Dating someone in Debt

Wanted to get everyone's thoughts on starting to date someone in debt, when you yourself are not in date. Say a mix of credit cards and student loans, maybe a 100K total.

Would that be something you would break up with someone over? What if they continued to spend and weren't really paying it off aggressively? Should you put time into that, only to have the debt be the reason for ending it?

Comments (69)

Feb 24, 2020

Aside from student loans, not sure how one can rack up that much debt. Sounds like they are fiscally irresponsible. I would never be with someone who didn't have a plan to pay down their debts, and if they're still spending - why are you still there, are you her advisor or something?

Tell that heaux she won't won't be paying off debts anytime soon working at Sephora as a sales assistant.

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Feb 24, 2020

That's basically my question. You only really get credit card debt from living above your means, which I feel you shouldn't be doing if you have student loans to pay.

Feb 24, 2020

If that's your question, then you have your answer. Unless the majority of debt is from student loans, but she still should not be using / maxing out her credit card. Again, just irresponsible if she's continuing to use her credit card when in both CC and SL debt.

Feb 24, 2020

I would be concerned if it was mostly credit card debt, because that's irresponsible imo. But, I wouldn't be very concerned if they had student loans with an expectation of being able to pay them off within an acceptable time frame

Array

Feb 24, 2020

Agreed, I think my thought is if I were in debt I wouldn't be doing much, I would be focusing on paying it off. Student loans are one thing, but credit card is another in my head.

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Feb 24, 2020

Credit card debt is a little scary, but it depends some on the rationale. If they have $10k on a 0% APR card that they're paying down, who cares? If they have like $30k on a capital one that they're paying 21% interest on...that's a red flag.

Student debt is a generational problem. As long as someone has a handle on it and is making paying it down a priority, I would never hold that against them.

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Feb 24, 2020

I think this is the perfect answer, and this was what I came here to stay. However OP did mention that the person they are referring to is continuing to spend, so my follow up question is it mostly on superfluous purchases?

Feb 24, 2020

I would say thinks I consider superfluous.

Not totally in the weeds, but vacations, shows, shoes, clothes, seem to being purchased. My finance mind looks at it essentially as borrowing money for all of this.

Feb 24, 2020

Date is fine just don't marry

Feb 24, 2020

What part is credit card loans and what part is student loans. If this individual buys more on credit than student loans, it's a no. I'd rather date someone who invested in education and got into debt than someone who has an impulsive spending habit with money they don't have.

"It's okay, I'll see you on the other side"

Feb 24, 2020

I don't have a full handle on the situation, but about 50K in school loans and I don't know much about the other debt.

In my head, kinda as I stated above, it's crazy to me how someone can keep spending/buying stuff when they have school loans.

I'm more trying to figure out if its a big deal or not; obviously not super stoked about it.

Feb 24, 2020

If you asked, would the individual give the full details of the financial situation with all numbers laid out and how much they invested with the amount of money in the bank account?

"It's okay, I'll see you on the other side"

Feb 24, 2020
ironman32:

I don't have a full handle on the situation, but about 50K in school loans and I don't know much about the other debt.

In my head, kinda as I stated above, it's crazy to me how someone can keep spending/buying stuff when they have school loans.

I'm more trying to figure out if its a big deal or not; obviously not super stoked about it.

This person has 50k in student loan debt and another ~50k in CC debt? Massive red flag.

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Feb 24, 2020

Pretty big red flag if it's CC debt and not school related. Even if it was school related...if it was something for a worthless degree like art history there's no way I'd date them.

Feb 24, 2020

We're talking along the lines of Communications degree.

School loans are hard. Humble brag, I paid my off, but when i was 18 I didn't really understand them, so a little difficult to make that call; but at a certain point, its like, do you want to pay them forever, or buy a house?

Feb 24, 2020
m_1:

if it was something for a worthless degree like art history there's no way I'd date them.

Art history is hot right now. Haven't you heard? Hedge funds are recruiting to all the top programs. They have the ability to see patterns in the market like no one else.

https://media0.giphy.com/media/d8isjk1UBPFTm0EBbd/giphy.gif

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Feb 24, 2020

Art major chicks are generally dimes though soooo

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Feb 24, 2020

If you are at the very beginning of a relationship, I would not be too worried about it. If she was buying expensive clothes instead of contributing to the cost of ates, I would be concerned.

Feb 24, 2020

Its been a couple of months.

Me, personally, I know what I have saved and how I got there. I don't want to say I've given up stuff, but I have not really overspent or lived super luxury (or prob even luxury). My goals are more saving for the future, for things like a house or if I have kids; so in my head, I'm saving for those things, not to pay someone else's debt.

Feb 24, 2020

I can appreciate your concerns about taking on someone's debt. My wife took out 100K in loans for law school shortly after I met her while I had no debt at all. I can see how the credit card debt could be an issue, though.

Feb 24, 2020

Does she also have a decent job she got with her degree? I know of people who have 100k+ in college debt but ended with a useless degree.

Feb 24, 2020

she has an actual job, I just think its a matter of not being super disciplined on a budget that she should be super disciplined on.

Feb 24, 2020

How the hell is she going to pay off all this debt then? Do you know what her salary is, are you trying to make her your wife? You need to know full financial situation before continuing further.

"It's okay, I'll see you on the other side"

Feb 24, 2020

Student loans + a solid plan to pay it off would be fine. Anything else is just a sign of immaturity and limited responsibility.

Funniest
Feb 24, 2020

I've become so jaded by WSO threads lately I expected this to be a thread about the prestige of dating someone who works in DCM

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Feb 25, 2020

that's hilarious...sorry?

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Feb 26, 2020

no apologies needed, it's probably why I keep coming back anyways

Feb 27, 2020

/wsoirl

Mar 2, 2020

Holy Shit! I'm glad I wasn't the only one.

Feb 24, 2020

My take is that you know she has student loans, and some inkling that she carries a non-zero balance on credit cards on at least an occasional basis.

We need to know more in order to give reasonable advice. I haven't had any debt for 5+ years, and I still bitch about paying my credit card bill. It is reasonable to not pay it in full if you have certain emergency fund goals (i.e. having a $5k 'oh shit' account, and wanting to always keep $1k in checking for surprises) Student loan debt is also one of the cheaper forms of unsecured debt, so it can make sense to make it a lower priority.

If she's driving a six-figure car and going on $20k vacations without having these things solved, then that's an issue. I'd rather someone with half a million in debt because they got a good deal on a house and still have student loans than someone with $50k in CC debt. My tax accountant/lawyer has a mantra. "Never finance a depreciating asset." The former example is a disagreement on leverage, which is a philosophical investing discussion. The latter is a lack of grasp of solvency, which is a much deeper problem.

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Most Helpful
Feb 25, 2020
Whatever1984:

My take is that you know she has student loans, and some inkling that she carries a non-zero balance on credit cards on at least an occasional basis.

We need to know more in order to give reasonable advice. I haven't had any debt for 5+ years, and I still bitch about paying my credit card bill. It is reasonable to not pay it in full if you have certain emergency fund goals (i.e. having a $5k 'oh shit' account, and wanting to always keep $1k in checking for surprises) Student loan debt is also one of the cheaper forms of unsecured debt, so it can make sense to make it a lower priority.

If she's driving a six-figure car and going on $20k vacations without having these things solved, then that's an issue. I'd rather someone with half a million in debt because they got a good deal on a house and still have student loans than someone with $50k in CC debt. My tax accountant/lawyer has a mantra. "Never finance a depreciating asset." The former example is a disagreement on leverage, which is a philosophical investing discussion. The latter is a lack of grasp of solvency, which is a much deeper problem.

UPDATE:

So about 38K in student loans, and about 10K in credit cards. Pays 1K on the student loans each month (minimum), then throws about 400 on the debt each month. Should be going to about 1k on each (loan and card) in a month from a raise.

Talked about it last night, really it just comes down to someone being a spender, and someone being a saver.

Its not that it wouldn't get repaid over time, I just think it could be paid faster versus other things she spends money on. For example, in 2020 alone she spent 2,200 to join some group, then another 2,500 on a vacation (was already there for work, but I still think its a waste).

The way I think about money is its okay to spend, but spend it on something you really enjoy. Hypothetically, I would rather eat in 6 nights a week and have a good meal out on the 7th, then have medicore meals out 7 days a week. We're both early thirties, in my head, you should want to have stuff beyond a "good time" or "experience", meaning, I like going out to eat, but I like being to afford a house, retirement, and possibly my future kids college first. Not to sound like a tightwad, and I have fun and do stuff, but to me, there's being able to pay cash and afford something, versus borrowing for it.

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Feb 25, 2020

You are absolutely right in that it is a spender versus saver situation. I know it is kind of a generalization but I think men tend to be the savers while women tend to be spenders. At least it works that way in my situation. I do not like spending money frivolously (subjective ). I would be very hesitant to spend $200 on a meal but if I liked a shirt, I might buy several of them.

Feb 26, 2020

Yeah I dated a guy that spent so much money on junk and wanted to go out all the time. He had a lot of debt which was unbelievable. I'm a saver and would rather stay in 6 days and go out the 7th day.

Greed is Good!

Mar 2, 2020

Trust me, you don't need an advanced understanding of finance & compounding to understand that 10k in CC debt with a 21% APR is problem.

More than that, it's the mentality that matters. The student debt is ok provided she is paying it off, but if I had 10k in CC debt, I'd be going out maybe a couple times a month max & spending under $200 total, no vacations, and living in a low-rent apt until it was paid off. Jesus, this is just common sense.

The longer you stay with her, the more the "sunk cost" mentality will set in, esp. as you mentioned you're in your early 30s. Dunno if you want to get married/have kids, but if either is applicable, it's gonna weigh on you to settle fast. I'd get out of this pronto, cut your losses, and go looking for someone with compatible financial views. Can't fix someone, esp. after decades of reinforcing wasteful spending.

Feb 25, 2020

If 50% of it is because of spending habits, I'd fold without questions. Run for your life.

Feb 25, 2020

"(s)he's a brick and I'm drowning slowly
Off the coast and I'm headed nowhere...",

Do NOT tie yourself to someone who is out of control and spending beyond their means, with no plan to right the ship. Bad idea.

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Feb 25, 2020

Just make sure you don't get her pregnant.

Your concern is warranted and it sounds like you know what you should do, but you enjoy spending time with her. Do not make it a long-term thing or you will be paying for her current debts and future spending.

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Feb 25, 2020
DickFuld:

Just make sure you don't get her pregnant.

Your concern is warranted and it sounds like you know what you should do, but you enjoy spending time with her. Do not make it a long-term thing or you will be paying for her current debts and future spending.

Nah bro he should cut it off if she's up to her eyeballs in CC debt. Men get smitten all the time and make dumb decisions and the longer he has her around the more likely it is to evolve into a "long-term thing".

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Feb 25, 2020

Not trying to make a dumb decision out here.

I guess its hard when we work in finance and understand how money works or have an idea of it.

  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Feb 25, 2020

Don't date someone in debt, date someone in private debt... and you'll be fine

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Feb 25, 2020

That is a good one.

Feb 26, 2020

Have you heard the joke about Captain Saveaho? He dies in the end.

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Feb 26, 2020

Yea, definitely not that guy...looking for a sugar momma if anything

Feb 27, 2020

If you're looking for a sugar momma than you're definitely dating the wrong chick...

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Feb 26, 2020

I started dating a girl 4 years ago who originally had $82K of student loan debt. I was super turned off by it and almost wouldn't date her because of it. BUT, she was eager to pay it off and prioritized it above everything else. So I stuck with her and offered to help in ways that didn't involve me paying off her loan. We tackled it together. I created a spreadsheet for her to track her loan payments and helped her refinance her high interest rate. Fast forward 4 years, we're getting married and we'll both be debt free before the wedding. Now we both have a strong understanding of money and can focus on building our net worth together.It's not the debt you should be worried about. It's their mindset towards paying it off that matters most.

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Feb 26, 2020
buggylovesfinance:

I started dating a girl 4 years ago who originally had $82K of student loan debt. I was super turned off by it and almost wouldn't date her because of it. BUT, she was eager to pay it off and prioritized it above everything else. So I stuck with her and offered to help in ways that didn't involve me paying off her loan. We tackled it together. I created a spreadsheet for her to track her loan payments and helped her refinance her high interest rate. Fast forward 4 years, we're getting married and we'll both be debt free before the wedding. Now we both have a strong understanding of money and can focus on building our net worth together.It's not the debt you should be worried about. It's their mindset towards paying it off that matters most.

Awesome man, congrats on that.

When you first starting dating though how much did you have to push her about the debt. Yo used she prioritized it, that's not really my (her) situation. That's kind of my issue. She has a 3-4 year plan for paying it off, but to me, that's not aggressive enough in that, her apartment/lifestyle is a little above her means (obviously I guess bc she's in debt). My thought it, yea I can help you get out of it by making a budget or having ideas (not paying it directly), but would debt just become a mindset, for example, will we have to argue over every vacation bc I want to pay cash but she wants to spend over budget? Can you get someone to change their stripes?

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Feb 26, 2020

Honestly I don't remember having to push her that much. She wanted a better life for herself and freedom, so I guess I lucked out in that regard. Your situation is a tough one though. It does sound like she has a plan but if she's still overspending and living above her means, I agree with you its a problem. But its hard to tell someone to reduce their lifestyle once they've already gotten use to a certain standard of living. Lifestyle inflation is a bitch. We literally lived like college students, way below our means and still do because that is the easiest way to do it. I would have a candid discussion about it and if she still isn't willing to change her views, break up or don't take the relationship any further than it already is. The #1 cause of divorce is money issues. If you're already having issues, that's a big red flag.

  • Works at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Feb 26, 2020

I really wouldn't mind dating someone in DCM, seems like a reasonable position to be in.

  • Associate 1 in S&T - FI
Feb 26, 2020

At what point in the relationship do you have the conversation about how much money each of you is making/amount of debt somebody is in? I feel like you don't have that conversation until you are living together? I dated a girl for a while who I assumed was in a good amount of debt and I knew had loans from undergrad/grad and was working on another grad degree when we were dating and had mentioned having having to fill out applications for students loans, but we never talked about the actual number. I knew she had a good job and we split most things in terms of entertainment, but I never tried to help out with it beyond suggesting that a couple of places that might help her refinance it lower. Did not feel it was my place to do that. We dated for about a year and it was pretty serious but it was not something we talked about.

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Feb 27, 2020

I brought up credit scores, debt, salary, spending habits,etc within the first month of dating. I don't like wasting my time LOL. Plus if you two like each other enough, that's not enough to scare someone off. I framed it as financial freedom being very important to me and it matters that my s/o is on the same page with that. Any reasonable person would understand IMO.

Feb 27, 2020

I feel that you should have that conversation before you move in together. In my head, when you move in together you should basically have everything worked out by then; if not, could be a rough year ahead if you're renting.

I think you get to a point in dating where you bring up stuff sooner rather than later. Maybe not in your early 20s, but as you get closer to 30 you don't want to date someone for a year just to find out you're not compatible.

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Feb 27, 2020

My thoughts are that your spending philosophies should align. I'd say one of the biggest breakdowns in marriages are a result of finances. To me, as long as she plans to continue working to pay student loans off in a timely manner, that's okay. The concern is the CC debt. At this point in her life, she should be able to pay off the balance monthly (just getting CC points); not add to the debt. That's where my red flag would be. The other question is whether she plans to work if you have kids.

My wife and I had a deal from the get go. I told her that if she paid off her debt, she could choose to be a stay at home mom during the child rearing years. She worked on it, paid them off, and now she's enjoying raising our kiddos at home. Still, she plans to go back to work once they're in school again.

Another thing to consider is your income. If you're on track to make big money, and you don't mind the idea of taking on her debt, then no issue. However, it sounds like you've got an issue that stems from principle. If she's serious, and she understands that conservative personal finances is an important value to you, then she should be working with you to alleviate your concerns and make you feel comfortable about getting married. Just make sure you communicate that clearly to her, and don't assume that she can read your mind. I'd also consider keeping your finances separate if this turns long term, until you feel comfortable that she isn't racking up debt under both of your names.

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Feb 27, 2020
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  • Intern in AM - Equities
Feb 27, 2020
Mar 2, 2020