Author Topic: Taking on Debt with Marriage Advice  (Read 2166 times)

chris316

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Taking on Debt with Marriage Advice
« on: April 14, 2017, 05:24:24 PM »
Somebody please talk to me about taking on debt when planning or thinking about marriage and things of this nature.

Big in Japan

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Re: Taking on Debt with Marriage Advice
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2017, 06:44:42 PM »
The way you are phrasing this is too general and vague to get the best answers. There are so many cultural and personal variables in the context that we don't know. If you want more answers, then I would recommend that you explain your situation and then ask specific questions.

In general, debt means you're on the wrong end of the compound interest math that FIRE individuals want to use to achieve their goals. The person in debt is the sucker paying 4% instead of getting 4%. But you already know that. So why are you asking?

Uturn

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Re: Taking on Debt with Marriage Advice
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2017, 02:43:28 PM »
I've been married twice, both times they had much more debt than I'm comfortable with, both times it was a major source of conflict.   A good marriage with two devoted people can still have hard times.  When those hard times hit and you are not on the same page with something as important as finances, it will be very very hard times.  I would not marry someone unless they had a proven track record of sound financial decisions.  We don't need to be on the same page or chapter, but we definitely need to be in the same book. 

I don't know if this applies to you, but if you feel that you cannot talk to the other person about finances, the two of you are not ready for marriage. 

Proud Foot

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Re: Taking on Debt with Marriage Advice
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2017, 09:00:25 AM »
Your question is a little vague but it seems like your partner is the one with the debt? When my wife and I got married we both brought debt into our marriage but we have been on the same page about finances since before we were married.

The biggest things to consider would be:
- What is the cause of the debt?
- What is the size of the debt?
- How long have they had the debt?
- What is their plan for paying off the debt?
- How do they handle their finances to avoid debt in the future?

If their debt is primarily consumer debt then this is something you would really want to figure out and determine how important finances are to them and whether they can get on the same page as you.  If the debt is student loans or a mortgage then it probably is not as big of an issue. I would second what Uturn said that you need to be able to talk about finances with them. 

FLBiker

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Re: Taking on Debt with Marriage Advice
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2017, 09:29:08 AM »
Good comments so far.  I agree that the type of debt (and what it represents) is important.

When DW and I married, I was probably around +$150K net worth and she was about $30K in student loan debt with no retirement savings.  If she'd have had a lot of credit card debt (and been very pro-consumption) we never would have gotten married (due to lack of common interests / beliefs).  But the money itself wasn't really an issue.  We paid off her high interest student loans immediately, and continue to pay the low interest ones.  She's very supportive of saving for retirement and lets me manage our investments.  We've combined everything.  Initially, I thought I'd want to protect "what was mine" when I came in, but in talking to some folks, I realized that (for me) this was just a way to keep one foot out the door.

ExpatChina

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Re: Taking on Debt with Marriage Advice
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2017, 12:12:05 AM »
I faced a similar situation before I got married. I was debt free and my wife had 70K in student loans. She went to Morocco with Peace Corps right out of college and thus deferred her loans for 3 years. After Morocco she was living paycheck to paycheck as an archaeologist. All of this resulted in her paying the minimum (or nothing) each month and never making a dent.

I had concerns about taking on her debt. Similar to FLBiker I hesitated because it was a way to keep one foot out the door. Once we married I knew that our first step was to get out of debt. With no debt comes freedom! So we lived on 30% of our salary and dedicated the rest to paying off her student loans. 1.5 years later we are debt free and starting the investment journey together.

I agree with the opinions above, if it was consumer debt that's a deal breaker. Student loans sure, she makes more money than I do with her Masters Degree! It was worth it in the end.

Uturn

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Re: Taking on Debt with Marriage Advice
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2017, 07:57:11 AM »
My earlier post might have come off a bit dickheadish.  Someone with debt is not necessarily a deal breaker, but someone with poor spending habits and is not doing anything to change them is.  I don't fault anyone for their past mistakes, but I do find fault in someone still making the same mistakes and burying their head in the sand as to what the problem is. 

As an example, let's take a look at younger me.  I was making good money, had a nice house, a Jeep, a Jaguar, two motorcycles, and all financed.  I was on top of the world, I had made it, I could "afford" it.  Then the tech bubble burst, some assholes flew planes into buildings, the economy tanked, and I couldn't find a job.  I sold everything I had just ahead of the creditors, and found myself living in a financed Ford Ranger.  Notice the Ranger was not in the first list?  Yup, traded the Jeep because the Ranger was cheaper and I "needed a reliable car" to find work.  I didn't have a place to sleep, but dammit I looked good on the road!  It wasn't until 3 years later when I finally drew a line in the sand and said no more, debt stops here.

I was a good, kind hearted person.  I loved my friends and family.  I had a good sense of humor and liked being around people.  I even had plans for the future.  That all sounds like a good dating profile, but I was still making HUGE horrible money decisions.  I will not marry someone like I was, it will lead to disaster.  It's much like dating an addict.  They say they want to change and they might even mean it, but until they do, they are not ready for the commitment that marriage takes.