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Wedding Woes

He's offering for your benefit...and his.

Dear Prudence,

I’m engaged to a loving man. Before we met, I incurred significant debt going through a divorce and becoming a single parent. I wasn’t a reckless spender, but living below the poverty line for years with a young child while experiencing medical emergencies is very expensive. I no longer live in poverty, and I am confident in my budgeting skills. My fiancé has offered to wipe out this debt, and he has the financial means to do so easily. Part of me jumps at the thought of a fresh start, where I can save money each month instead of throwing it at years of debt and high interest. The other part sees this as completely unfair to him. I incurred this debt before he ever knew me, and it feels like it should be my burden alone. He sees it as a major point of stress in my life and an easy fix to a less stressful future for both of us.

—Take a Handout?

Re: He's offering for your benefit...and his.

  • What do you think marriage is? I view it as a commitment to approaching life together as a team. What’s he going to do, vacation alone while you stay home pinching pennies?
    charlotte989875OurWildKingdom
  • What do you think marriage is? I view it as a commitment to approaching life together as a team. What’s he going to do, vacation alone while you stay home pinching pennies?
    Sadly, I knew someone who was like this.  It was my old neighbor and he legit paid for 'his' bills and blew the rest of his money on god knows what (hunting shit, usually) and if his wife came up 'short' before payday, he basically said it was her problem.  He flat out told DH that he would not give her money to fill up her car even if she was running on fumes before she got paid.  I still think about that from time to time and how I'm sure he's not changed his asshat ways. 

    Shockingly, they're divorced.  
  • Why would you not work together once married to mutually have no debt?  

    LW is phrasing this as if the concept of marriage isn't also a business arrangement.   And that doesn't mean that you only look at your partner as a business partner but you should  want to have a desire for mutually beneficial financial assets.   It helps both of you at the same time especially if the two of you want to make larger purchases together like a car or a home.
    mrsconn23charlotte989875OurWildKingdom
  • I'm not like LW and spouse, but I have an issue of "your money/my money" kinda deal also?
    I deal with the budget and will help M if needed on misc things, but I'm not using my savings to pay his debt.

    That being said, I'm also there helping find solutions with his debt to handle it because I know he can afford payments. So that might be different.
  • The thing is, if one person has debt that's terrible it's affecting both of them.   So should one half of the couple have a terrible credit rating then should the two of them need to qualify together for something (like a house) that's a major issue.  


    MissKittyDangerSTARMOON44charlotte989875OurWildKingdom
  • banana468 said:
    The thing is, if one person has debt that's terrible it's affecting both of them.   So should one half of the couple have a terrible credit rating then should the two of them need to qualify together for something (like a house) that's a major issue.  
    Even if the credit score is good, when qualifying for a house - at least in Canada - they also look at your current debt load
  • banana468 said:
    The thing is, if one person has debt that's terrible it's affecting both of them.   So should one half of the couple have a terrible credit rating then should the two of them need to qualify together for something (like a house) that's a major issue.  
    Even if the credit score is good, when qualifying for a house - at least in Canada - they also look at your current debt load
    Yep, you have to have a certain debt to income ratio to qualify for a house.  
    charlotte989875MissKittyDanger
  • Maybe waiting until after the wedding would make LW feel differently about the debt, but yah as I see it if he’s offering, if it’s affecting both of you that’s only going to continue in the future. 

    I have more student loan debt than H, but he’s never ever made me feel like I’m the only one responsible for the bills. I also make more than he does and I’ve never made him feel like he can’t buy/spend on what he wants/needs. We do have shared finances so it’s a bit different but yeah it’s our money/our debt. 
    STARMOON44OurWildKingdom
  • mrsconn23 said:
    banana468 said:
    The thing is, if one person has debt that's terrible it's affecting both of them.   So should one half of the couple have a terrible credit rating then should the two of them need to qualify together for something (like a house) that's a major issue.  
    Even if the credit score is good, when qualifying for a house - at least in Canada - they also look at your current debt load
    Yep, you have to have a certain debt to income ratio to qualify for a house.  
    Yup that's my point.   So if I have a great credit score but we are overwhelmed with debt then we can't make the payment and therefore don't get the home. 

    It's one thing to have your own monthly purchases.   We both do.  But if your debt is so big that you are feeling bad about it then work on a plan or a system TOGETHER to get it down.


    12 years ago when DH and I were married I came into the marriage debt free because I owned my car and had no student loans.   DH had a decent amount of student loans that he paid every month.   It wasn't "bad" debt but when we looked at wedding gift $ we didn't buy artwork - we paid off his loans.   It wasn't a fun or glamorous thing to do but it set the groundwork for a better financial situation when I was pregnant a few years later and we were looking for a new car and a house. 
    charlotte989875STARMOON44MissKittyDanger
  • I like Varuna’s suggestion.
    this is something that could be worked through with a premarital counselor too. 
    short+sassyOurWildKingdom
  • I agree with @VarunaTT and @charlotte989875 that, at the very least, the LW should wait until after they are married before allowing her FI to pay off her debt.

    I feel like, for her own self-worth, she'd have less guilt that way.  Especially since in pre-marital counseling and/or shortly after getting married are times when couples often talk about combing (or not combining) finances and their short/mid/long-term plans for everything related to that.  Like bills, debts, assets, savings plans, retirement, etc.

    In that way, she can see in black and white that allowing him to pay off her debt will also open their future for XYZ.  But this is also assuming they combine or mostly combine their finances.

    With that said, if it would still bother her to let him pay the debt off and she wants to pay the debt from a portion of her own earnings, I would hope he also understands her POV and respects it.  Sure seems like he would.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    charlotte989875OurWildKingdom
  • This is now joint debt. When I married my husband had student loans. We made a decision to prioritize and pay those off first. Sounds like he is trying to do the same. 
    OurWildKingdom
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