My girlfriend and I have been a couple for seven months, and it’s getting more and more serious. I don’t expect us to get married next year, but I like to plan ahead and if things keep working out, I see us getting married in two or three years.
Finances are important to me and I know finances should be looked at without emotion, but emotions and money collide. I get nervous when I read things like the divorce rate is 50% and rising.
Both of our parents were married in their mid to late twenties and are still together, but I’ve seen family friends who have split up and both parties are financially worse off. I’m concerned about some of my girlfriend’s financial habits. I don’t want what I build and hopefully one day what she and I build to be affected.
“Income is steadily increasing”
A little background. I am a 27 year old male and will earn $90,000 this year before the bonus. My income increases steadily as I progress in my career. I have $100,000 in various investments and no debt. Finances and planning for my future are important to me.
Money isn’t everything, but it’s a tool that helps us navigate through life. I have big plans for me. I want to buy investment properties, grow my investment portfolio, etc. My parents helped me with college, but the loans I got after I graduated quickly paid off. I lived with my parents for 2.5 years after college; I bought a car with money well below my means and saved well. You get the point.
She is 24 years old and has just obtained her master’s degree in special education. She will soon start teaching and is also on her way to a great career. We have many similar interests and enjoy spending time together. She is a dream. I love it! But I’m worried.
She’s not as financially savvy or financially motivated as I am. Like me, most of her education was paid for by her parents, but she has student loans. She mentioned her student loans and how after 10 years the government will forgive them all, so all she has to do is pay the minimum for 10 years and the government will do the rest.
This worried me so I asked to go over them with her and after that I found out there were tons of hurdles to get her loans canceled after 10 years. I tried to explain some of the obstacles. I don’t know if it’s denial or what, but it worries me that she doesn’t see that her loans won’t be forgiven, especially after she gets married and files a joint file.
I’m a little upset that she doesn’t see the big picture. I talked about how she should pay off her student loans as quickly as possible so that she accrues as little interest as possible. Plus, she doesn’t have a ton of expenses, so she would have to pay for them, so when things like kids come up, she doesn’t worry about her loans. She still doesn’t understand.
Live beyond its means
She also moved into an expensive apartment beyond her means, so the idea that she doesn’t understand finances still scares me. I’ve made mistakes myself and I’m still learning, but I feel like I’m a lot more advanced than her at 24. That said, she started saving based on our conversations.
She’s still driving an older car that’s fully paid for and has no interest in buying anything new anytime soon, so she makes good financial decisions. If we get married, I don’t want his financial mistakes to impact what I plan to grow. What are your thoughts?
Divorce on the horizon
I am also concerned about the divorce. I know that’s a bad way to think, especially at a young age and because both of our family histories are stable. It is a risk. What if I started a small real estate company and bought rental properties and then we got divorced? So instead of growing the business, I had to sell a property or two to give her what she was earning.
Or I could end up selling my homes and starting over when I don’t have as much time to pay off my mortgage before retirement. To be clear, I’m not saying she deserves nothing. She will also earn money, and her work will bring good benefits.
Since she’s a woman, she’ll have to bear our children, and she’s better than me in some areas. For example, if we buy a house one day, I know that she will make this house a real house. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s the truth for our relationship and I understand it’s worth something, but it doesn’t remove the risk.
How can I manage this risk, but also ensure that it does not affect our relationship?
Youth and Learning
Student loan forgiveness is complicated. It’s hard to blame your girlfriend for not understanding the process. She would be one of the millions. You did him a favor by reviewing his repayment plan. In recent years, MarketWatch has extensively covered the challenges that nurses, teachers like your girlfriend, social workers and other public servants have faced in keeping up with the forgiveness they were promised after this 10-year period.
Many of these borrowers only found out they weren’t even eligible for relief – often due to a minor but significant glitch in the process – after working for years in a job because they thought loan forgiveness was on the horizon. You and your girlfriend can read this step-by-step guide to relief. Her annual tax returns should not affect her pardon, as long as she follows the correct procedures.
She’s 24 and you’re 27. Three years can be a long time in your twenties. But not everyone works at the same pace, and does not have the same constellation of family, financial and professional factors. There’s a line – and a fine one, frankly – between helping a friend or partner manage their finances and expecting them to be (a) someone they’re not or (b) the same as us. We all have quirks, qualities and things in us that others would like to change!
But what can you do that would be constructive? You could meet with a financial planner together and talk about your shared beliefs and values and your financial goals. Where do you want to be when you’re 30 or 35, and what changes you’ll both need to make to get there. If you go on this journey with her, instead of telling her what she’s doing wrong, it will be a happier experience and create a more fluid pattern for the other decisions you make that impact each other. .
As for your marriage plans and your fears of divorce. To pull a leaf out of your organizational playbook: take one wish — and the signing of a contract — at a time. You’ve only been together seven months. Marriage is a contract, a kind of business contract, so you should get to know each other better before you go into matrimonial affairs together. As with any new venture, there is an element of risk involved.
In business, you have insurance policies. In marriage, you can agree to sign a prenuptial agreement. You take out of the marriage what you brought into it, for example, and you can also indicate who is responsible for debts and how the property you co-own should be divided. You acknowledge a lot of fears and concerns, and that’s fine, but be careful to impose those concerns on others, as it could eventually affect every aspect of your life.
I’m glad you highlighted his qualities. If she is pursuing a career in special education, she must possess many wonderful qualities: compassion, humor, discipline, and emotional strength. If you’re the teacher/preacher and your girlfriend/wife is always the one who doesn’t do things perfectly, you might need that prenup sooner than expected. Just be careful that your girlfriend doesn’t become a human receptacle for your own anxieties.
She may have some of hers that she would like to express and hopefully dispel.
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