* she was in a program that would forgive her loans? How can that oversight happen? Did they lie to her or did she not read through the offer letter thoroughly?
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: gooki on May 24, 2019, 01:29:50 AM
Be awesome and help her manage her way out of debt, but don't throw your money at it.

Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: former player on May 24, 2019, 02:08:38 AM
If your girlfriend was planning in any case to carry on working for another 10 years in a non-profit then essentially nothing has changed: she needs to get onto the right program immediately, to check every year that her repayments count towards paying off her student loan, and otherwise forget about it.

If your girlfriend was planning on moving out of non-profit, then she needs to do the calculations and find a job that will pay enough more than she earns at present that she can pay off the student loans, hopefully on an accelerated schedule, and still be left with more money than she is currently earning.  That may well be doable: there are high paying jobs out there.  Alternatively, can she come up with some sort of side hustle that would also earn her money?


I don't actually think the student loan debt is the big issue here, although obviously its an upsetting setback.  The real problem is that she is 40 with only $2k in savings.  Does she have any retirement or pension contributions?  Has she been paying into social security?  What were her plans for retirement before she found out about her failed student loan repayments?  OP is obviously a prudent and careful person, but even setting aside the student loan the girlfriend is obviously not.  That's more of a mismatch than anything else.  It doesn't matter while they are still dating and living separately, but as an indicator for a life together it doesn't look good.


I'm with gooki: this is the girlfriend's problem to solve not OPs: they should not pay off her debts or take on any financial responsibility for her until it is clear that she is taking responsibility for herself and her future.  Loving support while she gets there under her own steam is the way to go.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Malkynn on May 24, 2019, 03:03:20 AM
Okay, red flags. Red flags fucking everywhere.

1: How long have you been dating this person? You seem pretty committed and focused on a shared future, so how had the topic of personal finance not come up before now??? If the answer is that she was scares to tell you, well, that's just childish.

2: Where the hell is her money? As PP said, 40 years old, only 2K saved, and obviously she hasn't been paying it all towards student debt, so where the hell is her money???
Honestly, this is a much bigger red flag than her student debt.

3: She never actually looked at her plan to have her loans forgiven? She just assumed it would happen?? That's not a plan, that's wishful thinking, and 100% unacceptable.

4: She STILL won't openly talk to you about money because it causes her anxiety??? Like, she can't be a mature 40 year old about this and sit down with you and talk like a responsible partner about a very real issue that affects both of your potential futures??? What's that shit about??

The debt is honestly not the issue. Debt is a manageable thing that can be easily tackled by responsible people with aligned values and a realistic plan.

She does not sound responsible, reasonable, or like her values are aligned with yours, which means that your relationship is missing some key foundational aspects.

You can't live without respect, and with all of this new information, are you sure that you can respect her enough to truly love her?

Think carefully about it, decide for yourself.
But I'm telling you, this isn't a money issue, it's a trust and respect issue and that's much bigger.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: reeshau on May 24, 2019, 03:53:51 AM
Chiming in to agree:  this is her problem; there is no "we," legally or morally.  It is noble of you to think of her, and it is of course prudent to plan out a course before you *do* try to become a couple.  But be very careful of committing your resources to this problem, in your mind.

Others have said, and I agree:  the student loan debt isn't the problem; the lack of savings is a problem.  You say you both make $65k per year.  While you (presumably) don't and didn't have the same student loan debt, you have built up a good foundation.  The short answer is, she should have been able to, too.  But the news about the student loan, and likely something deeper underlying that, has her coping with her anxiety by burying her head and/or shopping her way out of it.

Painting a picture together is fine.  If and when you do combine, this is a modest issue:  with $130k between the two of you, and reduced joint expenses, $80k is a 1-2 year problem.  Then, get on with other things.  Or, continue with payments on a correct 10 year plan, and put it aside.  Or, if she is not tied to this non-profit, get her a supercharged paycheck at a for-profit company, and blow the student loan away with a signing bonus.  Unemployment is below 4%, for heaven's sake!

But...

Thinking in such a way may be what you need to jolt her out of her funk.  But for your own protection, I think you need to also get her on a short-term plan so she can demonstrate she can do it.  She needs to budget, and stick to it.  Not bare bones, but no mindless spending.  She needs to be saving for retirement.  You can coach her through the process.  Set annual or quarterly goals, and celebrate when they are achieved.  Her short-term success should bolster your and her confidence.  It seems like you are committed to this relationship at least this much.  And if, in the end, she falls short, walk away for your own sake; you will certainly have tried more than most, and perhaps you will still have helped her improve herself, even if you weren't a match after all.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Malkynn on May 24, 2019, 04:08:59 AM

Thinking in such a way may be what you need to jolt her out of her funk.  But for your own protection, I think you need to also get her on a short-term plan so she can demonstrate she can do it.  She needs to budget, and stick to it.  Not bare bones, but no mindless spending.  She needs to be saving for retirement.  You can coach her through the process.  Set annual or quarterly goals, and celebrate when they are achieved.  Her short-term success should bolster your and her confidence.  It seems like you are committed to this relationship at least this much.  And if, in the end, she falls short, walk away for your own sake; you will certainly have tried more than most, and perhaps you will still have helped her improve herself, even if you weren't a match after all.

I cannot possibly disagree with this more.

This is a 40 year old grown ass woman who needs to be able to independently handle her own financial problems. It is not even remotely OP's place to step in and create budgets and spending plans.

If the girlfriend isn't motivated on her own to manage her own mess, then she's not a fully functional and responsible adult capable of taking care of herself, and that is a MAJOR life issue.

It's fine to help if she, of her own volition, asks for budgeting and spending help because she knows she's fallible in those areas, but OP swooping in is the worst possible move in this situation. IMO.

I think having solid boundaries is an absolute must in this scenario. I think OP's goal at the moment should be to let the girlfriend demonstrate where her values are on this matter, and then OP can decide if this is someone who hold compatible enough values to build a future with.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: reeshau on May 24, 2019, 04:35:05 AM
I did not mean for the OP to do it for her; but there are many, many examples throughout this community of people teaching / helping friends, coworkers, etc. to learn how to do this.  Why a girlfriend is out of bounds when much more casual acquaintances are not doesn't make sense.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Malkynn on May 24, 2019, 04:48:45 AM
I did not mean for the OP to do it for her; but there are many, many examples throughout this community of people teaching / helping friends, coworkers, etc. to learn how to do this.  Why a girlfriend is out of bounds when much more casual acquaintances are not doesn't make sense.

I don't think helping a girlfriend is at all out of bounds, but I think that the girlfriend needs to be the one to ask for that help.

It's so incredibly easy to swoop in and offer solutions, but it's not always the best idea with respect to the relationship.

I think that if the girlfriend can't even talk about it, that's a much much bigger problem than actually tackling the debt.
Even thinking about logistics of tackling the debt is putting the cart before the horse in this scenario.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Noodle on May 24, 2019, 06:35:38 AM
The money itself is a very solvable problem, even for your GF on her own, but definitely if someday, in the distant future, you two marry and work on the debt together. (NOT RIGHT NOW!) You mention that you have anxiety, and perhaps that is causing you to attach a lot of extra emotion to what is basically a math problem.

The bigger issue is how your GF acts around money. I'm not surprised she is ashamed of her debt, and that may have led to paralysis. But what does she do now? Does she figure out a plan and work on it? If her anxiety is bad enough that it's impeding the process, does she get help for that? I was just reading another thread about a divorced mom who was wondering about dating a guy in his 50s with very few assets. In that case, they had a conversation and it became clear that a) there were reasons for where he was at that point, b) he had a plan, even if it was different from her FIRE plan, and c) he supported her continuing with her plan and did not expect her financial support. The point is, the money is less of a concern than how she deals with it.

You can support her, but by doing things like--when it comes time to move in together, be willing to live somewhere modest enough so she has plenty to put toward the debt payment. Take the initiative to plan inexpensive fun things, which often take more time to research and put together, so that you don't fall back on the easy expensive versions. Be the cheerleader and tell her how proud you are of her hard work, and other people as appropriate.

The hardest thing, I think, is when you feel like your financial future depends on someone else's decisions. Assuming that GF does come up with a plan, it may very well include some "frivolous" spending. It is unlikely that she will be willing to go ten years without a vacation, for instance. Part of your job will be to let go of the idea that any money not spent on necessities is taking away from your future together. Planned discretionary spending can be part of an appropriate financial plan.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Uturn on May 24, 2019, 07:00:11 AM
Experience talking here.  Do not marry or co-mingle your finances until you are comfortable with her spending habits.  You can show her your way of handling money, but you cannot change her way.  If you are willing to accept her spendy ways and she is willing to accept your frugal ways without arguments or conflict, FOREVER, then carry on.  Otherwise, you need to have a hard gut check about your relationship. 
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mistymoney on May 24, 2019, 07:38:11 AM
I'm concerned about everyone having anxiety over this. She's anxious - you're anxious - this is just not helpful!

This is just life. So - both of you are having highly emotional reactions to simple factual things and if you really want to plan a future together my first piece of advise is some counseling - couples or individual - maybe both - around communication and problem solving.

Then tackle the finances.

I don't see near as many red flags as others do. It is easy to just go month to month paying bills and then years and then decades go by.

So my questions are:

Why no retirement savings? decent non-profits usually pay a little lower but have good benefits, including 401k matches. And many nonprofits now do their contribution even if the ee doesn't. Are you sure she hasn't done anything here? That would be a shame.

My advise to GF:

First off, I would say to her. This is doable, and you can do it. Stop being anxious and start taking action. 65K is a decent enough salary, and she can do a lot with it going forward.

start 401k stat - contribute to get whatever match or if no match, some low baseline contribution to start - 1%, and up it with each raise.
if no 401k at work, start up the Roth with some low level contribution.

Ditto for an EF - just some low level, maybe 25/month. These are mainly to develop habits, the pay yourself first.

Pay off the credit cards, get a second job on a temp basis if need be. I think if she could commit to just 6 month of a second job to dig herself out and put herself in a better footing, she would really see the light at the end of the tunnel and start being energized instead of anxious.

Figure out the student loan situation. Either get into a real loan forgiveness program as other stated, track it, etc. or develop a real plan and budget on paying it off.



My advise to you:

If you truly have her full picture here, and value her as person, then I would have no qualms about moving forward in the relationship. It seems very likely that her situation is the result of a lack of information rather than a trainwreck spending type personality.

Of course, don't get overly invested in this. It is her hole to dig out of.

Don't get judgy about small purchases.  She is a grown-ass woman, who is self-sufficient, gainfully employed, and made it to age 40 intact. Assist her with useful information and encouragement. If you want to proceed with the relationship on a more serious basis, talk frankly about what you'd like to see before taking the next step.

And you both need to stop using anxiety as some sort of crutch or excuse for poor communication or for controlling type behaviors.



Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Malkynn on May 24, 2019, 08:11:57 AM
I'm concerned about everyone having anxiety over this. She's anxious - you're anxious - this is just not helpful!

This is just life. So - both of you are having highly emotional reactions to simple factual things and if you really want to plan a future together my first piece of advise is some counseling - couples or individual - maybe both - around communication and problem solving.

Then tackle the finances.

I don't see near as many red flags as others do. It is easy to just go month to month paying bills and then years and then decades go by.

So my questions are:

Why no retirement savings? decent non-profits usually pay a little lower but have good benefits, including 401k matches. And many nonprofits now do their contribution even if the ee doesn't. Are you sure she hasn't done anything here? That would be a shame.

My advise to GF:

First off, I would say to her. This is doable, and you can do it. Stop being anxious and start taking action. 65K is a decent enough salary, and she can do a lot with it going forward.

start 401k stat - contribute to get whatever match or if no match, some low baseline contribution to start - 1%, and up it with each raise.
if no 401k at work, start up the Roth with some low level contribution.

Ditto for an EF - just some low level, maybe 25/month. These are mainly to develop habits, the pay yourself first.

Pay off the credit cards, get a second job on a temp basis if need be. I think if she could commit to just 6 month of a second job to dig herself out and put herself in a better footing, she would really see the light at the end of the tunnel and start being energized instead of anxious.

Figure out the student loan situation. Either get into a real loan forgiveness program as other stated, track it, etc. or develop a real plan and budget on paying it off.



My advise to you:

If you truly have her full picture here, and value her as person, then I would have no qualms about moving forward in the relationship. It seems very likely that her situation is the result of a lack of information rather than a trainwreck spending type personality.

Of course, don't get overly invested in this. It is her hole to dig out of.

Don't get judgy about small purchases.  She is a grown-ass woman, who is self-sufficient, gainfully employed, and made it to age 40 intact. Assist her with useful information and encouragement. If you want to proceed with the relationship on a more serious basis, talk frankly about what you'd like to see before taking the next step.

And you both need to stop using anxiety as some sort of crutch or excuse for poor communication or for controlling type behaviors.

I agree with everything said here, especially the last paragraph, which is very astute.

I only disagree a bit about the definition of "red flags", which I define as issues that urgently need to be addressed before moving forward and not as indications that the person is a dumpster fire or that the relationship is doomed.

Yes, it is very easy to slip into ignoring finances for years and many decent people do it, but I still consider it a behavioural red flag that needs to be carefully considered before committing to someone as a life partner.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mistymoney on May 24, 2019, 08:37:44 AM
I'm concerned about everyone having anxiety over this. She's anxious - you're anxious - this is just not helpful!

This is just life. So - both of you are having highly emotional reactions to simple factual things and if you really want to plan a future together my first piece of advise is some counseling - couples or individual - maybe both - around communication and problem solving.

Then tackle the finances.

I don't see near as many red flags as others do. It is easy to just go month to month paying bills and then years and then decades go by.

So my questions are:

Why no retirement savings? decent non-profits usually pay a little lower but have good benefits, including 401k matches. And many nonprofits now do their contribution even if the ee doesn't. Are you sure she hasn't done anything here? That would be a shame.

My advise to GF:

First off, I would say to her. This is doable, and you can do it. Stop being anxious and start taking action. 65K is a decent enough salary, and she can do a lot with it going forward.

start 401k stat - contribute to get whatever match or if no match, some low baseline contribution to start - 1%, and up it with each raise.
if no 401k at work, start up the Roth with some low level contribution.

Ditto for an EF - just some low level, maybe 25/month. These are mainly to develop habits, the pay yourself first.

Pay off the credit cards, get a second job on a temp basis if need be. I think if she could commit to just 6 month of a second job to dig herself out and put herself in a better footing, she would really see the light at the end of the tunnel and start being energized instead of anxious.

Figure out the student loan situation. Either get into a real loan forgiveness program as other stated, track it, etc. or develop a real plan and budget on paying it off.



My advise to you:

If you truly have her full picture here, and value her as person, then I would have no qualms about moving forward in the relationship. It seems very likely that her situation is the result of a lack of information rather than a trainwreck spending type personality.

Of course, don't get overly invested in this. It is her hole to dig out of.

Don't get judgy about small purchases.  She is a grown-ass woman, who is self-sufficient, gainfully employed, and made it to age 40 intact. Assist her with useful information and encouragement. If you want to proceed with the relationship on a more serious basis, talk frankly about what you'd like to see before taking the next step.

And you both need to stop using anxiety as some sort of crutch or excuse for poor communication or for controlling type behaviors.

I agree with everything said here, especially the last paragraph, which is very astute.

I only disagree a bit about the definition of "red flags", which I define as issues that urgently need to be addressed before moving forward and not as indications that the person is a dumpster fire or that the relationship is doomed.

Yes, it is very easy to slip into ignoring finances for years and many decent people do it, but I still consider it a behavioural red flag that needs to be carefully considered before committing to someone as a life partner.

oh - I'm not saying there are no flags, just that I don't see a whole bunch of them. Just a few - and maybe yellow rather than red.

OP should calmly communicate what he is looking for in a long-term partner. Based on the (not much!) information available here - it seems she pretty much hits everything except the financials, which is easily fixed moving forward.

So, the gf has the means to do better - even if that is looking for a higher paying job, picking up a PT job, or just cracking down on the budget and getting serious about it.

To me - this is just so much more fixable than some who has cheated on you or never wants to have sex, steals from you, is abusive, can't keep a job, has substance abuse issues, etc. etc. - the potential list here is endless.

If all she needs to be a great partner is sign up for the 401k and pay off some debt and get better at budgeting and saving (really - all just good habits that one can develop at any time if they want to).

Maybe OP was hoping that she would have similar or more assets than himself, and that was a huge disappointment. But honestly - from her side - this quote

"I nearly broke up with her when she first shared the news"

I myself - would have been done with this relationship. And if GF has anxiety discussing things - maybe this is why!
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: pachnik on May 24, 2019, 09:55:32 AM
I have an anxiety disorder too.  This is how I handle things that are difficult to talk about.  I just wait a day or two for the anxiety to subside and then talk about the issue.  This works for me.  My husband is okay with it too.  I can't think of an issue that's come up that made me feel very anxious that couldn't wait a day or so to discuss.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: thesis on May 24, 2019, 09:59:25 AM
$2k in credit card debt is not the worst thing in the world. Some might call it average. $10k? $20k? That would be a deal-breaker for me. $2k? People manage that all the time. IMHO, bad consumer choices show very different than bad education choices. Sadly, it's extremely easy to make bad education choices. Bad consumer choices typically require consistently poor financial decisions. I'm not saying it's good, but I think of consumer debt and student loan debt as very different indicators. I've known some very smart and frugal people who were paying off large student loans.

You have $200k in retirement and you're nervous about this? :) I get it, I really do, but step back and relax. It really does sound like an information issue. Forumites might find it absurd that some people do not have personalities that love doing tax research, spreadsheets, and math, but certain personality types really struggle with that stuff and it's like a giant brick wall for them. If you can reassure your gf that this beast can be tackled and that you're at least willing to help her start addressing it, that may decrease some of the anxiety.

It's not all hopeless. I'd probably start by addresses ways that the student loans could be paid down. Don't hold it against her, just start talking about the freedom that having that would bring, maybe start look into budget and showing how maybe she could scale back in certain areas and put that extra money toward the loan. I suspect showing her the potential savings of having that gone would be a huge motivator. But it will take tact, and only you'll have a good idea what that means in this situation.

Look for progress over time. She's ignored personal finance, but she's also not been completely terrible with it. Just average, in my opinion. Just whatever you do, don't promise to pay it off for her. She will need to have some skin in the game, and if she's willing to work on things, your relationship still has a good chance
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: JestJes on May 24, 2019, 10:42:13 AM
I feel like I can identify with your girlfriend a little but because I spend most of my 20s screwing up. Its never to late to change if she wants to. Have a honest conversation with her that saving money and financial independence is important to you. It seems like you guys are both nervous so maybe write her a letter. Explain that you are willing to work with her through this because you love her but she has to make changes in her life.

I would also not recommend paying off any of the debt yourself. She took out the debt and if she takes responsibility for it then I think you guys will be fine. When I was paying off my credit card debt my boyfriend would pick up small purchases here and there but did not pay for any of my debt. Granted that was much smaller than this 80K debt maybe you could consider pitching in 5-10 years later if you guys end up getting married then that is your choice.

If she freaks out or tries to pressure you into paying it off for her then run.
 
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mm1970 on May 24, 2019, 10:56:57 AM
A few takeaways from your post:

You are using *we* and thinking future, which is a good sign
 Have you personally considered marrying this woman and taking savings you have built up to eliminate this debt that is giving you anxiety? Is she as bothered by the debt as you are?



She *thought* she was in a program that would forgive her loans? How can that oversight happen? Did they lie to her or did she not read through the offer letter thoroughly?

Oh well, it only takes a little bit of Google-fu to figure THAT one out.  The vast majority of people who have applied for loan forgiveness have been denied.  The rules are confusing and the banks...not exactly truthful.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/01/03/student-loan-forgiveness-data/#45353cce68d0
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: socaso on May 24, 2019, 11:12:28 AM
There has been a lot of coverage in the media about how difficult it has been for people working in the non profit sector to actually obtain the debt forgiveness they were told the qualified for. There are a lot of hoops to jump through and not much helpful information for those who try to use the program. It's not necessarily her fault the loan forgiveness didn't happen for her, a lot of people have found themselves in the same boat.

Just remember this is not your debt, it's hers. She told you about it, which is great, she's being open and honest. If anything her honesty is a good reason to continue with the relationship. You now have the information to make good decisions about your future. Even if you married at some point and she still had debt you could get some kind of prenuptial agreement to keep your assets safe until she paid off her debts.

But she does need to start saving for retirement. I'm really hoping that maybe you just didn't mention or don't know if she has retirement savings.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mm1970 on May 24, 2019, 11:13:59 AM
Also, it's not hopeless, though it may seem so.  I did a little math awhile ago.  Most income based repayment plans recommend no more than 10-20% of your income go to student loan payment.

The good news is, for your girlfriend:
$80,000 over 10 years repayment is about $850/ month
That's about 16% of her income if she makes $65k a year.

It is not awesome, but should be doable.

Likewise there are online calculators that I've found that have done the math too.  (Generally I'd recommend borrowing no more than 1x to 1.5x your expected starting salary).

http://www.finaid.org/calculators/scripts/loanpayments.cgi
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Cassie on May 24, 2019, 11:30:25 AM
I totally agree with misty and yes actually getting loan forgiveness is hard. Lots of sad stories about it.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: JTColton on May 24, 2019, 11:36:54 AM
I'd break up with her personally.

You're 35, with a decent job and doing very well financially. You can find someone easily who shares your outlook.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: six-car-habit on May 24, 2019, 03:01:48 PM
  **" I also feel triggered when I see her buying items that don't seem completely necessary to me, even if they are small purchases."**

 This is natural. Are they " wants" or "needs" ?

 I'm gonna jump in here and say - have you considered living together, shared apartment / house ?   If you found a place for $1000/ mo  - that is $350 savings [ for her] a month, plus money saved on power, cable/ internet, possibly groceries, etc.   No better way to see if you are really compatible than sharing a space together... if it works out living together for a year, than maybe get engaged, -  if you are not truly compatible - well it's cheaper than divorce...

 Easy 5K a year extra savings / loan payoff for her at the same income level.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Bobberth on May 24, 2019, 04:03:29 PM
Your girlfriend sounds like she's in the financially 'normal' range to me. In fact, thinking about it, she would probably be the 40 year old of my wife when we met. My wife was upper $20k in student loan debt in 2000. Probably about the equivalent to $80k-$100k of student loans now. She would have just made the minimum payments and might have had some savings but not a huge amount. The only difference is that my wife went into teaching so she would have had a forced pension even if she didn't save outside of that. Not a financial home run in any way. But let me tell you, she has done so much to help along our path to FIRE. I came with the financial knowledge and expertise but she came with other knowledge and expertise and we make a great team. I taught her things and she taught me things. It's been a wonderful life.

I think this was a country song, but if I didn't have her, I would have a lot more money. But I also would be spending my time and money trying to find someone like her.

I'm not saying that you should stay with your girlfriend, that's a deeper relationship question. But I don't think it's a deal breaker and I definitely don't think it's as bad as some here have posted. Already if you move in together, that's $850+/month from shared living expenses to help pay off the debt. This seems like an easy and relatively quick problem to solve.


Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Evgenia on May 24, 2019, 04:16:55 PM
+1 to this:
The good news is, for your girlfriend:
$80,000 over 10 years repayment is about $850/ month
That's about 16% of her income if she makes $65k a year.

It is not awesome, but should be doable.
http://www.finaid.org/calculators/scripts/loanpayments.cgi

It becomes more than doable if you two move in together (maintaining your current rent price of $850/month), and her rent becomes half that. Then she can easily afford $850/month to loans, and can undoubtedly afford more if she works seriously at it.

A lot of folks here have asked reasonable questions about her past. The important thing is what happens going forward. The indicators I'd look for (understanding that anxiety can hobble this and so must also be dealt with, as others have said):
* Is she on board with frugal principles? Is her spending free (or becoming free) of all BS? Does she feel her debt is an emergency?
* Is she reading books that will help her feel better about managing her money? Elizabeth Warren's All Your Worth book, and its kind, doable tone and 50/30/20 percentage budget, really helped me when I was staring down student loan debt.
* Has she looked into student loan refinancing options (as with First Republic and others), which might enable her to put more toward principle instead of interest?
* Does she know about debt snowball methods and is she on board?
* Is she filling out the retirement fund forms at work?

The past is the past. It's what she does now that matters. I don't mean to sound unsympathetic; I'm not. I once had more than $54k in undergrad student loan debt (due to interest on what was originally $45k). I remember the pressure. But then I got crazy about tackling it, which meant, 12 years to pay off. BUT that was while I was going to grad school part-time and paying for that in cash and not adding new loan debt. And I still hit FIRE before age 40. IT CAN BE DONE. :)

When it all started to feel like a drag, a slog I'd never get out of, I read and listened to as much preaching-to-the-choir content as I could find: Dave Ramsey shows, blogs - kept me feeling part of a community and MOTIVATED.

Making her feel bad about it won't help; shifting into partnered ACTION MODE may. Best of luck!
 
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: RFAAOATB on May 24, 2019, 05:12:10 PM
I'd break up with her personally.

You're 35, with a decent job and doing very well financially. You can find someone easily who shares your outlook.

Agreed.  Break up with her.  Date someone closer to your net worth.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Rosy on May 24, 2019, 05:42:47 PM
Quote
Maybe OP was hoping that she would have similar or more assets than himself, and that was a huge disappointment. But honestly - from her side - this quote

"I nearly broke up with her when she first shared the news"

I myself - would have been done with this relationship. And if GF has anxiety discussing things - maybe this is why!

Agreed.
If I were the GF I'd have serious second thoughts.

I am shocked about the intensity - the anxiety - and the unforgiving stance of some of the posters.

They've been together for a year and while it has taken her a while to talk about her $80K student debt this is not something one brings up on a first date or even three months into a relationship.
She has her own place, pays her own way, hasn't asked him for money, thinks nothing about being together with a man who has a chronic illness that may one day prevent him from earning money at all, has a solid job with a decent income and by the OPs admission is not a spendthrift. 

Student debt does not define the worth of a person. She was mistaken or misled and thought she was near pay off only to find out she was on the wrong plan. Yeah, I'd say that alone is anxiety-inducing enough.
So she hasn't been smart about her money in the past, you can't change that so stop obsessing about it.

OP - Yes, $80K sounds overwhelming at first, but hey - you are the one who is good with money, so lend your expertise and work together and this will all soon be only a memory.
This is entirely doable like many have already pointed out.

Develop a plan and stop hyperventilating it is not becoming for a grown ass man. If you prefer a woman who brings monetary assets to the table -right now- then do yourself a favor and move on. Be honest with yourself and with her.
It is just a math - income and money problem - solve it!

An aggressive three-year plan or a longer term 5-year plan. You mentioned she pays $850 a month for her place - if she can move in with you that gives her an extra $850 a month and if you can split the utilities and food budget then this will give both of you more income as well.
She needs to increase her income - ask for more money at work, look for a better position or find a side hustle.
She needs to become financially savvy - that takes time.

Life is full of surprises. When I met Mr. R. I wasn't exactly a financial gem either and surprise, surprise I turned into an asset along the way.

For us it turned out just like Bobberth said:
Quote
I came with the financial knowledge and expertise but she came with other knowledge and expertise and we make a great team.
I taught her things and she taught me things.
It's been a wonderful life.

There is no need to combine finances if you are not ready or for you to take over her burden of debt - but you can help her easily enough and enjoy life together. It isn't easy to find the right person - hold on and cherish when you do.
 
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: FIREstache on May 24, 2019, 06:16:36 PM
$80K???  That's a big chunk of your stache.  Turn tail and run.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: SwordGuy on May 24, 2019, 08:14:41 PM
You both have issues.   Since few people are perfect, that's pretty much par for the course.

Swordguy's first rule of helping people:

"Don't help people more than they help themselves."

You've gotten good advice on how to proceed with the relationship.   That's what I would do, proceed.   

Help her help herself out.  If she does that, she's could well be a keeper.  If she isn't willing to help herself, it's time to walk.  Don't expect perfection right out the gate, it takes time to make changes to lifetime belief systems and habits.
And you've got some improving to do on your own self, so get to work.  That needs to be done regardless of who the woman in your life is.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Catbert on May 25, 2019, 11:09:26 AM
Don't move in with her for the primary purpose of saving (her) rent.   I can't believe people suggested that (unless you said you wanted to move in with her and I missed it.)  Suggest she get a roommate if the motivate is less rent.  OTOH I wouldn't break up with her over the student loans.

Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Malkynn on May 25, 2019, 11:54:06 AM
Don't move in with her for the primary purpose of saving (her) rent.   I can't believe people suggested that (unless you said you wanted to move in with her and I missed it.)  Suggest she get a roommate if the motivate is less rent.  OTOH I wouldn't break up with her over the student loans.

I was kind of gobsmacked by that advice as well. OP talked about almost breaking up with her...
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: six-car-habit on May 25, 2019, 11:54:29 AM
 In my suggestion the idea was they live together - but Both pay Half the rent [ which would equal less outlay monthly for both of them ] - and since they have been together >12 months - it would be a better determinant if they would be happy long term.  After a year of living together, if it didn't work out - than -no engagement...no renewal of the lease.

   I am a much "neater" person than my spouse. Her organization and placement of things is much more haphzard. Well, i can deal with it. its compromise, but i could only figure out i was willing to do that long term, by living together.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mistymoney on May 25, 2019, 02:44:25 PM
$80K???  That's a big chunk of your stache.  Turn tail and run.

because she asked him to pay it off for her?

missed that part.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mistymoney on May 25, 2019, 02:46:58 PM
In my suggestion the idea was they live together - but Both pay Half the rent [ which would equal less outlay monthly for both of them ] - and since they have been together >12 months - it would be a better determinant if they would be happy long term.  After a year of living together, if it didn't work out - than -no engagement...no renewal of the lease.

   I am a much "neater" person than my spouse. Her organization and placement of things is much more haphzard. Well, i can deal with it. its compromise, but i could only figure out i was willing to do that long term, by living together.

Does a long term relationship really require living together?

Maybe that is why so many couples break up :^/
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: FIREstache on May 25, 2019, 04:04:43 PM
$80K???  That's a big chunk of your stache.  Turn tail and run.

because she asked him to pay it off for her?

missed that part.

You must have quoted the wrong post in your reply.  That had no bearing on my comment.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Spud on May 26, 2019, 12:48:40 AM
OP - Would you have even started this thread if the situation was identical to what it is now, but she didn't have any student loan debt, and you were just looking at $2k credit card debt and $2k savings? How you answer that question in your own head will tell you more (hopefully) than the responses you've received on this thread.

=====

The $2k and $2k intrigue me.

Did the credit card debt used to be $40k, and she's worked hard to pay it off? Or, like one of my close friends, has she been in $0.5k - £2k of credit card for the last 20 years, paying it off occasionally, but then it just creeps back up to what it was in the course of the next couple of months, rinse, repeat, rinse repeat?

The $2k of savings, was it amassed in a single month after she decided to try and start saving to turn things around, or was it saved 20 years ago and has been sat around gaining minmal interest for a long time and occasionally being used to pay off the low level perpetual credit card debt described above?

Forumites might find it absurd that some people do not have personalities that love doing tax research, spreadsheets, and math, but certain personality types really struggle with that stuff and it's like a giant brick wall for them.

I also feel that this needs addressing. None of this has to do with tax research or spreadsheets. As far as math is concerned it's simple. If you're not actually good at the math itself, just use a calculator and a pen and paper.

If you take home $2,000 a month, but you continually live off (spend) $2,000 - $2,500 a month, you're drowning. Alternatively, if you only live off $1,000 a month, then you're doing very well. This is the only level of maths she needs to understand.

This is what puts mustachians light years ahead of normal spendypants people. It's not math, or spreadsheets, or fancy investment strategies, or some greater understanding of economics. It's because they consistently SPEND LESS. When people say things like "I wish I was good with money." or "I wish I was financially savvy like you." it always amuses me, because money is not the issue. It's not money or anything fancy it's about spending. Plain and simple.

Spending less has nothing to do with money. Money is just notes, coins or more likely, numbers on some kind of screen. Spending less has everything to do with being able to curb the desire for all the goods and services that people typically buy with money. So when people talk about being good with money, what they really mean, although they obviously don't realise it, is being a non-spender.

There is no such thing as saving. There is spending or not spending.

There is no act of saving. What we typically think of as saving is simply the result of earning whatever you earn, and then NOT spending it all.

You're automatically left with a surplus as a result of inaction (not spending) not as a result of an action (saving). Some people think that saving is moving money into a "savings account". Wrong. That's just shuffling money around online. Any idiot can transfer money from account A, to account B, to account C, and back to account A again. What puts mustachians ahead of the game is that they have the ability to amass the money (not spend) to invest in the first place.

And if we talk about moving money into Vanguard, I don't see that as saving, I see that as investing. Saving, to me, is about building up the surplus to invest in the first place. Investing is something you don't even get to consider unless you can do the requisite saving.

All we have here on this thread is a solid mustachian falling in love with a normal spendypants person. $80k of debt is a massive problem. There are other big issues on the horizon. In the future, if children enter the equation, will they be raised to be mustachians or idiot level spenders? Which parent will get the most input in that? Will the OP be a fan of standing by and watching his offspring being encouraged to go into debt because that's just what people do? Will he be content with simple and cheap weekends away whilst she longs for some lavish foreign holiday twice a year?

It seems really cold and mercenary to think only in terms of people's financial compatibility, but the fact is, we live on a planet where money is the primary means of survival and of doing pretty much anything. When two people are financially incompatible it will seep into every other area of their life together, and undermine everything.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Malkynn on May 26, 2019, 05:08:57 AM

It seems really cold and mercenary to think only in terms of people's financial compatibility, but the fact is, we live on a planet where money is the primary means of survival and of doing pretty much anything. When two people are financially incompatible it will seep into every other area of their life together, and undermine everything.

The thing is, it isn't.

Yes, just focusing on money is useless, because money in and of itself doesn't mean anything.
However, money is a foundational aspect of every single decision in life.

Where you live, housing, career decisions, raising children, lifestyle decisions, how you deal with illness and injury, deciding to make major life changes, etc, etc, etc, are ALL underpinned by finances.

It's not just a simple matter of looking as someone's net worth and determining their value, that's insane. Two people with the same net worth can have wildly different financial values and life goals. Likewise, two people with drastically different NW can be tremendously compatible.

Debt isn't some dirty shame that makes a person less valuable, not at all, but how they choose to manage that debt, the reasons why they CHOSE to have that debt, and the impact it has on their future is kind of a HUGE DEAL, in terms of compatibility.

DH and I started out together almost the exact same ages as OP and GF, but with 420K in debt. It's been fine because we talk about it, we both understand where the debt came from, what the impact is on our careers, and the spending decisions necessary to manage it, and tackling it has been a huge bonding experience. We have no choice but to talk openly about money, and all money talk is actually life-planning talk.

Talking about life *is* talking about money, whether it's explicit or not, money underpins every single important decision in life.

People can stick their heads in the sand and pretend that money doesn't exist, but that's same as someone never going to the doctor and saying "but I'm really healthy".

Ignoring money doesn't change the fact that they are STILL making money decisions every day: where they work, where they live, what they eat, how they get places, what they wear, what they do with their hair, how they entertain themselves, etc, etc, etc

If everything is a financial decision, then finances fundamentally underpin all aspects of relationships. You simply can't really have an honest conversation about life choices without addressing the financial dimension.

It might be the norm to ignore finances and not talk openly about it in relationships, but it's also the norm to be drowning in debt, stressed out, and to fight with your spouse about finances...so...yeah

As many of us have said, the problem here isn't the debt, but money is very much the issue and it's a legitimate issue.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Spud on May 26, 2019, 05:17:17 AM
The thing is, it isn't.

Yes, just focusing on money is useless, because money in and of itself doesn't mean anything.
However, money is a foundational aspect of every single decision in life.

Malkynn - just to be clear, I wholeheartely agree with everything you've said. What you say in the quoted section above is exactly what I was trying to get at in parts of my post, although I understand it may have got lost in my ranting.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Malkynn on May 26, 2019, 05:18:30 AM
The thing is, it isn't.

Yes, just focusing on money is useless, because money in and of itself doesn't mean anything.
However, money is a foundational aspect of every single decision in life.

Malkynn - just to be clear, I wholeheartely agree with everything you've said. What you say in the quoted section above is exactly what I was trying to get at in parts of my post, although I understand it may have got lost in my ranting.

Nono, I was agreeing with your overall point.

I was using that as emphasis.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: frugaldrummer on May 26, 2019, 07:51:14 AM
Quote
She *thought* she was in a program that would forgive her loans? How can that oversight happen? Did they lie to her or did she not read through the offer letter thoroughly?

Everybody seems to not know the truth about this. Read some news articles - some ridiculously large percentage of people who were supposed to get loan forgiveness are getting screwed out of it - seriously, the vast majority, its ridiculous. My son just graduated and one option is a lesser-paying job which includes loan forgiveness - I've advised him not to include the loan forgiveness in the equation because the odds that he'll get it are tiny.

So - given that she has tons of company and is not alone in getting ripped off for her student loans, let's stop making this her fault, ok?

As for the other issues of where she's spending her money and why she doesn't have more savings, those are valid things to address. She's no different than most people in that regard, the question is just whether she can adopt a Mustachian mindset now?
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: frugaldrummer on May 26, 2019, 07:53:07 AM
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2018/09/24/public-service-loan-forgiveness-rejected/amp/
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: six-car-habit on May 26, 2019, 08:58:14 AM
In my suggestion the idea was they live together - but Both pay Half the rent [ which would equal less outlay monthly for both of them ] - and since they have been together >12 months - it would be a better determinant if they would be happy long term.  After a year of living together, if it didn't work out - than -no engagement...no renewal of the lease.

   I am a much "neater" person than my spouse. Her organization and placement of things is much more haphzard. Well, i can deal with it. its compromise, but i could only figure out i was willing to do that long term, by living together.

Does a long term relationship really require living together?

Maybe that is why so many couples break up :^/

  Hmmm, good point mistymoney  -  I suppose in my own life if i hadn't proposed marriage to my Ex-fiance' we would have broken up sooner -  there was a generalized time limit as to when the proposal needed to be made , or the relationship wasn't going to continue.  In retrospect, we would probably have divorced anyway.  And we lasted another 2 years after the proposal [with a 5 month breakup within that period] -   We were living together.

  I think age and maturity have a lot to do with continuing a long term relationship without marriage being the endgame. The original poster at 35 + 40 yrs old, may be past that point of "insecurity".   For me in that above mentioned relationship- i wanted a committed long term relationship, she wanted marriage.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mistymoney on May 26, 2019, 09:06:36 AM
Quote
She *thought* she was in a program that would forgive her loans? How can that oversight happen? Did they lie to her or did she not read through the offer letter thoroughly?

Everybody seems to not know the truth about this. Read some news articles - some ridiculously large percentage of people who were supposed to get loan forgiveness are getting screwed out of it - seriously, the vast majority, its ridiculous. My son just graduated and one option is a lesser-paying job which includes loan forgiveness - I've advised him not to include the loan forgiveness in the equation because the odds that he'll get it are tiny.

So - given that she has tons of company and is not alone in getting ripped off for her student loans, let's stop making this her fault, ok?

As for the other issues of where she's spending her money and why she doesn't have more savings, those are valid things to address. She's no different than most people in that regard, the question is just whether she can adopt a Mustachian mindset now?

This is a good point.

And also - it would be super depressing if she started on her 10-year loan forgiveness plans with only 50k of student debt. :(
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mistymoney on May 26, 2019, 09:30:15 AM
In my suggestion the idea was they live together - but Both pay Half the rent [ which would equal less outlay monthly for both of them ] - and since they have been together >12 months - it would be a better determinant if they would be happy long term.  After a year of living together, if it didn't work out - than -no engagement...no renewal of the lease.

   I am a much "neater" person than my spouse. Her organization and placement of things is much more haphzard. Well, i can deal with it. its compromise, but i could only figure out i was willing to do that long term, by living together.

Does a long term relationship really require living together?

Maybe that is why so many couples break up :^/

  Hmmm, good point mistymoney  -  I suppose in my own life if i hadn't proposed marriage to my Ex-fiance' we would have broken up sooner -  there was a generalized time limit as to when the proposal needed to be made , or the relationship wasn't going to continue.  In retrospect, we would probably have divorced anyway.  And we lasted another 2 years after the proposal [with a 5 month breakup within that period] -   We were living together.

  I think age and maturity have a lot to do with continuing a long term relationship without marriage being the endgame. The original poster at 35 + 40 yrs old, may be past that point of "insecurity".   For me in that above mentioned relationship- i wanted a committed long term relationship, she wanted marriage.

yeah - I think a couple of posters jumped on to the savings that could be realized if they moved in together, and certainly - have at it if that is what they want to do!!

But I didn't see OP mention that as a goal for either of them.

Moving in just to save money, or even rushing there if you would be emotionally more inclined to give it more time before getting to the point (even if that is your preferred endstate) would likely be a mistake.

Here, if OP wants to break up over this - he definitely should, and should do it quickly for both their sake. GF is not going to RE any time soon. If that is indeed a deal breaker, break the deal and move on.

Doesn't mean the GF is a terrible person, and she can definately turn this around, she can still retire in her early 60's with a nice nest egg. But she needs to get on with it. If OP can provide her with some information sources, and if she can apply those and start saving and digging out, that would great if.

If she can't muster herself to start on that path, then that is important info for OP.



Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Rosy on May 26, 2019, 09:56:13 AM

It seems really cold and mercenary to think only in terms of people's financial compatibility, but the fact is, we live on a planet where money is the primary means of survival and of doing pretty much anything. When two people are financially incompatible it will seep into every other area of their life together, and undermine everything.

The thing is, it isn't.

Yes, just focusing on money is useless, because money in and of itself doesn't mean anything.
However, money is a foundational aspect of every single decision in life.

Where you live, housing, career decisions, raising children, lifestyle decisions, how you deal with illness and injury, deciding to make major life changes, etc, etc, etc, are ALL underpinned by finances.

It's not just a simple matter of looking as someone's net worth and determining their value, that's insane. Two people with the same net worth can have wildly different financial values and life goals. Likewise, two people with drastically different NW can be tremendously compatible.

Debt isn't some dirty shame that makes a person less valuable, not at all, but how they choose to manage that debt, the reasons why they CHOSE to have that debt, and the impact it has on their future is kind of a HUGE DEAL, in terms of compatibility.

DH and I started out together almost the exact same ages as OP and GF, but with 420K in debt. It's been fine because we talk about it, we both understand where the debt came from, what the impact is on our careers, and the spending decisions necessary to manage it, and tackling it has been a huge bonding experience. We have no choice but to talk openly about money, and all money talk is actually life-planning talk.

Talking about life *is* talking about money, whether it's explicit or not, money underpins every single important decision in life.


People can stick their heads in the sand and pretend that money doesn't exist, but that's same as someone never going to the doctor and saying "but I'm really healthy".

Ignoring money doesn't change the fact that they are STILL making money decisions every day: where they work, where they live, what they eat, how they get places, what they wear, what they do with their hair, how they entertain themselves, etc, etc, etc

If everything is a financial decision, then finances fundamentally underpin all aspects of relationships. You simply can't really have an honest conversation about life choices without addressing the financial dimension.

It might be the norm to ignore finances and not talk openly about it in relationships, but it's also the norm to be drowning in debt, stressed out, and to fight with your spouse about finances...so...yeah

As many of us have said, the problem here isn't the debt, but money is very much the issue and it's a legitimate issue.

You've managed to totally confuse me Malkynn. In your very first response to the OP you basically read her the riot act and now this?
Are you saying that it is not at all mercenary to drop a relationship because of money?

I have to respectfully disagree with you.

You talked about being gobsmacked that several posters were suggesting the OP help her by moving in together. I am one of them, because it makes sense. You said you didn't think it was a good idea because when she told him about the debt, he almost broke up with her.
I don't think so, because he did not - but it gives me pause that he is now dithering and is looking for input from others.

The OP said he thinks of money as security first and foremost. She is not threatening his stash that he already accumulated and moving in together would benefit them both.
Of course, there is the elephant in the room - the assumption that due to her debt she might delay his fire plans. I think that it would not - if - all he does is guide her financially and she learns how to manage money better.
I did not suggest that he should pay her debts or help her in any other ways financially that might diminish his income.

I am all for assuming responsibility for your own debt, but I do not see where that precludes one from accepting help and obsess about learning how to do better - instead of having anxiety attacks about money - you have to face reality.
If you want to fix a problem you have to admit you have one. Right now it seems to me she is probably quite shaking, feeling helpless and condemned by the person she cares about.

I also mentioned that she should have second thoughts about this relationship as well - I'd want a partner that is there for me and is capable of rationally discussing a serious issue.
Even spendthrifts and people who blew it in their youth are capable of seeing the light and understanding that it is time for a change. People who hate money can learn to love money.
I can't imagine facing over $400K in debt like you and DH have - at the same age as the OP and GF. But, I lost that much in my forties so to me $80K requires only a five year plan and while not fun, can be easily dealt with.

Personally, what bothers me considerably more is that someone can run up $80K in student debt and then settle for a job at $65K.
That makes absolutely no sense to me.
That is neither here nor there, but it was one reason why I urged her to find a better paying position.

I agree with you on one thing though - life is all about choices. The choices we've made in the past have brought every one of us to where we are at exactly in this moment in time.
That doesn't mean one can't do a 360 and make different choices in the future at any time in their lives - I've seen people too scared to make a change and live to regret it.

Fear and debt can be paralyzing, but this is just money and can be tackled easily enough.
I'm not suggesting he take on her debt, but I am suggesting that he stop hyperventilating, take a deep breath and make a life choice.

[quote

I totally agree with Sword Guy:
author=SwordGuy link=topic=105304.msg2381217#msg2381217 date=1558750481]

You both have issues.   Since few people are perfect, that's pretty much par for the course.

Swordguy's first rule of helping people:

"Don't help people more than they help themselves."

You've gotten good advice on how to proceed with the relationship.   That's what I would do, proceed. 


Help her help herself out.  If she does that, she's could well be a keeper.  If she isn't willing to help herself, it's time to walk.

  Don't expect perfection right out the gate, it takes time to make changes to lifetime belief systems and habits.

And you've got some improving to do on your own self, so get to work.  That needs to be done regardless of who the woman in your life is.

[/quote]
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mistymoney on May 26, 2019, 10:16:11 AM
I might also add that I myself didn't know I was suppose to be saving and investing when I felt like I was poor and struggling. Saving was for later - when I had "extra" money.

I got the message about investing even small amounts early on and how that compounds, and then I started with a 401k. I was 35 when I started. 17 years later I have nearly 800k put away. (I do have slightly over 6 figure parent plus student loans to go with that! But I am very thankful for my current savings amount).

35 isn't that different from 40, and I sure didn't save a whole lot in those first 5 years (see "poor and struggling") - but I really have no fears for my retirement.

Although - I must say - after a couple of these mmm threads - that if I were to start dating someone and it seemed to be drifting a little serious and money might start being discussed - I will lead with my student loan balances and let that sit for a while. If they bail on that, good. I will know they are not compatible from a philosophical standpoint.

I'm certainly not one to bail anyone out, and would and have never asked anyone to help me. But I am also not going to get judgy on an otherwise self sufficient adult who I find in all other ways to be a good fit romantically and good company/conversation. As long as someone is willing to live within their own means without an interest in mine, I'm good. If they are counting on their 2500/month SS check to cover everything for them, who am I to say that isn't enough?

Maybe I'd take them on a vacay once in while.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Peachtea on May 26, 2019, 10:22:03 AM
80k in SL is totally manageable at her 65k a year and she’s not asking you to fix her finances so I don’t get why you’re freaking out. It’s not like you’re considering proposing...at that point yeah you would want to have some financial discussions before deciding to get engaged to make sure you’re on the same page going forward.

If you actually want to help her, ask if she wants help brainstorming ideas to handle the SL and reassure her that it can be done on her income and doesn’t need to be a scary, anxiety filled process. If she doesn’t want help then I’d back off and let her handle her own financial life the way she wants. It really doesn’t matter to your life unless you’re thinking marriage or she’s asking you to subsidize her life, which it doesn’t sound like either applies.

If she’s interested in ideas, some questions to ask to start research and brainstorming are 1) why were her loans not forgiveness eligible? 2) how many years left does she have for 20 year non-public service forgiveness if she has gov loans? 3) what would be the payment difference if she went on a standard 10 year payment plan vs her current payment? and 4) what’s her interest rates?

1) If she had direct loans (any kind of loan with word direct somewhere in the long version of the name) and she was just on the wrong payment plan, she should look at the temporary forgiveness program that congress made to fix that problem since so many loan servicers we’re giving borrowers wrong info.

https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service/temporary-expanded-public-service-loan-forgiveness

2) If she has FFEL loans and the loans itself were not eligible, then her options for forgiveness are do federal direct consolidation which would make her loans PSLF eligible in 10 years, or see how many years she has left for 20 year non public service year. In 20 year forgiveness the balance forgiven is taxed. But if she has been paying for say 15 years, it might be worth figuring out what she needs to do for 20 year forgiveness and how much the tax would be. Depending on years left for this option, it might make sense to make minimum payments and save the for the extra taxes rather than consolidate and start the 10 year mark over for PSLF (where the balance is not taxed).

3) how much more would she pay on the standard 10 year plan? How could she cut expenses to make these payments to be guaranteed to have these loans gone in 10 years? Is the difference low enough to make it worth not jumping through the hoops of PSLF (if she consolidated). Use the repayment estimator to run different scenarios.

https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/repaymentEstimator.action?_ga=2.178441444.1563316129.1558885096-832702481.1556456894

4) If her current interest rate is very high, what rate could she get with a private consolidation? How much would her payments for a 10 year plan be then? Does it lower payments enough that it makes more sense than doing one of the forgiveness plans? Understand that once you do private consolidation you permanently lose forgiveness eligibility...no changing your mind.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Padonak on May 26, 2019, 10:28:32 AM
Whatever you do, keep finances separate.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Malkynn on May 26, 2019, 10:40:03 AM

It seems really cold and mercenary to think only in terms of people's financial compatibility, but the fact is, we live on a planet where money is the primary means of survival and of doing pretty much anything. When two people are financially incompatible it will seep into every other area of their life together, and undermine everything.

The thing is, it isn't.

Yes, just focusing on money is useless, because money in and of itself doesn't mean anything.
However, money is a foundational aspect of every single decision in life.

Where you live, housing, career decisions, raising children, lifestyle decisions, how you deal with illness and injury, deciding to make major life changes, etc, etc, etc, are ALL underpinned by finances.

It's not just a simple matter of looking as someone's net worth and determining their value, that's insane. Two people with the same net worth can have wildly different financial values and life goals. Likewise, two people with drastically different NW can be tremendously compatible.

Debt isn't some dirty shame that makes a person less valuable, not at all, but how they choose to manage that debt, the reasons why they CHOSE to have that debt, and the impact it has on their future is kind of a HUGE DEAL, in terms of compatibility.

DH and I started out together almost the exact same ages as OP and GF, but with 420K in debt. It's been fine because we talk about it, we both understand where the debt came from, what the impact is on our careers, and the spending decisions necessary to manage it, and tackling it has been a huge bonding experience. We have no choice but to talk openly about money, and all money talk is actually life-planning talk.

Talking about life *is* talking about money, whether it's explicit or not, money underpins every single important decision in life.


People can stick their heads in the sand and pretend that money doesn't exist, but that's same as someone never going to the doctor and saying "but I'm really healthy".

Ignoring money doesn't change the fact that they are STILL making money decisions every day: where they work, where they live, what they eat, how they get places, what they wear, what they do with their hair, how they entertain themselves, etc, etc, etc

If everything is a financial decision, then finances fundamentally underpin all aspects of relationships. You simply can't really have an honest conversation about life choices without addressing the financial dimension.

It might be the norm to ignore finances and not talk openly about it in relationships, but it's also the norm to be drowning in debt, stressed out, and to fight with your spouse about finances...so...yeah

As many of us have said, the problem here isn't the debt, but money is very much the issue and it's a legitimate issue.

You've managed to totally confuse me Malkynn. In your very first response to the OP you basically read her the riot act and now this?
Are you saying that it is not at all mercenary to drop a relationship because of money?

I have to respectfully disagree with you.

You talked about being gobsmacked that several posters were suggesting the OP help her by moving in together. I am one of them, because it makes sense. You said you didn't think it was a good idea because when she told him about the debt, he almost broke up with her.
I don't think so, because he did not - but it gives me pause that he is now dithering and is looking for input from others.

The OP said he thinks of money as security first and foremost. She is not threatening his stash that he already accumulated and moving in together would benefit them both.
Of course, there is the elephant in the room - the assumption that due to her debt she might delay his fire plans. I think that it would not - if - all he does is guide her financially and she learns how to manage money better.
I did not suggest that he should pay her debts or help her in any other ways financially that might diminish his income.

I am all for assuming responsibility for your own debt, but I do not see where that precludes one from accepting help and obsess about learning how to do better - instead of having anxiety attacks about money - you have to face reality.
If you want to fix a problem you have to admit you have one. Right now it seems to me she is probably quite shaking, feeling helpless and condemned by the person she cares about.

I also mentioned that she should have second thoughts about this relationship as well - I'd want a partner that is there for me and is capable of rationally discussing a serious issue.
Even spendthrifts and people who blew it in their youth are capable of seeing the light and understanding that it is time for a change. People who hate money can learn to love money.
I can't imagine facing over $400K in debt like you and DH have - at the same age as the OP and GF. But, I lost that much in my forties so to me $80K requires only a five year plan and while not fun, can be easily dealt with.

Personally, what bothers me considerably more is that someone can run up $80K in student debt and then settle for a job at $65K.
That makes absolutely no sense to me.
That is neither here nor there, but it was one reason why I urged her to find a better paying position.

I agree with you on one thing though - life is all about choices. The choices we've made in the past have brought every one of us to where we are at exactly in this moment in time.
That doesn't mean one can't do a 360 and make different choices in the future at any time in their lives - I've seen people too scared to make a change and live to regret it.

Fear and debt can be paralyzing, but this is just money and can be tackled easily enough.
I'm not suggesting he take on her debt, but I am suggesting that he stop hyperventilating, take a deep breath and make a life choice.

[quote

I totally agree with Sword Guy:
author=SwordGuy link=topic=105304.msg2381217#msg2381217 date=1558750481]

You both have issues.   Since few people are perfect, that's pretty much par for the course.

Swordguy's first rule of helping people:

"Don't help people more than they help themselves."

You've gotten good advice on how to proceed with the relationship.   That's what I would do, proceed. 


Help her help herself out.  If she does that, she's could well be a keeper.  If she isn't willing to help herself, it's time to walk.

  Don't expect perfection right out the gate, it takes time to make changes to lifetime belief systems and habits.

And you've got some improving to do on your own self, so get to work.  That needs to be done regardless of who the woman in your life is.

[/quote]

I have absolutely no judgement of this woman for her financial situation and net worth, but I see huge red flags in terms of taking responsibility and communication.
She's 40, her plan for her debt turned out to not work and she has no savings and freaks out talking about it.

Hell, I'd be less concerned if she said "I used to be shit with money and I didn't really look closely into loan forgiveness, but I'm really working on it now, you seem good with money, can you help me learn?"

I think it's absolutely insane to break up with someone because of their level of wealth (or lack thereof), but I do not consider it mercenary to break up with someone who has wildly different financial values.

I've broken up with several men who made it clear that a life of very long hours, putting their career first, and making as much money as possible was their priority. I've never wanted that life. Likewise, I've always refused to date gamblers, because it conflicts with my financial values.

That's not mercenary.
Caring about someone's financial values is not mercenary, it's about compatibility.

I also totally agree with you about her having pause about dating OP. OP's reaction is actually the bigger of the red flags to me.

I've said it multiple times, the debt is not the problem here. The problem is the reactions and behaviours. If these two had amazing communication and aligned values, this debt would be a non issue.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mistymoney on May 26, 2019, 11:22:40 AM
Quote

Hell, I'd be less concerned if she said "I used to be shit with money and I didn't really look closely into loan forgiveness, but I'm really working on it now, you seem good with money, can you help me learn?"



How do we know that this is not something she has said? more or less?

OP only signed up here for this posting - and has not provided any additional details at all - despite wild speculation in all forms.

Perhaps he was merely looking for validation to break up - and if so - he has got it.

OP, please break up with GF - you can both find more suitable partners, and you should give yourselves maximum opportunities to do so.

Having reread the OP - I am convinced this is the best action.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Malkynn on May 26, 2019, 02:08:53 PM
Quote

Hell, I'd be less concerned if she said "I used to be shit with money and I didn't really look closely into loan forgiveness, but I'm really working on it now, you seem good with money, can you help me learn?"



How do we know that this is not something she has said? more or less?

OP only signed up here for this posting - and has not provided any additional details at all - despite wild speculation in all forms.

Perhaps he was merely looking for validation to break up - and if so - he has got it.

OP, please break up with GF - you can both find more suitable partners, and you should give yourselves maximum opportunities to do so.

Having reread the OP - I am convinced this is the best action.

OP indicated she was resistant to talking about it.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Rosy on May 26, 2019, 03:47:00 PM
Good points Malkynn - it's just that I don't see huge red flags in communication and taking responsibility - yet.
Opening up and fessing up about your entire financial picture is scary enough when you are doing well - when you know you screwed up - it is ten times worse especially when you are beginning to realize you've met someone who is financially responsible, savvy beyond what you can muster and you are realizing you may lose someone you care about, because of your financial situation.

Agreed - the sooner he decides whether he is done with this relationship or is ready to support her in fixing her finances the better.
Same goes for her, if it appears this will remain a bone of contention for eternity - this is not the right guy for you - because he'll never get over it and who in their right mind wants to put up with that while trying to dig out from under.

mistymoney - indeed, we don't know what else or how much more was said. It is entirely possible OP came here strictly looking for validation nothing more because he's decided in his heart of hearts that this is a deal breaker for him.

Wishing both of them good luck going forward - many of us have been there and did just fine or downright awesome despite a once dire $ situation.
I'm glad I haven't been hurt by guys? or girls? like those who posted to flat out drop the relationship. I would have been devastated.
To the contrary, I've had some fine offers during bad financial times but it isn't about the money - ever. In the end, it is about finding a good life partner.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Cassie on May 27, 2019, 12:33:51 PM
I met my husband at 44 and he was 39. His finances were a mess due to a divorce and some bad decisions.  Due to a job loss he wasn’t opening his mail and putting his head in the sand.  He took 2 crappy minimum wage jobs despite being a engineer, went on a antidepressant and went to consumer credit counseling for help. They negotiated CC rates down and he slowly dug out. I made it clear I wouldn’t think about marriage until resolved. After 2 years he found a high paying job in his field. 20 years later we are very happy.  To me compatiblity is more important than money so long as the person changes their ways.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Bartleby_the_Scrivener on May 27, 2019, 07:59:58 PM
A few takeaways from your post:

You are using *we* and thinking future, which is a good sign
 Have you personally considered marrying this woman and taking savings you have built up to eliminate this debt that is giving you anxiety? Is she as bothered by the debt as you are?

She *thought* she was in a program that would forgive her loans? How can that oversight happen? Did they lie to her or did she not read through the offer letter thoroughly?

Oh well, it only takes a little bit of Google-fu to figure THAT one out.  The vast majority of people who have applied for loan forgiveness have been denied.  The rules are confusing and the banks...not exactly truthful.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/01/03/student-loan-forgiveness-data/#45353cce68d0

Yeah, Michael Lewis did a whole podcast on that a few months back. https://app.stitcher.com/splayer/f/382761/59929889 The rules are intentionally vague, and the company that services the loans has a vested interest in people not having them forgiven.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mistymoney on May 28, 2019, 09:57:53 AM
A few takeaways from your post:

You are using *we* and thinking future, which is a good sign
 Have you personally considered marrying this woman and taking savings you have built up to eliminate this debt that is giving you anxiety? Is she as bothered by the debt as you are?

She *thought* she was in a program that would forgive her loans? How can that oversight happen? Did they lie to her or did she not read through the offer letter thoroughly?

Oh well, it only takes a little bit of Google-fu to figure THAT one out.  The vast majority of people who have applied for loan forgiveness have been denied.  The rules are confusing and the banks...not exactly truthful.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/01/03/student-loan-forgiveness-data/#45353cce68d0

Yeah, Michael Lewis did a whole podcast on that a few months back. https://app.stitcher.com/splayer/f/382761/59929889 The rules are intentionally vague, and the company that services the loans has a vested interest in people not having them forgiven.

ugh! the entire student loan business is just rotten.

And it is the average-type families and just-starting-out young adults who pay a heavy toll on it.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Goldielocks on May 28, 2019, 10:33:19 AM
$80K???  That's a big chunk of your stache.  Turn tail and run.

Not required!   Just think of her as earning $35k in a non-profit job.     Would you still want to live with someone who only earns $35k?   I would hope that a smaller income would not put you off a partner, if they are not in CC debt or mis managing it all in general.   Sounds like she had a plan for the student loan, but screwed up on the verification and it bit her hard 4 months ago.  Anyone would be stressed to discover  they lost that.             l"

Steps:  (Help her to...)
1)  Set up automatic SL payments
2) Set up automatic retirement Savings
3) Set up automatic emergency savings (or pay off CC, etc)

Live on the rest.

With automatic payments, she can certainly continue to NOT think about money or her debt.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Spud on May 28, 2019, 12:06:32 PM
Yea
With automatic payments, she can certainly continue to NOT think about money or her debt.

Yeah but the big question is, will she be prepared to sacrifice what has clearly been treated as disposable income up until now, in order to fund the automatic payments that you talk about?

Your theory is great, but in practice, it's not just maths. We're dealing with someone's entire mental model of the world here. That mental model would likely have to undergo an enormous shift in order to do what you're suggesting.

This is someone who, at age 40, relative to all the money they've earned over their enter life, has managed to keep hold of a negligible proportion of it. Knowing that, do you think it's going to be easy for her to suddenly shift into using, say, 50% of her take-home pay to fund the 3 types of automatic payment you list in your post?
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: GetItRight on May 29, 2019, 12:17:39 PM
She's not a huge spender but she's made some big mistakes with money. Most notably, she works in non-profit and thought she was in a program that would forgive her loan after 10 years. As she approached the 10 year mark, she discovered she was not repaying under the right program, so her loan will not be forgiven any time soon. She was devastated when she found out and it's been a huge source of anxiety for her.

Depending on how you structure your finances, nothing really changes. Proceed with the relationship, if you move in together she'll be able to pay off the debt faster. Do not get married or become financially liable for her, do not pay her debts. No reason you can't have a happy life together if you are both otherwise happy together. Keep finances separate and help her with a plan and timeline for repayment.

The quoted section above is a big red flag though. This woman thinks it's okay to steal nearly $100k from someone. That's reprehensible and would be the end of it for me. I despise thieves. It doesn't matter if it's $1 or $1 million, theft is wrong. I will not be friends, much less spend the rest of my life, with someone who does not respect property rights.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: tweezers on May 29, 2019, 02:05:25 PM
She's not a huge spender but she's made some big mistakes with money. Most notably, she works in non-profit and thought she was in a program that would forgive her loan after 10 years. As she approached the 10 year mark, she discovered she was not repaying under the right program, so her loan will not be forgiven any time soon. She was devastated when she found out and it's been a huge source of anxiety for her.

Depending on how you structure your finances, nothing really changes. Proceed with the relationship, if you move in together she'll be able to pay off the debt faster. Do not get married or become financially liable for her, do not pay her debts. No reason you can't have a happy life together if you are both otherwise happy together. Keep finances separate and help her with a plan and timeline for repayment.

The quoted section above is a big red flag though. This woman thinks it's okay to steal nearly $100k from someone. That's reprehensible and would be the end of it for me. I despise thieves. It doesn't matter if it's $1 or $1 million, theft is wrong. I will not be friends, much less spend the rest of my life, with someone who does not respect property rights.

Is this intended as sarcasm or a statement on the loan forgiveness program?  Do you not understand how the loan forgiveness program works?
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Malkynn on May 29, 2019, 02:19:04 PM
She's not a huge spender but she's made some big mistakes with money. Most notably, she works in non-profit and thought she was in a program that would forgive her loan after 10 years. As she approached the 10 year mark, she discovered she was not repaying under the right program, so her loan will not be forgiven any time soon. She was devastated when she found out and it's been a huge source of anxiety for her.

Depending on how you structure your finances, nothing really changes. Proceed with the relationship, if you move in together she'll be able to pay off the debt faster. Do not get married or become financially liable for her, do not pay her debts. No reason you can't have a happy life together if you are both otherwise happy together. Keep finances separate and help her with a plan and timeline for repayment.

The quoted section above is a big red flag though. This woman thinks it's okay to steal nearly $100k from someone. That's reprehensible and would be the end of it for me. I despise thieves. It doesn't matter if it's $1 or $1 million, theft is wrong. I will not be friends, much less spend the rest of my life, with someone who does not respect property rights.

Is this intended as sarcasm or a statement on the loan forgiveness program?  Do you not understand how the loan forgiveness program works?

I just read it, shook my head and said "the internet makes no damn sense"
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Goldielocks on May 29, 2019, 04:26:19 PM
Yea
With automatic payments, she can certainly continue to NOT think about money or her debt.

Yeah but the big question is, will she be prepared to sacrifice what has clearly been treated as disposable income up until now, in order to fund the automatic payments that you talk about?

Your theory is great, but in practice, it's not just maths. We're dealing with someone's entire mental model of the world here. That mental model would likely have to undergo an enormous shift in order to do what you're suggesting.

This is someone who, at age 40, relative to all the money they've earned over their enter life, has managed to keep hold of a negligible proportion of it. Knowing that, do you think it's going to be easy for her to suddenly shift into using, say, 50% of her take-home pay to fund the 3 types of automatic payment you list in your post?

Sadly, there are many, many people like this.   AND many more single women are like this than men.  I don't know why so many women (and some men) think it is OK to have $1000 or less, total net assets at age 30 (even excluding SL debt).   It's like they think that they don't need to save like adults until their "real life" begins when they settle down.

The good news is that she thought she had a plan, and did not rack up cc debt while spending all her money.

If she automatically save off the top, there is no problem with cotinuing to spend down the remainder (in her own account)... as long as she intends to work for many more years.

If we narrow our search only to people with FT jobs, paying their own way (which she is), no cc debt, AND financailly savvy savers... I gotta tell you, that this reduces the dating field a lot...   many of the MMM's here have a spouse that is more than content to let their SO's take care of the money side.

OP -- your challenge will be if you want to have kids.. at that point, you will need to either absorb some of her SL debt to pay it off, or take time off work yourself, or pay fully for the child care yourself / expanded apartment, kid costs, etc.   
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: JTColton on May 30, 2019, 09:42:39 AM
If we narrow our search only to people with FT jobs, paying their own way (which she is), no cc debt, AND financailly savvy savers... I gotta tell you, that this reduces the dating field a lot...   many of the MMM's here have a spouse that is more than content to let their SO's take care of the money side.

OP -- your challenge will be if you want to have kids.. at that point, you will need to either absorb some of her SL debt to pay it off, or take time off work yourself, or pay fully for the child care yourself / expanded apartment, kid costs, etc.

It reduces it quite a bit, but if you're in the top percentile yourself why wouldn't you exercise your options? I never understood the tendency of high quality people to settle when they could do much better for themselves. If someone is in a dead end job that doesn't pay well, we don't wring hands when they leave we congratulate them. So if someone is in a relationship with someone who obviously doesn't share their outlook or priorities on life, why the difference?

The fact of the matter is that a 35 y/o man with a good job, his finances in check, and even a remotely interesting life is in a position to choose, not be chosen.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Hula Hoop on May 30, 2019, 12:20:07 PM
If we narrow our search only to people with FT jobs, paying their own way (which she is), no cc debt, AND financailly savvy savers... I gotta tell you, that this reduces the dating field a lot...   many of the MMM's here have a spouse that is more than content to let their SO's take care of the money side.

OP -- your challenge will be if you want to have kids.. at that point, you will need to either absorb some of her SL debt to pay it off, or take time off work yourself, or pay fully for the child care yourself / expanded apartment, kid costs, etc.

It reduces it quite a bit, but if you're in the top percentile yourself why wouldn't you exercise your options? I never understood the tendency of high quality people to settle when they could do much better for themselves. If someone is in a dead end job that doesn't pay well, we don't wring hands when they leave we congratulate them. So if someone is in a relationship with someone who obviously doesn't share their outlook or priorities on life, why the difference?

The fact of the matter is that a 35 y/o man with a good job, his finances in check, and even a remotely interesting life is in a position to choose, not be chosen.

The reality is that for most of us human relationships aren't all about money.  You talk about the OP being in the "top percentile" and "high quality people".  For many of us, income, wealth and savings are not a big factor in judging who is a "high quality" person for us.  My husband grew up poor and still earns a low income (although he works really hard).  That was simply not a factor for me when we met and married.  Our values align and we truly love each other.   I've dated very high earning men who would have made me miserable.  Everyone's priorities are different and I find it kind of horrifying that you'd see someone's finances (good job and finances in check) as being indicative of their 'value' on the dating market.  Having similar values about finances are one thing (and there is no indication that the OP's girlfriend is running out and buying brand new cars every year) but income and wealth are quite another.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: DadJokes on May 30, 2019, 12:59:58 PM
If we narrow our search only to people with FT jobs, paying their own way (which she is), no cc debt, AND financailly savvy savers... I gotta tell you, that this reduces the dating field a lot...   many of the MMM's here have a spouse that is more than content to let their SO's take care of the money side.

OP -- your challenge will be if you want to have kids.. at that point, you will need to either absorb some of her SL debt to pay it off, or take time off work yourself, or pay fully for the child care yourself / expanded apartment, kid costs, etc.

It reduces it quite a bit, but if you're in the top percentile yourself why wouldn't you exercise your options? I never understood the tendency of high quality people to settle when they could do much better for themselves. If someone is in a dead end job that doesn't pay well, we don't wring hands when they leave we congratulate them. So if someone is in a relationship with someone who obviously doesn't share their outlook or priorities on life, why the difference?

The fact of the matter is that a 35 y/o man with a good job, his finances in check, and even a remotely interesting life is in a position to choose, not be chosen.

Finances are only a part of finding a significant other. Take everything Goldilocks mentioned, then add in agreement regarding religion, politics, child-rearing plans, and physical attraction. There may not be a perfect match, or it may take decades to find one. One must make compromises. I'm fortunate that my wife allows me to handle the finances as I see fit and provided no push-back when I started saving half of our income. We disagree in other areas to though, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Kris on May 30, 2019, 01:07:13 PM
If we narrow our search only to people with FT jobs, paying their own way (which she is), no cc debt, AND financailly savvy savers... I gotta tell you, that this reduces the dating field a lot...   many of the MMM's here have a spouse that is more than content to let their SO's take care of the money side.

OP -- your challenge will be if you want to have kids.. at that point, you will need to either absorb some of her SL debt to pay it off, or take time off work yourself, or pay fully for the child care yourself / expanded apartment, kid costs, etc.

It reduces it quite a bit, but if you're in the top percentile yourself why wouldn't you exercise your options? I never understood the tendency of high quality people to settle when they could do much better for themselves. If someone is in a dead end job that doesn't pay well, we don't wring hands when they leave we congratulate them. So if someone is in a relationship with someone who obviously doesn't share their outlook or priorities on life, why the difference?

The fact of the matter is that a 35 y/o man with a good job, his finances in check, and even a remotely interesting life is in a position to choose, not be chosen.

The reality is that for most of us human relationships aren't all about money.  You talk about the OP being in the "top percentile" and "high quality people".  For many of us, income, wealth and savings are not a big factor in judging who is a "high quality" person for us.  My husband grew up poor and still earns a low income (although he works really hard).  That was simply not a factor for me when we met and married.  Our values align and we truly love each other.   I've dated very high earning men who would have made me miserable.  Everyone's priorities are different and I find it kind of horrifying that you'd see someone's finances (good job and finances in check) as being indicative of their 'value' on the dating market.  Having similar values about finances are one thing (and there is no indication that the OP's girlfriend is running out and buying brand new cars every year) but income and wealth are quite another.

My ex-husband also had a tendency to use phrases like “high quality people” to describe/categorize individual humans as more worthy/worthwhile and less so. It made me incredibly uncomfortable, for the reasons you state here.

We ultimately divorced in part  for reasons quite related to this — including his tendency to dismiss and even discount the worth of anyone he deemed “not high quality.” And the same implication that high quality people are choosers. Not people to be chosen. Feels very patronizing to me. I would not, and did not, want to be in a relationship with someone who felt as though he, as a high quality person, was better than me, or somehow “deserved” a deluxe model “high quality” partner in the same way that one might say they deserved a BMW instead of a Hyundai.

Interestingly, I’m guessing Donald Trump would have fallen into his category of “high quality,” at least if his wealth is what he says it is. I personally do not think of Trump as a high quality person.

(Also interestingly, I have heard Trump himself use this exact same expression. In the exact same way.)

Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Roks on May 30, 2019, 02:21:23 PM
I didn't start making significant strides and learning how to manage my money wisely until I was in my early 40s.  Yes, I know for many on this forum, that's a no-no, but look - life happens.  Some of us have other challenges that take an emotional toll on us.  I always wanted to pay off my student debts and was making strides, but still had a long way to go. 

What helped me was my ex-boyfriend's frugality.  I know it may sound strange, but I didn't know I could cut out the expenses that I did. I didn't know that was possible until he came into my life and was a role model. Watching him with his spending taught me that I could do the same.  While he and I had other problems, and while I didn't completely agree with his money management, his frugality, coupled with my personal interest in debt-payoff and investment matters, helped me quite a bit! It was around that time that I heard about MMM and JL Collins.

Everyone is teachable. Sometimes we don't know what we don't know, no matter our age. There are times in our lives when we need someone to guide us.  Maybe you can guide her on money management and come up with a plan for her to pay off her debt.  It will be up to her (not you) to follow that plan. 

Give this a try. If it doesn't work, I agree with others it will be difficult to continue because it will be an issue of different values. However, I disagree with others that you should write her off right now because she showed signs of irresponsibility at age 40. Many of us have been irresponsible, many of us have turned things around and many of us have lived and learned.  Such is life. Best of luck to you.
 
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Kris on May 30, 2019, 02:29:23 PM
I didn't start making significant strides and learning how to manage my money wisely until I was in my early 40s.  Yes, I know for many on this forum, that's a no-no, but look - life happens.  Some of us have other challenges that take an emotional toll on us.  I always wanted to pay off my student debts and was making strides, but still had a long way to go. 

What helped me was my ex-boyfriend's frugality.  I know it may sound strange, but I didn't know I could cut out the expenses that I did. I didn't know that was possible until he came into my life and was a role model. Watching him with his spending taught me that I could do the same.  While he and I had other problems, and while I didn't completely agree with his money management, his frugality, coupled with my personal interest in debt-payoff and investment matters, helped me quite a bit! It was around that time that I heard about MMM and JL Collins.

Everyone is teachable. Sometimes we don't know what we don't know, no matter our age. There are times in our lives when we need someone to guide us.  Maybe you can guide her on money management and come up with a plan for her to pay off her debt.  It will be up to her (not you) to follow that plan. 

Give this a try. If it doesn't work, I agree with others it will be difficult to continue because it will be an issue of different values. However, I disagree with others that you should write her off right now because she showed signs of irresponsibility at age 40. Many of us have been irresponsible, many of us have turned things around and many of us have lived and learned.  Such is life. Best of luck to you.

Agreed. When I met my husband, he was 48 and $45,000 in debt.

Thirteen years later, we are FI and he just retired three months ago.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Roks on May 30, 2019, 02:46:08 PM
I didn't start making significant strides and learning how to manage my money wisely until I was in my early 40s.  Yes, I know for many on this forum, that's a no-no, but look - life happens.  Some of us have other challenges that take an emotional toll on us.  I always wanted to pay off my student debts and was making strides, but still had a long way to go. 

What helped me was my ex-boyfriend's frugality.  I know it may sound strange, but I didn't know I could cut out the expenses that I did. I didn't know that was possible until he came into my life and was a role model. Watching him with his spending taught me that I could do the same.  While he and I had other problems, and while I didn't completely agree with his money management, his frugality, coupled with my personal interest in debt-payoff and investment matters, helped me quite a bit! It was around that time that I heard about MMM and JL Collins.

Everyone is teachable. Sometimes we don't know what we don't know, no matter our age. There are times in our lives when we need someone to guide us.  Maybe you can guide her on money management and come up with a plan for her to pay off her debt.  It will be up to her (not you) to follow that plan. 

Give this a try. If it doesn't work, I agree with others it will be difficult to continue because it will be an issue of different values. However, I disagree with others that you should write her off right now because she showed signs of irresponsibility at age 40. Many of us have been irresponsible, many of us have turned things around and many of us have lived and learned.  Such is life. Best of luck to you.

Agreed. When I met my husband, he was 48 and $45,000 in debt.

Thirteen years later, we are FI and he just retired three months ago.


Well done!!! That's inspirational on many levels. 
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Hula Hoop on May 30, 2019, 03:23:33 PM
I didn't start making significant strides and learning how to manage my money wisely until I was in my early 40s.  Yes, I know for many on this forum, that's a no-no, but look - life happens.  Some of us have other challenges that take an emotional toll on us.  I always wanted to pay off my student debts and was making strides, but still had a long way to go. 

What helped me was my ex-boyfriend's frugality.  I know it may sound strange, but I didn't know I could cut out the expenses that I did. I didn't know that was possible until he came into my life and was a role model. Watching him with his spending taught me that I could do the same.  While he and I had other problems, and while I didn't completely agree with his money management, his frugality, coupled with my personal interest in debt-payoff and investment matters, helped me quite a bit! It was around that time that I heard about MMM and JL Collins.

Everyone is teachable. Sometimes we don't know what we don't know, no matter our age. There are times in our lives when we need someone to guide us.  Maybe you can guide her on money management and come up with a plan for her to pay off her debt.  It will be up to her (not you) to follow that plan. 

Give this a try. If it doesn't work, I agree with others it will be difficult to continue because it will be an issue of different values. However, I disagree with others that you should write her off right now because she showed signs of irresponsibility at age 40. Many of us have been irresponsible, many of us have turned things around and many of us have lived and learned.  Such is life. Best of luck to you.

Agreed. When I met my husband, he was 48 and $45,000 in debt.

Thirteen years later, we are FI and he just retired three months ago.

I agree - congrats to you both.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: cheaplynn on May 30, 2019, 07:00:02 PM
LONG POST WARNING:

Hooooo boy, do I FEEL this situation. At 33, I was struck by lightning when I met my partner. I knew from the first day I met him that he and I were meant for each other (and I'm no pollyanna -- I've been in a long-term partnership had several other healthy shorter relationships, a 33-going-on-50 kinda girl.) I knew this man was the one for me. There were complications -- age difference, distance, previous marriages, etc -- but things that had once seemed dealbreakers were suddenly just parts of the relationship to work through.

And while I also knew that he made less money than me, but I had no idea about the REAL realities of his financial situation until a year and a half into our relationship. All was revealed on a post-dinner walk when he broke down (yes, into tears) and admitted that he had significant debt. I, like most people here, have been suuuuuuper responsible with money -- hearing that he had, all told, around $40k in debt (mostly credit card, ouch, plus about $8k on his ex-wife's car, lovely) (PLUS $1400/mo in child support) made my guts clench. He was 47 at the time. I spent months in a panic: how could we have a future together with this burden? How am I supposed to help him with this problem?? Did I even know who he truly was??!

Once I got over my own panic and started to have gentle, awkward conversations with money, I certainly gained more empathy -- it was the bumps in his own life (divorce and child support) that put him in this situation. [Much like your gf's student loans and small CC debt. Like others have said, it's well documented that student loan servicers routinely provide misinformation/straight up lie to their customers in order to prevent pay-off programs. As a person working in the public sector as well, I'm familiar with her program, and I know that a tiny fraction of people actually benefit from the 120 payment loan forgiveness program because of these shady servicers]

For us/me, I eventually decided that our future together was more important than short-term savings. He moved in to my apartment, and I continued to pay my housing as normal. I could afford it before, and I can afford it now. While we split groceries, I pick up most of the tabs for eating out and other luxuries. On top of this, I have also buckled down to save more cash to help for his debts. I know that many people would disagree with this--I didn't think I would at first, either, don't @ me -- but this is going to significantly help. On top of everything else I've paid for, I've also socked away an additional $10 in cash, which I will be dumping into his biggest credit card. I plan to do it again next year. By doing this, we will have everything paid off by the end of 2020. CLEAN SLATE CITY, USA.

Look, I know that I've been doing the right thing; I know he's made bad decisions about money. I, too, have struggled with him making extraneous purchases. But through this process, we've had many conversations about money -- at first, difficult and awkward, but by now, easier and more natural. Both his and my own lazy money habits have come under new scrutiny, for the benefit of both of us. For example: those unnecessary splurges that have always made me bristle (for him, records) have become a point of actual discussion. And through this discussion/transparency, his habits have changed. Ultimately, our relationship is SO much better for it.

There are people in this thread that would/do say 'run,' but that disregards the actual humanity of the situation. People are more important than money. Our relationships are more important than money. We work hard and save hard so that we can enjoy more time with the people that are important to us. My goal is to retire at the same time as my partner. His military pension kicks in at 60, and he's 12 years older than me. I'd like to be able to work at least part-time starting at 48 at that point. We've got 10 years to buckle down and use these newfound skills of money communication and frugality as a couple.

Dealing with my partner's debt has just made it clearer how much I love him, and how committed we are for the long term. You wouldn't be panicking about your gf's debt if you weren't imagining a serious, long-term future with her, either. Right now, your girlfriend's debt brings her panic and shame. Let her know how much you love her, that you love her more than you love your money, and that you are her partner in navigating this situation.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: FIREstache on May 30, 2019, 07:43:36 PM
She's not a huge spender but she's made some big mistakes with money. Most notably, she works in non-profit and thought she was in a program that would forgive her loan after 10 years. As she approached the 10 year mark, she discovered she was not repaying under the right program, so her loan will not be forgiven any time soon. She was devastated when she found out and it's been a huge source of anxiety for her.

Depending on how you structure your finances, nothing really changes. Proceed with the relationship, if you move in together she'll be able to pay off the debt faster. Do not get married or become financially liable for her, do not pay her debts. No reason you can't have a happy life together if you are both otherwise happy together. Keep finances separate and help her with a plan and timeline for repayment.

The quoted section above is a big red flag though. This woman thinks it's okay to steal nearly $100k from someone. That's reprehensible and would be the end of it for me. I despise thieves. It doesn't matter if it's $1 or $1 million, theft is wrong. I will not be friends, much less spend the rest of my life, with someone who does not respect property rights.

Is this intended as sarcasm or a statement on the loan forgiveness program?  Do you not understand how the loan forgiveness program works?

In other threads, he has called taxes and welfare theft, and has repeatedly called Social Security welfare.  So his comment here is right in line with that.  Sol had one explanation for the comments in this post:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/anyone-consider-social-security-'bend-points'-for-deciding-when-to-fire/msg2384701/#msg2384701
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mistymoney on May 31, 2019, 07:15:14 AM
If we narrow our search only to people with FT jobs, paying their own way (which she is), no cc debt, AND financailly savvy savers... I gotta tell you, that this reduces the dating field a lot...   many of the MMM's here have a spouse that is more than content to let their SO's take care of the money side.

OP -- your challenge will be if you want to have kids.. at that point, you will need to either absorb some of her SL debt to pay it off, or take time off work yourself, or pay fully for the child care yourself / expanded apartment, kid costs, etc.

It reduces it quite a bit, but if you're in the top percentile yourself why wouldn't you exercise your options? I never understood the tendency of high quality people to settle when they could do much better for themselves. If someone is in a dead end job that doesn't pay well, we don't wring hands when they leave we congratulate them. So if someone is in a relationship with someone who obviously doesn't share their outlook or priorities on life, why the difference?

The fact of the matter is that a 35 y/o man with a good job, his finances in check, and even a remotely interesting life is in a position to choose, not be chosen.

The reality is that for most of us human relationships aren't all about money.  You talk about the OP being in the "top percentile" and "high quality people".  For many of us, income, wealth and savings are not a big factor in judging who is a "high quality" person for us. My husband grew up poor and still earns a low income (although he works really hard).  That was simply not a factor for me when we met and married.  Our values align and we truly love each other.   I've dated very high earning men who would have made me miserable.  Everyone's priorities are different and I find it kind of horrifying that you'd see someone's finances (good job and finances in check) as being indicative of their 'value' on the dating market.  Having similar values about finances are one thing (and there is no indication that the OP's girlfriend is running out and buying brand new cars every year) but income and wealth are quite another.

wow - yeah - thank you. was getting a little worried about joining this forum......

I have soooo many expectations about a potential partner, but very few around money. And a lot of those are not something you could really cultivate or develop (whereas money habits are!). I need someone with a high level of raw intelligence, and to have that refined/tempered through a large measure of education. Not willing to put up with the smartest-person-from-5th-grade-and-decades-later-think-I-know-more-than-prominent-phds-about-their-field type arrogance. Kind and funny, a bit artistic, kind of good looking, keeping fit, nice package, skill in the sack. That's a lot to ask for!


For money - Just someone relatively decent around money - not deceptive or leachy of course, and relatively self-sufficient. Someone who pays their own way in life.


Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mistymoney on May 31, 2019, 07:37:58 AM
LONG POST WARNING:

Hooooo boy, do I FEEL this situation. At 33, I was struck by lightning when I met my partner. I knew from the first day I met him that he and I were meant for each other (and I'm no pollyanna -- I've been in a long-term partnership had several other healthy shorter relationships, a 33-going-on-50 kinda girl.) I knew this man was the one for me. There were complications -- age difference, distance, previous marriages, etc -- but things that had once seemed dealbreakers were suddenly just parts of the relationship to work through.

And while I also knew that he made less money than me, but I had no idea about the REAL realities of his financial situation until a year and a half into our relationship. All was revealed on a post-dinner walk when he broke down (yes, into tears) and admitted that he had significant debt. I, like most people here, have been suuuuuuper responsible with money -- hearing that he had, all told, around $40k in debt (mostly credit card, ouch, plus about $8k on his ex-wife's car, lovely) (PLUS $1400/mo in child support) made my guts clench. He was 47 at the time. I spent months in a panic: how could we have a future together with this burden? How am I supposed to help him with this problem?? Did I even know who he truly was??!

Once I got over my own panic and started to have gentle, awkward conversations with money, I certainly gained more empathy -- it was the bumps in his own life (divorce and child support) that put him in this situation. [Much like your gf's student loans and small CC debt. Like others have said, it's well documented that student loan servicers routinely provide misinformation/straight up lie to their customers in order to prevent pay-off programs. As a person working in the public sector as well, I'm familiar with her program, and I know that a tiny fraction of people actually benefit from the 120 payment loan forgiveness program because of these shady servicers]

For us/me, I eventually decided that our future together was more important than short-term savings. He moved in to my apartment, and I continued to pay my housing as normal. I could afford it before, and I can afford it now. While we split groceries, I pick up most of the tabs for eating out and other luxuries. On top of this, I have also buckled down to save more cash to help for his debts. I know that many people would disagree with this--I didn't think I would at first, either, don't @ me -- but this is going to significantly help. On top of everything else I've paid for, I've also socked away an additional $10 in cash, which I will be dumping into his biggest credit card. I plan to do it again next year. By doing this, we will have everything paid off by the end of 2020. CLEAN SLATE CITY, USA.

Look, I know that I've been doing the right thing; I know he's made bad decisions about money. I, too, have struggled with him making extraneous purchases. But through this process, we've had many conversations about money -- at first, difficult and awkward, but by now, easier and more natural. Both his and my own lazy money habits have come under new scrutiny, for the benefit of both of us. For example: those unnecessary splurges that have always made me bristle (for him, records) have become a point of actual discussion. And through this discussion/transparency, his habits have changed. Ultimately, our relationship is SO much better for it.

There are people in this thread that would/do say 'run,' but that disregards the actual humanity of the situation. People are more important than money. Our relationships are more important than money. We work hard and save hard so that we can enjoy more time with the people that are important to us. My goal is to retire at the same time as my partner. His military pension kicks in at 60, and he's 12 years older than me. I'd like to be able to work at least part-time starting at 48 at that point. We've got 10 years to buckle down and use these newfound skills of money communication and frugality as a couple.

Dealing with my partner's debt has just made it clearer how much I love him, and how committed we are for the long term. You wouldn't be panicking about your gf's debt if you weren't imagining a serious, long-term future with her, either. Right now, your girlfriend's debt brings her panic and shame. Let her know how much you love her, that you love her more than you love your money, and that you are her partner in navigating this situation.

Well, I for one will tell you that I think you are doing far too much. You've essentially taken on digging him out of debt, and frankly, I wouldn't be comfortable with someone who was comfortable with that.

He should be paying something relatively equitable towards living expenses, and paying off his own debt.

While you are looking strictly at dollars and cents here and helping him out, he is a very grown ass man and you have taken away a large amount of his agency here.

How relieved and happy can he be when the debt is finally cleared when you've essentially paid it off for him? This is not a good dynamic for an able-bodied 50? year old man to be in. Moving in and sharing expenses would have been help enough. Even if it took him 5-10 years to dig out, I honestly think he would be better off if he did this on his own and in his own time rather than you taking over everything.

If you two are truly together forever, you could take the money yousave by cohabiting and add that to your investments which will be there for both of you if this relationship makes the long haul.

If this relation falters years down the road, how resentful will you be if he ups and leaves? How trapped might he feel - if he wants to leave but feels like he owes you and then resentment festers. Compare that to a more equitable sharing of living expenses and him paying his own debt. The relationship would be able to stand or not on it's own.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: cheaplynn on May 31, 2019, 10:57:35 AM
LONG POST WARNING:

Hooooo boy, do I FEEL this situation. At 33, I was struck by lightning when I met my partner. I knew from the first day I met him that he and I were meant for each other (and I'm no pollyanna -- I've been in a long-term partnership had several other healthy shorter relationships, a 33-going-on-50 kinda girl.) I knew this man was the one for me. There were complications -- age difference, distance, previous marriages, etc -- but things that had once seemed dealbreakers were suddenly just parts of the relationship to work through.

And while I also knew that he made less money than me, but I had no idea about the REAL realities of his financial situation until a year and a half into our relationship. All was revealed on a post-dinner walk when he broke down (yes, into tears) and admitted that he had significant debt. I, like most people here, have been suuuuuuper responsible with money -- hearing that he had, all told, around $40k in debt (mostly credit card, ouch, plus about $8k on his ex-wife's car, lovely) (PLUS $1400/mo in child support) made my guts clench. He was 47 at the time. I spent months in a panic: how could we have a future together with this burden? How am I supposed to help him with this problem?? Did I even know who he truly was??!

Once I got over my own panic and started to have gentle, awkward conversations with money, I certainly gained more empathy -- it was the bumps in his own life (divorce and child support) that put him in this situation. [Much like your gf's student loans and small CC debt. Like others have said, it's well documented that student loan servicers routinely provide misinformation/straight up lie to their customers in order to prevent pay-off programs. As a person working in the public sector as well, I'm familiar with her program, and I know that a tiny fraction of people actually benefit from the 120 payment loan forgiveness program because of these shady servicers]

For us/me, I eventually decided that our future together was more important than short-term savings. He moved in to my apartment, and I continued to pay my housing as normal. I could afford it before, and I can afford it now. While we split groceries, I pick up most of the tabs for eating out and other luxuries. On top of this, I have also buckled down to save more cash to help for his debts. I know that many people would disagree with this--I didn't think I would at first, either, don't @ me -- but this is going to significantly help. On top of everything else I've paid for, I've also socked away an additional $10 in cash, which I will be dumping into his biggest credit card. I plan to do it again next year. By doing this, we will have everything paid off by the end of 2020. CLEAN SLATE CITY, USA.

Look, I know that I've been doing the right thing; I know he's made bad decisions about money. I, too, have struggled with him making extraneous purchases. But through this process, we've had many conversations about money -- at first, difficult and awkward, but by now, easier and more natural. Both his and my own lazy money habits have come under new scrutiny, for the benefit of both of us. For example: those unnecessary splurges that have always made me bristle (for him, records) have become a point of actual discussion. And through this discussion/transparency, his habits have changed. Ultimately, our relationship is SO much better for it.

There are people in this thread that would/do say 'run,' but that disregards the actual humanity of the situation. People are more important than money. Our relationships are more important than money. We work hard and save hard so that we can enjoy more time with the people that are important to us. My goal is to retire at the same time as my partner. His military pension kicks in at 60, and he's 12 years older than me. I'd like to be able to work at least part-time starting at 48 at that point. We've got 10 years to buckle down and use these newfound skills of money communication and frugality as a couple.

Dealing with my partner's debt has just made it clearer how much I love him, and how committed we are for the long term. You wouldn't be panicking about your gf's debt if you weren't imagining a serious, long-term future with her, either. Right now, your girlfriend's debt brings her panic and shame. Let her know how much you love her, that you love her more than you love your money, and that you are her partner in navigating this situation.

Well, I for one will tell you that I think you are doing far too much. You've essentially taken on digging him out of debt, and frankly, I wouldn't be comfortable with someone who was comfortable with that.

He should be paying something relatively equitable towards living expenses, and paying off his own debt.

While you are looking strictly at dollars and cents here and helping him out, he is a very grown ass man and you have taken away a large amount of his agency here.

How relieved and happy can he be when the debt is finally cleared when you've essentially paid it off for him? This is not a good dynamic for an able-bodied 50? year old man to be in. Moving in and sharing expenses would have been help enough. Even if it took him 5-10 years to dig out, I honestly think he would be better off if he did this on his own and in his own time rather than you taking over everything.

If you two are truly together forever, you could take the money yousave by cohabiting and add that to your investments which will be there for both of you if this relationship makes the long haul.

If this relation falters years down the road, how resentful will you be if he ups and leaves? How trapped might he feel - if he wants to leave but feels like he owes you and then resentment festers. Compare that to a more equitable sharing of living expenses and him paying his own debt. The relationship would be able to stand or not on it's own.

Well, I guess this is a good example in how much the full truth of a situation isn't revealed on the internet. Your assumptions about his feelings simply aren't accurate, but I knew when writing my experience to share with the OP that people would jump to a similar conclusion. It's true that these things *might* happen down the road -- I've considered them too -- but committing to a person means that you realize all of the negative things "might" happen and decide to commit anyway.
Not only that, working together to pay down his debt hasn't changed my own savings rate. In fact, I've put more money into my retirement account this year than any year previously. I've saved this extra cash through just tightening the belt. We do a lot of free things anyway -- running, reading library books, etc. The best thing I've learned this year is how easy it is to cut down on small expenses to add up to big results.

Ultimately, what most motivated my action was this: when my brother got married, he had no student debt but his wife did. She had worked in a low-paying job after college and he was an engineer who had made bank. (They met when both switching careers, and now are on similar ground income-wise.) Since her student loan debt suddenly became a shared burden, they both worked to pay it off. Nobody criticized him or told him that his wife was a "grown-ass woman" who should be responsible for her own debt. They wanted to buy a house, so they paid off the debt and then both saved for a down payment together. This is all very logical, right? Well, my partner and I are in a similar situation and we're taking action in a similar way.
(Side note: I am very aware that gender dynamics exacerbate the way people react to my situation (which, frankly, I don't share with people in real life since it's a private matter for our relationship. I'm taking advantage of the anonymity of an online forum to discuss my experiences.))

I guess my point is this: there isn't one right way to deal with your situation, OP. Some people might just stay by their side and provide moral support. Some might contribute financially by taking on some of the living expenses. Some might work together to pay down the debt. Some might turn tail and find someone less "financially complicated"! All of these are options, and only you are capable of knowing what's right for you and your relationship.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: JTColton on May 31, 2019, 11:08:26 AM
The reality is that for most of us human relationships aren't all about money.  You talk about the OP being in the "top percentile" and "high quality people".  For many of us, income, wealth and savings are not a big factor in judging who is a "high quality" person for us.  My husband grew up poor and still earns a low income (although he works really hard).  That was simply not a factor for me when we met and married.  Our values align and we truly love each other.   I've dated very high earning men who would have made me miserable.  Everyone's priorities are different and I find it kind of horrifying that you'd see someone's finances (good job and finances in check) as being indicative of their 'value' on the dating market.  Having similar values about finances are one thing (and there is no indication that the OP's girlfriend is running out and buying brand new cars every year) but income and wealth are quite another.

Finances are only a part of finding a significant other. Take everything Goldilocks mentioned, then add in agreement regarding religion, politics, child-rearing plans, and physical attraction. There may not be a perfect match, or it may take decades to find one. One must make compromises. I'm fortunate that my wife allows me to handle the finances as I see fit and provided no push-back when I started saving half of our income. We disagree in other areas to though, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My ex-husband also had a tendency to use phrases like “high quality people” to describe/categorize individual humans as more worthy/worthwhile and less so. It made me incredibly uncomfortable, for the reasons you state here.

We ultimately divorced in part  for reasons quite related to this — including his tendency to dismiss and even discount the worth of anyone he deemed “not high quality.” And the same implication that high quality people are choosers. Not people to be chosen. Feels very patronizing to me. I would not, and did not, want to be in a relationship with someone who felt as though he, as a high quality person, was better than me, or somehow “deserved” a deluxe model “high quality” partner in the same way that one might say they deserved a BMW instead of a Hyundai.

Interestingly, I’m guessing Donald Trump would have fallen into his category of “high quality,” at least if his wealth is what he says it is. I personally do not think of Trump as a high quality person.

(Also interestingly, I have heard Trump himself use this exact same expression. In the exact same way.)

Money itself vis a vis net worth doesn't determine self worth and I'm not sure how that was construed from my post. If everyone has thought that's what I meant then I didn't explain clearly in my post. What money itself does, is signify certain desirable qualities: logical decision making, non-impulsiveness, foresight, ability to commit to a strategy among others.

If you want a short term fling then nothing much besides physical attraction matters (and not even that sometimes), if something longer term then similar interests might get you by, something serious (cohabitating or marriage) where the legal person is joined along with the physical one these qualities absolutely matter. Is not money the #1 reason for divorce in the US? It seems that compromising in this area is not paying off for people.

Each person must make their own choice as to what priority they place on these things. A person who would not only have nearly $100k of student debt at 40, but living under mistaken impressions about the repayment of said debt shows to me a lack of judgment and critical thinking. Does not mean they are a bad person or do not have worth but this is not someone who shares my outlook and priorities in life, and I think obviously not the OPs either. There are so many amazing people out there who do share those same desires as I do, who do prioritize the things I do that I do not feel the need to compromise on something that could impact my/our future well being.

Also, I'm not sure what Trump has to do with any of this.

wow - yeah - thank you. was getting a little worried about joining this forum......

I have soooo many expectations about a potential partner, but very few around money. And a lot of those are not something you could really cultivate or develop (whereas money habits are!). I need someone with a high level of raw intelligence, and to have that refined/tempered through a large measure of education. Not willing to put up with the smartest-person-from-5th-grade-and-decades-later-think-I-know-more-than-prominent-phds-about-their-field type arrogance. Kind and funny, a bit artistic, kind of good looking, keeping fit, nice package, skill in the sack. That's a lot to ask for!


For money - Just someone relatively decent around money - not deceptive or leachy of course, and relatively self-sufficient. Someone who pays their own way in life.

That's just my point, it is a lot to ask for, and to get it one must bring an equal amount to the table no? By amount I don't mean a net worth but a number of desirable qualities. Everybody wants the same thing in a guy or girl: smart, funny, attractive, clean, good in bed, knows how to cook, good with money etc etc etc ad nauseam. People that possess all or even most of those traits are in an ever shrinking group of people. Do most people possess enough of those traits themselves to attract someone who "checks all their boxes"? No they do not. It's basic supply and demand and a tough question to answer about oneself.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Goldielocks on June 03, 2019, 01:19:15 AM
Quote
This alarming thing is not necessarily the 80k in student debt. The alarming part is the zero savings and what that says about this person. You say this person is not a big spender but that is obviously untrue as evidenced by no savings. You say you are triggered by her spending on little things and rightly so.

This part is definitely true.... if you see many small spending points that trigger your "ouch" reaction, then yes, she is spending too much.

However, many people can change this when faced with the truth - no student loan forgiveness is coming, and maybe some non-repeatable misfortunes in her past (paying off relatives medical bill comes to mind here).   Just be aware if she is a risk taker with her money.  DH has a risk taker cousin that is always broke because he puts all his available $$ and then some on the next business venture and doesn't leave any wiggle room for failure.  This cousin is 45 now...
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Roadrunner53 on June 03, 2019, 07:14:56 AM
I think if you love this woman and want to be with her then you both need to sit down and have some serious discussions on how to pay down this debt. The CC debt should be first and wipe that slate clean. If purchases are made on those cards, then they have to be paid off each month. Research a credit card where she will get cash back at end of year. I have the Costco Visa but there are some that pay more bonus bucks. I am able to pay many of my bills with the credit card each month that I was not doing just a year ago. I charge almost everything I can each month on that card and pay it off at the end of the month. It is also a good way to SEE where your money is going. You have the monthly bill with every charge on it. I keep each months bill in a binder for quick reference.

Discussion points:
1.  Can she look for a higher paying job? Since this college debt forgiveness thing didn't work out, maybe it is time to get a better paying job.
2.  Ask if she will allow you to see all her bills and debts and make a list of monthly expenses, where does the money go?
3.  Create a budget.
4.  Create a 3 month cushion of money not to be touched unless dire straights occur.
5.  Set up automated payments, automated 401K, automated payments for the college debt. Pay off high interest loans first.
6.  If she doesn't want to change jobs, she should consider a part time job and throw all that money towards the college debt.
7.  Ask her when she expects to retire. She has to get that debt paid off and then put it into high gear to catch up on retirement savings.

Tell her you love her and want to help HER pay off HER bills by making some suggestions and creating a budget. Create some different plans for her to see what is doable. Like a 4-5 year plan, a 7 year plan, a 10 year plan. She should have never let this debt linger so long. Minimum payments are not going to cut it.

If she is unwilling to change her mindset or try new ideas, then maybe she is not the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

Living together could be the answer if you are ready for that next step. If so, I would encourage her to commit to a 4 year pay off plan for the college debt. If she got a part time job or a higher paying job, that might reduce the time down to less than 4 years. Tell her it will not be easy but can be done.

The bottom line is that debt bothers you and apparently her too. She has not had someone kick her in the pants and tell her to pay it off. You can jump start this situation with love, encouragement and some frugality.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Laurak on June 03, 2019, 12:07:40 PM
How did the subject of $$s come up? Isn't it strange that it comes up after so many months together? Unless you only see each other 1/month, and then it's like an eighth date. If this was me I'd be wondering what else is a 'secret'.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: DadJokes on June 03, 2019, 12:16:59 PM
How did the subject of $$s come up? Isn't it strange that it comes up after so many months together? Unless you only see each other 1/month, and then it's like an eighth date. If this was me I'd be wondering what else is a 'secret'.

Not really. The subject of finances didn't come up with my wife until we got engaged, which was after a year and a half of dating. I think we knew enough about each other to know if there were any serious red flags, but we didn't sit down and discuss details until we decided to get married. I think that's pretty normal for a lot of people.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: mlipps on June 03, 2019, 01:06:12 PM
How did the subject of $$s come up? Isn't it strange that it comes up after so many months together? Unless you only see each other 1/month, and then it's like an eighth date. If this was me I'd be wondering what else is a 'secret'.

Not really. The subject of finances didn't come up with my wife until we got engaged, which was after a year and a half of dating. I think we knew enough about each other to know if there were any serious red flags, but we didn't sit down and discuss details until we decided to get married. I think that's pretty normal for a lot of people.

Everyone is different. I think anywhere between 6 months and getting engaged is a pretty normal timeline to start talking about your personal finances in detail. Regardless of the other particulars, the timing of this doesn't raise any red flags to me.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: clarkfan1979 on June 03, 2019, 02:21:26 PM
Be awesome and help her manage her way out of debt, but don't throw your money at it.

+1
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: freedomfightergal on June 06, 2019, 03:04:23 PM
Be awesome and help her manage her way out of debt, but don't throw your money at it.

+1
+2

I think it's great you're thinking of the future, you must really care about her. 

In my life though this kind of scenario hasn't ever worked out.  Usually big inequities result in resentments.  Eg you may want to go skiing one day and she can't afford it so you pay, then it's always paying...  Or she comes home with a new handbag after you've been paying for everything...

It's a tough situation and I applaud you hoping to help her.  Going forward I would only want to be with someone who has similar ideas regarding money and who isn't looking for a legup (not saying she is).  But I've had a BF move in to my house and then he had all the excuses to not pay for bills, etc, and made comments about my large salary.  It didn't work out.  Same happened to my friend.  Her BF moved in and suddenly he couldn't pay for a thing because eg his daughter got a speeding ticket, then it was his son's orthodontist bill came in.   

It's tough adding finances to the equation.

Good luck!
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Zamboni on June 06, 2019, 04:15:57 PM
I'm shocked by the harshness of some of these responses.

At the risk of ruffling feathers here, I'll chime that OP's GF is just normal. Lot of people of all ages have lingering student loans, some CC debt, and very little saved. Honestly most people have more CC debt than she does. Most people don't feel comfortable talking about money at all. It's normal. We're the weirdos. Remind yourself of that.

I'd be stunned to find a partner who had money management together as well as I do. At what OP has stashed by 35, finding his money match would be like looking for a unicorn.

OP, I think you should love her the way she is while keeping in mind that we can all learn things from each other. Suggest this forum and gift her YNAB. Encourage her to pay herself first by saving for retirement and definitely don't let her leave a potential employer match on the table. Support her even though these conversations are hard for her. They are hard for most people. If you have love, then keep it, because all the money in the world can't buy it. See if she makes any changes based upon some gentle suggestions . . . it might take awhile and she might be slow to adopt ideas, but be really supportive even of any small changes.

Again, we're the weirdos. She's normal.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: FLOW on June 06, 2019, 04:53:49 PM
What was her actual plan?  Even if she had her student debt forgiven, her plan was... what -- to be 40 years old and have only $2,000 saved?  That's a crap plan. 

I'd really want to know how she got there.  Like did she own a business and it went south?  Did she make some financial bets that didn't pay off? 

Or was her plan just to meet a nice guy with a big stash?
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Classical_Liberal on June 06, 2019, 05:01:45 PM
I went through this exact same thing with my GF.  Although she is quite a bit younger than me, so hadn't been letting the bad finances linger for as long, so I'm not sure if that impacts things here.  About a year into our relationship we got pretty serious and started talking about a life together, that's when I learned of about 40K in student loan debt, 10K in credit card debt, and I already knew she was upside-down on a BMW, by about 5K.  She did have some in retirement, but nothing substantial. Basically was paycheck to paycheck. Earnings were similar to your GF.

Just to give some hope... My GF has done a complete about face over the past year and a half.  Basically we sat down, talked about this stuff and the future we wanted together.  I showed her how that would be impossible in the short term due to her debt.  I gave her a few tools (like good budgeting, showed her how much her car was really costing her, etc) to help herself.  Within six months the car was sold and a cheap used one replaced it, the upside down auto debt paid.  Credit card debt gone 6 months later.  She now has a 6 month emergency fund and just paid down her student loans to a manageable 25K. 

I did not hound her, I do not rail on her for her spending.  I simply helped her find her level of "enough", showed her how to stay within those bounds, and helped her realize where the massive monetary leaks were hiding.  She is still much more spendy than me, but she takes a great deal of pride in her progress.  I am very proud of her too! I've recently stepped up my game by taking a few more proactive steps in helping her reach the end goal of debt free. Small things, like covering our shared utilities myself (we moved in together last fall, NOT because of finances), or paying for her share on date night.

The key to all of this was a shared vision of the future.  None of this would have been possible if she simply ignored the problem. Honestly, that is the biggest issue to overcome. If you can't make the simple progress of creating a vision of an ideal shared future together, the relationship is in trouble for other reasons.
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: Zamboni on June 06, 2019, 05:09:22 PM
She probably didn't have a plan other than it sounds like she did think she had the student loan debt forgiveness planned out. Probably she just figured retirement is far away, she can save later, and she'll live on social security some day any way.

Both of my parents bumbled through like just like this. As I said, it's normal.

Here's a gem for you: "The median [retirement/personal savings] for families between 44 and 49 is only $6,200."
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/16/how-much-the-average-family-in-their-40s-has-saved-for-retirement.html
Title: Re: My 40-year-old girlfriend has over $80k in debt. What do I do?
Post by: partgypsy on June 06, 2019, 05:13:31 PM
A few takeaways from your post:

You are using *we* and thinking future, which is a good sign
 Have you personally considered marrying this woman and taking savings you have built up to eliminate this debt that is giving you anxiety? Is she as bothered by the debt as you are?



She *thought* she was in a program that would forgive her loans? How can that oversight happen? Did they lie to her or did she not read through the offer letter thoroughly?

Oh well, it only takes a little bit of Google-fu to figure THAT one out.  The vast majority of people who have applied for loan forgiveness have been denied.  The rules are confusing and the banks...not exactly truthful.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/01/03/student-loan-forgiveness-data/#45353cce68d0

I work with a very sharp person (she's my boss) did the loan forgiveness thing and said it's basically like another part time job to keep up with the rules and make sure it's being done. It is her responsibility but they don't make it easy.