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Hi all!

I looked at the FAQ for this group, but didn't find any helpful info regarding a potential situation in my future. Here's my situation:

I am ready to "pop the question" to my girlfriend. However, I know that my financial situation is drastically different from hers, and I am wondering how it will affect our eventual marriage. I have a squeeky clean credit record. I've never missed a payment on credit cards or my car loan, I never carry a balance on any card, and I've only bounced a check once due to an miscalculation on my part. The only debt I have is a car loan, which I am paying off regularly and on time. I have just over 3 years left on the car loan. I have no mortgage, as I am renting from a friend of mine. Credit card companies continually increase my limits, hoping that I'll spend more. I don't fall for it though! :) Now, here's where it gets interesting!

My girlfriend has approx. $26,000 in credit card debt (department store cards, as well as Visas and MC's)! The department store cards I know we can take care of easily enough, but there multiple other cards that have thousands of dollars each on them (also with very high interest rates). Currently, she has been bad about paying the minimum payment each month, which obviously will be reflected in her credit report. She does not have any other loans or debt (no car loan or mortgage).

My question is: should we decide to get married soon, how will her somewhat bad credit history affect my clean record? Will it be more difficult for us to get another car loan, or maybe an eventual home loan? I don't want us to be in a tough financial situation after the honeymoon is over. :) Also, should she consider closing all her accounts and consolidate her debt? It seems to me that consolidating would make it easier for us to make a single monthly payment for a number of years than to try and individually close each credit card account on it's own. Does anyone have any personal experience in a situation like this, or recommend on how to proceed or who to contact?

I really would like for us to have a stable financial future, and I feel that confronting her pile of debt is the first step to a happy and Foolish life together. Thanks!
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