Till Debt Do Us Part

Love is blind. Love does not see race, colour, weight, height, physical attributes, bald spots nor chipped nails. And love certainly does not see bank accounts. Well, not the ones in the red anyway.

But if you fall in love, get married, (or move in) and do the ‘happily ever after’ thing, bear in mind that money is a big part of the “happily” in your equation.

It’s important to be realistic when you’re getting together. Their money is your money and your money is their money. (Mostly). But it’s not that simple. Their debt is your debt… see how this is already going downhill?

Before you rush off and get joint accounts with matching cheque-books, lay your bills on the table and come up with a payment strategy. Divide it into short-term and long-term ambitions. You may find out that keeping your finances apart is the best thing for both of you right now, because if one of you has bad credit, neither of you will get a mortgage if you apply together.  You can always revisit this later once you are debt-free.

Once you’ve worked that out, look at your income (cheating is allowed) and expenses together and realistically. If Christian Louboutin’s are more important to you than your cereal brand, but your partner only eats Post yet jogging in something called Beebok isn’t an issue, you’ll need to work a few things out.  Remember, the compromises you make now, will be the fights you have later. So plan ahead. You already know your shoe brand is the centre of your being. Therefore, don’t compromise by agreeing to buy cheaper shoes. The sensible compromise is to buy shoes (gasp) less often. See where I’m going with this? If not, when you decide 4 years in that you want to spend big bucks on designer shoes, after looking cute all this time in the no-name stuff, it’ll be harder to win the you’re-wasting-good-money argument.

In this wonderful age of technology, everything is linked your credit rating. Including your outstanding rewind charges at the video store. I know you are trying to recall exactly what a video store is, (what’s a video?), but $23.85 + monthly interest can come back to haunt you both in 10 years. And if you never watched ‘Return of the Sex-starved Cheerleaders’, you may not want to pay for it. So, be sure to decide upfront what bills are ours, what’s mine and what’s yours. You may need to help each other along some months, but that’s part of being in love.

Your debts out the way, plan a saving strategy. Some experts tell you to do this first. Save now and pay your debts later. I find the ‘experts’ that recommend this usually don’t have debts. But go with what works for you. Either way, save first or save last, but save. You should always have something set aside for when it rains. Save together towards the things you want together, wedding, house, children’s college fund, a yacht, whatever. But there’s nothing wrong with saving separately too.  Your personal desire for new shoes with shiny, red soles, should not result in the cancellation of the family trip to Australia.

However, I don’t recommend saving separately in secret, unless your partner is a poo-head. And if they are, why have you even read this far? Break up already.

Saving is more fun when there’s a goal, so set some. One of the beautiful things about being in love is sharing your experiences with someone else. Splurge sometimes. Don’t look back and think of all the things you would do differently, occasionally just do them.  And remember to take photos, later when your choice in fancy footwear is being questioned and you’re trying to remember why you are with this person, those photos may help you hold on to the good stuff.

Let’s recap then. 

Love is blind. Debt can see you.

Plan ahead.

Avoid or get rid of debt.

Save. Goals make it easier.

Live a little. Love a lot.

And be happy. For ever after.

PS – ‘Return of the Sex-starved Cheerleaders’ is not a real movie. Stop trying to find it.

Extra reading: Unemployment doesn’t need your permission to happen, you may need help coping. Find and read all the posts with the Unemployment tag.