No. of Recommendations: 0
DH and I aren't really married, yet. We plan on taking care of that after this tax year.

He makes $55k a year as an engineer, I make $28k as a librarian. That is, I will when I start my new full time position on Monday (yay me!). I was making half that working half time--not by choice.

He pays the mortgage and his car out of his account (for tax reasons) and the rest of our money is pooled into our joint account that I use to pay for utilities, food, student loans, and the dreaded CC bills.

What I have:

CapOne - 9.9% - $450
National City - 8.9% - $3200
MBNA - 10.5% - $2200

What he has:

MBNA - 13.5% - $6600

This means we have $12450 in CC debt. Our total snowball amount starting next month will be $1500. I think we can have this paid off in just under a year. I was approved for a Citibank Illumina Card with a limit of $3600 and balance transfer option of 0% from the date of 1st transfer, up to 6 transfers, for 6 months. After that 9.9%.

I'm trying to decide what to move. I know it looks obvious that I should move as much of DH's MBNA as possible, but something (selfish) inside me is holding back. Last year I transfered $4500 from his MBNA to National City for a 0% rate that has since expired (and now remains at $3200). And while he has been so good for the past 6 months (he doesn't carry the card anymore), I can't help but feel resentful that his card has run back up so high. We both had a problem in college, and now we're serious about getting rid of the debt, and honestly a big chunk of his card were emergencies (i.e. airfare, tuition) that we didn't have an efund for. That is quickly being corrected.

Please tell me I'm being silly. I mean, he brings home more bacon than me, and he pays the mortgage... I just hate putting so much debt in my name, even if it would be paid off fairly quickly.

Any thoughts?

laura

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 6
Please tell me I'm being silly. I mean, he brings home more bacon than me, and he pays the mortgage... I just hate putting so much debt in my name, even if it would be paid off fairly quickly.

Any thoughts?

laura


Sometimes the sleep-at-night factor has to come before other things. If you're gonna feel resentful over transferring his balance, then go ahead and do yours. At least that way if for some awful reason things don't work out, you're not stuck w/ his debt in your name. And you won't be cranky with him, which IMO, would make things muck more likely to work out. ;)

Cindy
yes, I think things will work out. I also think if you're not cranky with him, ya get a better start.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 45
WARNING** WARNING**

Please do not take his debt on your shoulders until you are married. Until you are married you should treat your finances as if you are roommates. You should be splitting the cost of the living expenses and you should each be dealing with your debt individually.

If you are going to work on it together, then I recommend that you at least split it equally between you. So if you are snowballing %500 a month, then $250 goes to one of your cards and $250 goes to one of his. As for the balance transfers, you should only put your cards on your new transfer card and he should apply for a new card to get his transfered.

As for being selfish, hun, you have to be selfish when you are single. If you take on his debt and you break up three months for now, it will take you a long time to pay it off.

Please do not assume you have the protection that marriage provides just because you are living together and plan on getting married in the future.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 15
I can't help but feel resentful that his card has run back up so high. We both had a problem in college, and now we're serious about getting rid of the debt, and honestly a big chunk of his card were emergencies (i.e. airfare, tuition) that we didn't have an efund for.

How big a chunk of his card?

I ask, only because it sounds like you guys might not be on precisely the same wavelength when it comes to finances. I agree with windyelliott that everything ought to remain separate - debt included - until you are actually legally married; but even as roommates you should have the rules spelled out VERY clearly, and this means a dispassionate and decidedly unromantic discussion.

I used to hate discussing money. HATE it. Something about it made me feel like a little kid who'd done something wrong, and that every opinion, suggestion and desire I had around the issue was worthless. DH and I discussed a lot of abstracts before we were married, but when everything was legal we had to sit down and put together a budget. It was absolutely agonizing for me, but we did it. And we've revised the budget repeatedly since then. It gets easier every time. I find the comfort of knowing precisely what goes where and what belongs to whom far outweighs any vestigial discomfort over discussing the issue.

As for him "bringing home more bacon" than you - another reason to discuss finances now. People contribute to relationships in different ways; people have different strengths and weaknesses. Some people just have careers that earn more than others - and IMHO unless you're marrying each other for money, that just doesn't matter. It sounds like you feel your opinions on where the money goes should matter less, because you bring less of it home - and that on some level you already resent that. It won't get better when you get married.

Talk, talk, and talk again, and do it now, before you make the commitment. Find a system that works for you both, and commit to revisiting your system if either of you ever feels uncomfortable with how it's working.

And try to get past feeling like you have less of a say because you're currently bringing in less money. Once you are married, any financial decision by either of you affects you both equally.

-lizmonster
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
Oh my. You guys are so right. Yes, we are sick in love puppy dogs after 4 years (3 living together, 1 1/2 with a mortgage together). But we don't really talk about money. We have to work out where we stand financially NOW.

The thing is, I am an absolute control freak when it comes to money. I control all of our finances in MSMoney, so I do know where almost all of our money goes. He gets an allowance, and I don't have any real spending money needs, other than an occasional pack of smokes (I know! I know!). Anyway, because I am so obsessed with our finances he stays away. We don't really talk about it, he just trusts me to take care of it. I hand him the mortgage bill and say, "Its time to write the check."

He seems fine with this, but apparently I'm not okay. I know he's "onboard" only because he doesn't use his credit card anymore (confisacted) and he really wants to be out of debt. But he leaves it up to me to take care of it. He just says, "Snowball it, don't fight the snowball." He insists he doesn't care if "his" money is used to pay off debt on my CCs, because he sees it as our money. And I believe him, so he isn't the one with the problem at all. It's me. I feel guilty because this past year with me working part time he's basically supported me.

He's on a business trip right now (woah is me), but when he gets home next week I'm going to sit down with him and tell him how I feel.

And the idea about him getting a card in his name to make a balance transfer--brillant! That is so freaking obvious I can't believe I didn't think of it! I'm sure he'll be fine with that. Thanks so much!

laura

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
His credit and income is good. Why not have him apply for a card that has a low interest balance transfer? It is not a good idea to transfer his debt to your name and it will increase your anger towards the debt.

I understand your concern but do not completely understand the anger. He is cooperating and you now have an efund. If I understand your post, most of the balance on his card was from non-frivolous expenses during college. Since you are planning on paying off the debt within the year, hopefully the decreasing balances will relieve your stress over the debt.

Debra
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
I'm trying to decide what to move. I know it looks obvious that I should move as much of DH's MBNA as possible, but something (selfish) inside me is holding back. Last year I transfered $4500 from his MBNA to National City for a 0% rate that has since expired (and now remains at $3200). And while he has been so good for the past 6 months (he doesn't carry the card anymore), I can't help but feel resentful that his card has run back up so high.

Does he know how you feel about this or do you keep it hidden? It may be best to have an honest discussion about your feelings and discuss this issue together. I can fully appreciate the difficulty of dealing with a partner that does not seem to always share the same financial restraint and/or goals. In the past, I had paid my DW's credit card off completely and she ran the balance back up.

As far as what to do with the balance transfer, what about doing something where you split the amount between your cards and his cards. You could transfer the $2200 balance on your MBNA card and maybe $1300 from his MBNA. Leave a little cushion on the card just in case.

Then, if it were me, I would probably snowball that card first even though it had a 0% interest rate. The reason for that is you are combining debt from each of you on your card so it would be in your best interest to eliminate that ASAP.

Also, with a snowball of $1500, you should have all of this debt eliminated in a relatively quick amount of time. Again, I highly recommend you talk with him about your feelings and apprehension to transfer his balance for fear he would run it up again.

Honest and open communication will go a long way towards making this debt repayment easier and more long-lasting!

dt
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Laura,

We're newlyweds, too, and facing a big ole debt, so i can sympathize.

Forgive me if this is incoherent, but I just woke up and didn't have coffee yet :)

Can you have both names on the zero balance card so you won't feel as though it's you shouldering the debt? If not, then maybe focus on the fact that it might be a trust issue, which is common when you're conjoining finances.

Finances can be really tough to deal with in the first year of marriage and you have to keep the lines of communication way open. Can you express your apprehension to him? It's good that you're talking about these things in debt while engaged.

Good luck!
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 5
He gets an allowance, and I don't have any real spending money needs

Hm. This works differently for different people - but DH and I get equal allowances. We each spend/save different portions of it every month; but the point is we both get the same amound of "None Of Your D***n Business" money. Since we were both previously in relationships with money abusers, this is absolutely critical for us.

Different systems work for different people - some couples have a "anything under $30 is fair game for joint money" rule, for example - and maybe your lack of spending "needs" makes your system work for you. Just thought I'd mention it, since if we did things that way I think I'd have clawed my own eyes out in frustration by now. ;-)

YMMV,

-lizmonster
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
Do not merge finances until after you are married. Do not transfer his debt to you until after you are married. Try to come up with a budget with him and if he is unable to follow it (i.e. racks up serious bills) then you ought to reconsider marrying him. With the amount of money both of you are making you could pay off your debts VERY quickly (Less than 6 months?)
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
500PSI,

You wrote, Do not merge finances until after you are married. Do not transfer his debt to you until after you are married. Try to come up with a budget with him and if he is unable to follow it (i.e. racks up serious bills) then you ought to reconsider marrying him. With the amount of money both of you are making you could pay off your debts VERY quickly (Less than 6 months?)

Personally, I think you should never merge finances. At the very least you should resist the urge to merge finances. Even after you're married, you should resist, fighting tooth and nail and you should only cave in the case where merging finances actually enables you to make some life-altering purchase, like buying a home. Even then, I'd only do it after much soul-searching.

- Joel
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Joel,
Why not merge finances after marriage? (I am not married but plan to merge everything with my future spouse) Does anyone have any insight on this? How has merging finances enhanced the marriage union if at all? Isn't marriage about two becoming one?

- South
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
How has merging finances enhanced the marriage union if at all?

I've been married forever (27 years) and we merged pretty much immediately which is very easy when you have close to nothing. I manage the money. We don't have allowances(mostly because I would feel obligated to spend money that really didn't need to be spent). We might mention if we're going to make a large purchase. Then again, I did buy a car at lunch one day. When we had very little money, neither of us did any spending.

The income was probably equal for maybe 3 years but that started maybe 3 years after we got married.

I dunno about others. It's worked out for us.

rad
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
I dunno about others. It's worked out for us.

That's the real answer. What works for one couple doesn't work for others. If both members are reasonably careful with their money, and discuss major purchases, and have similar goals, then merging money usually works. But it doesn't always work.

And if couples have different goals, and can't get on track, and one member doesn't enjoy planning ahead, then merging money might be a bad idea. Or it might not.

The point is, each couple needs to decide what system works best for them. They can listen to how others work things out, but they are the ones who have to come up with a system that works right for them. It might be merging money, it might be totally separate accounts with individual responsibilities, it might be a combination of separate accounts and a joint account.

It's a case of what works for each marriage. But I would hope that each couple would discuss these matters carefully before the wedding.

Nancy
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
Joel,
Why not merge finances after marriage? (I am not married but plan to merge everything with my future spouse) Does anyone have any insight on this? How has merging finances enhanced the marriage union if at all? Isn't marriage about two becoming one?

- South


Joel's a little bit biased, and given his experiences, rightfully so. A lot of it depends on your spouse. Are they responsible, reliable, and really useful? (Sorry, too much Thomas the Tank Engine). But, will they spend reasonably so that you live below your means and will be able to agree on what you do with your money, or will they buy lots of useless stuff and run you both into the ground financially? (And don't kid yourself, you can't outsave a spender.) Can you trust them with your financial well-being?

So, if your spouse is financially trustworthy (or at least teachable), I think it's okay to merge finances. The problem is, how do you know? So probably waiting to merge finances is not a bad idea, and certainly finances should NOT be mingled before the wedding. Ever. Ever ever. :-)


JMHO,
Booa (look, I got through without writing psycho hose beast! Ah, nuts...)
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
Oh my! Not only should you not be taking on the these debts until married, I would suggest that you not have a joint account where you merge money until you are married.

Worst case scenario: You take on the debt, something happens, you now owe and he doesn't. Meanwhile, the account with your joint monies is drained and you have nada.

Probably won't happen, but it does happen every day.

Why not have STBDH (soon to be dear husband) take on a new credit card with lower interest to transfer his debt to?

Have you discussed (at length) money? You know, long range goals, plans, philosophy, spending, savings, etc.? It's a really, really good idea to do this before you are married. Once the glandular secretions reduce in their flow, you need to have stuff like this discussed and understood before the "I do."

L
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
southwesternfool,

You wrote, Why not merge finances after marriage? (I am not married but plan to merge everything with my future spouse) Does anyone have any insight on this? How has merging finances enhanced the marriage union if at all? Isn't marriage about two becoming one?

Personally, I don't see the benefit to merging finances; but I know of a number of potential problems -- from experience. Merging finances gives control of all the family assets to whichever person is the least fiscally responsible. That's always the case. The person that's most fiscally responsible is then forced to struggle to keep their own dreams and hopes alive while they see their spouse waste hard-earned money on frivolous purchases.

Given enough money or enough balance in the marriage and I suppose this need not happen. But personally, I think its shear folly to even take that risk.

Someone please explain to me why he or she feels it necessary to merge finances anyway?

BTW: When I was a teenager and just starting to date, that always seemed to be what a girl talked about when I brought up the subject of money. How neat it would be to be able to pool our money together so we could do so much more with it. Yeah right.

Looking back on it, I'm much more cynical and realize I must have been just plain stupid from all that testosterone. The women I went out with knew that one day I'd be making a lot more than them and I'd bet none of them were any more fiscally responsible than the one I wound up marrying.

Personally, I think if you marry someone that's more fiscally conservative than you, the best thing you can do to preserve that marriage is to keep your money separate. Ultimately, a lack of trust is what destroys a marriage. That loss of trust could be from infidelity; but I think fiscal irresponsibility is probably the most frequent culprit.

- Joel
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
The subject of not merging finances until you are married is very interesting to me. I guess I don't understand what it is about marriage that makes it okay, verses not having that piece of paper and it not being okay. Does getting married turn a magic key? Or do you guys just mean that if married legally we would both be screwed if one of us spent us into the ground, so why not merge anyway? Because from what Joel is saying, even if married you can keep things separate and not have to worry about taking on the other's debt. So how is marriage going to be any different from before marriage?

I guess I see your point, and how most people would be better off this way as far as the trust issue (like somehow once married people's mindset is different). In my situation our being "married" means we actually take the time to go to the courthouse. No ceremony. We are only waiting until after the year ends for tax reasons.

I hope this makes sense, I know I'm being stubborn. :)

laura
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 17
Merging finances gives control of all the family assets to whichever person is the least fiscally responsible. That's always the case. The person that's most fiscally responsible is then forced to struggle to keep their own dreams and hopes alive while they see their spouse waste hard-earned money on frivolous purchases.


That is absolutely not ALWAYS true. I agree that if you have a spendy spouse this can be an issue, but just because one spouse is less fiscally responsible doesn't mean they spend every penny coming in.

My DH has no interests in finances, so he would be considered the least fiscally responsible in our house. But that is because he doesn't do things like balance a checkbook or even register his checking account transactions in the checkbook register. I, on the other hand, am anal about money, and balance the checkbook to the penny.

This difference in our approach to money, however, does not automatically make this an issue. We have the same set of goals, and we learned a long time ago that I am simply better at managing the finances. He is able to buy whatever he likes provided he lets me know before the purchase for things over $100. That's just to ensure the money is there before he spends it. If it is not, then he waits til we have the money, and then makes the purchase.

Someone please explain to me why he or she feels it necessary to merge finances anyway?


Something about promising 'for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, til death do us part' figures in here. If we were going to get married and join our lives into one, I did not see how that would be possible if we kept little pockets of our lives, like the finances, separate. I've seen separate finances, and I don't like it for us. I've seen the husband make multiples of the wife's salary and drive a brand new BMW because he could afford it on his pay while his wife drove a clunker that was always breaking down. I don't understand how such a situation could be acceptable when two people are supposed to love each other.

I also don't understand how you do things like save for family goals like retirement and buying a house if you split all the expenses. And then there's the case where one spouse loses a job or cannot work due to illness or decides to stay home with the children. Clearly, that spouse is still contributing to the marriage just not in a financial sense. My mom was a SAHM, and she and my dad always put everything in one pot. Dad always felt like it was Mom's money as well as his. I think it's the situation where someone thinks that because they earned the dollars, they have more say, and to me, that's the type of attitude that also leads to problems.

In my house, it's all in one pot, and it doesn't matter who is contributing how much to the pot. This has worked for us for the past 20 years, but as has been stated, the model any particular couple should use is the one that works for them.

In my house, it would be unacceptable to me [and to DH] to have separate finances. We're in this together, and that includes the money.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
Someone please explain to me why he or she feels it necessary to merge finances anyway?

Necessary? No. More convenient? For us - yes.

But DH and I were not young when we married - I was 37, and he was 40. We'd both been through up-and-down times with money, and both dealt with, shall we say, less fiscally-conservative partners. I'd say we're pretty equal when it comes to fiscal responsibility. This may be the key.

And by your definition, perhaps we haven't really merged finances - we have one joint savings and one joint checking account, all for household expenses (for which we have a detailed budget), and savings goals (for which we have funds defined in Quicken). We also each get a monthly allowance, and have our own accounts to manage that money however we choose. No joint credit cards. And everything - balances, expenditures, goals, ideas, joint or personal balances - on the table at all times. (Well, gifts for each other excepted. ;-) But those come out of our personal money.)

This works for us, and frankly I can't imagine being in a marriage without being on the same financial page - but that's due to lessons learned in my younger days, so I certainly understand it doesn't always end up that way.

So I guess I'd agree with you, Joel, up to an extent - I don't think it makes sense to merge finances without full disclosure, and without a fiscally responsible partner (with documentation!). But at the late stage in life when I got married, I wouldn't have married anyone under other circumstances.

-lizmonster
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 5
I guess I don't understand what it is about marriage that makes it okay, verses not having that piece of paper and it not being okay.

You have both more legal protections and more legal exposure when you're married.

Joel has a point. My suggestion would be that you not get married, tax year notwithstanding, until you guys have ironed out ALL of the financial issues. Once that is done, hammering out a long-term financial strategy for the two of you should be much simpler.

As far as the marriage itself is concerned - you may not find that the relationship changes once that pesky piece of paper enters your lives; but I sure did.

-lizmonster
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 7
>>>Someone please explain to me why he or she feels it necessary to merge finances anyway?<<<

Because marriage is not only about dollars and cents.

It's also about trust, and learning, and being in a true partnership and not being suspicious.

I think it is nearly impossible to be a team when you have an "me vs. you" mentality.

This is why I think it's vitally important to know the character of the person you are marrying (or are married to).

For instance:

My husband is financially conservative. Although I have a spendthrift past, he knows my character and knows that I am committed to our marriage as my first priority and that I would not do anything to put our relationship in danger financially.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
As far as the marriage itself is concerned - you may not find that the relationship changes once that pesky piece of paper enters your lives; but I sure did.


I just wanted to reiterate this point. DH and I lived together for 1 1/2 years before we got married, and our relationship most definitely changed [for the better] after we got married. We both noticed it, and it wasn't really something we could put our finger on, but it was there. The closest I can come to a reason is that it was just more permanent and we really did have the commitment to each other. Anyhow, you are not the only one who noticed that it did make a difference to get married.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 18
The subject of not merging finances until you are married is very interesting to me. I guess I don't understand what it is about marriage that makes it okay, verses not having that piece of paper and it not being okay. Does getting married turn a magic key? Or do you guys just mean that if married legally we would both be screwed if one of us spent us into the ground, so why not merge anyway? Because from what Joel is saying, even if married you can keep things separate and not have to worry about taking on the other's debt. So how is marriage going to be any different from before marriage?

My take on it is that you're kidding yourself if you think "that piece of paper" is not going to change your relationship. Marrying is like inviting a third person into your household to live with you. Now there's three "people": "you", "him", and "us, The Marriage". It's hard to express in words until you've experienced it, but people do treat you differently when "it's official". Our culture is pro-marriage. So are the laws in this country; they make it harder for you to split a marriage than just a pair of single people living together.

All of this does affect the way you feel. And at least for me, not in any Draconian sense. It felt good to stand up in front of people and proclaim, "I pledge myself to this person for the remainder of my life." (You've said you don't intend to have a ceremony, because you plan to marry at the courthouse. I suggest that signing the papers is ceremony, and you may feel cheated if you don't look at it that way. Ceremony needn't have scads of onlookers and flowers and thrown rice and all that.) It feels good to hear someone say "your wife" when they talk about DW, or hear her refer to me as her husband. It just doesn't carry the same emotional weight to hear "your girlfriend" or "your SO".

Having said all that, I guess something in your original post caught my eye. You said:

What I have:

CapOne - 9.9% - $450
National City - 8.9% - $3200
MBNA - 10.5% - $2200

What he has:

MBNA - 13.5% - $6600


But you also said that the National City card was a balance transfer from his CC, originally $4,500. So, What I read is, you created $2,650 in debt, whereas he created $11,100 in debt.

He does earn a higher salary than you; he makes almost exactly twice what you do. But he's out-debting you almost 5:1. In fact, he's created debt of roughly 20% of his annual salary, whereas you've created debt of less than 10% of yours.

And, he transferred a debt to you ($4,500) that was almost twice the debt you had created yourself.

Yeah, it's understandable that you'd feel a little resentment for this. Even if his larger salary is helping to pay it off, it's still now "your" debt. You even call it "your" debt. And you're thinking of making even more of "his" debt "your" debt?

I wouldn't do it. I would keep it in his name, on his card. If there's a better rate to be had, I would let him find it, in his name. Or find it for him, and suggest that he balance-transfer it in his name.

I submit that if this issue bothers you now, it might bother you much more when you're married. This is a disconnect that you two may have. Money seems to be more of an emotional issue for you than him? Not to mention, money -- or at least, spending -- seems to be something you have a much better handle on than he does?

IMHO, you two should resolve these issues before the marriage, when any debts generated by him become legally yours as well as philosophically yours. Speaking as one who hates being in debt, and was married for 20 years to someone who didn't take deficit-spending very seriously, I tell you that such disconnects will not seem smaller with time. If it's not a disconnect you can fix, better to know now than years after the marriage.

Two cents, --FY
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
The subject of not merging finances until you are married is very interesting to me. I guess I don't understand what it is about marriage that makes it okay, verses not having that piece of paper and it not being okay. Does getting married turn a magic key? Or do you guys just mean that if married legally we would both be screwed if one of us spent us into the ground, so why not merge anyway?

If you merge your finances while not married and do not get everything in order, including wills, one of you could be totally screwed if the other is disabled or dies.

rad
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 5
Ann,

My first thought rather mirrors the other opinions here, although when I first wrote to you I was hesitant to express my concern about merging your finances before you are married.

I didn't write it, because I don't know you or your fiance and he may be a perfectly stand-up fellow and perfectly trustworthy.

That said, I would also have the mundane and not-particularly-pleasant-to-worry-about concern over what if something happened to your fiance before you were married? Then you'd be saddled with a debt that's not really yours.

I was among the loudest of the people who insisted before I was married that marriage changes nothing.

Marriage changes everything.

If done correctly, marriage truly binds you together in a way that is not possible even when engaged.

Everything becomes much more intense, once it sinks in that you're in it for life, and start referring to each other as husband and wife (or, in our case, "My husband" and "my bride") :)

Good luck and look out for yourself!
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 9
"So how is marriage going to be any different from before marriage?"

I also am in love with my dh. I think he's the best man in the world, so I know where you're at.

I am guessing that you have never been married before. I hear the arguement about, "It's just a piece of paper." Let me tell you that marriage changes everything.

There are legal differences between being married and not being married. That's why the gay population would like to see the laws changed so that they can marry legally. It's much more than a piece of paper.

Right now you can't envision anything changing with your relationship. I was married for a couple of years and had a child before divorcing. I then met my dh, and we have been happily together for over 13 years (11 married). I am still living with the mistake of my first marriage since we still have a daughter together. Did I think this would happen? No. Are you making a similar mistake. Highly probable that you are not (I was young and dumb, and I'm sure that isn't the case with you...dumb that is!).

So, let's assume that you are going to stay together forever. Not married yet? Something horrible happens. You have no legal right to anything, including making arrangements...health wise, or otherwise. No legal rights. The money can be taken by his family, decisions made by people who are not involved in your lives. One thing is that the debt will still be owed by you.

Married? Haven't hashed out the money outlook and goals? Money is one of the top two reasons for divorce. It was a huge issue in my first marriage. Guess what? My ex is in worse shape than ever, and I've lived more responsibly and being punished for my saving behavior by being finacially punished regarding child support.

Never going to happen to you? Now, don't be young and dumb. Things happen every day to people. You don't control your future, only help to guide your future. That's why it makes sense to save and make good financial decisions so that you protect yourself from possible emergencies. I have a friend that bought a house with her partner. They took out a loan to help remodel the house. My friend sold her home to buy this house. I knew it was a huge mistake and told her so. She sells the home in her name, buys the home together, takes out loans together. Partner leaves. House is worth less than what is owed on it. Still not remodeled. Partner took money and still owns half of the house. Talk about a mess.

Still never going to happen to you? the 50% divorce rate is still out there.

Lastly, why are you transferring his debt to you? Why don't transfer your debt to him? Why not keep them in your own names and transfer his to a new card. He makes more money than you! I just think that you are looking at your situation with rose colored glasses and not seeing things as a third party might.

Step back and look at this situation as if you are a friend. You might see things a bit differently.

L
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Please do read this and do NOT merge your debts together. Wait until the wedding.

You might read this and think I am a great believer in marriage, not really I am a great believer in your own protection. But you are really in a bad position if you break up and it cannot be undone.

Catleen
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I've been married forever (27 years) and we merged pretty much immediately which is very easy when you have close to nothing. I manage the money.

...

I dunno about others. It's worked out for us.


My wife and I merged our finances to a significant degree about two years before we were married (after living together for a year). It ended up working out well for us, but it probably would have been safer to wait for a while first.

--B+C
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
2gifts,

I wrote, Merging finances gives control of all the family assets to whichever person is the least fiscally responsible. That's always the case. The person that's most fiscally responsible is then forced to struggle to keep their own dreams and hopes alive while they see their spouse waste hard-earned money on frivolous purchases.

To which you replied, That is absolutely not ALWAYS true. I agree that if you have a spendy spouse this can be an issue, but just because one spouse is less fiscally responsible doesn't mean they spend every penny coming in.

That's not what I said and I think you know it. I said that when you merge assets, the thriftiest person is giving control of their assets to the least thrifty. That is always the case. Whether or not the least thrifty person actually exercises that control is another matter.

All I'm saying is that by merging accounts, you're giving up control of your own assets. You're also gaining control of your partner's assets; but if you're the thriftiest spender in the relationship, you're just asking to be the one to get the short-end of that arrangement.

Also you stated, I also don't understand how you do things like save for family goals like retirement and buying a house if you split all the expenses. And then there's the case where one spouse loses a job or cannot work due to illness or decides to stay home with the children. Clearly, that spouse is still contributing to the marriage just not in a financial sense. My mom was a SAHM, and she and my dad always put everything in one pot. Dad always felt like it was Mom's money as well as his. I think it's the situation where someone thinks that because they earned the dollars, they have more say, and to me, that's the type of attitude that also leads to problems.

Well in my experience both spouses tend to spend the money as they see fit. The problem is that one inevitably spends more than the other on things their partner disagrees with. That wouldn't be a problem; but the spendthrift spouse tends to view half of whatever is left has theirs, even if they've already spent their fair share.

In my case, I would spend the money on paying the bills. She would spend the money going out to eat and buying the kids videos and books or going and buying mostly useless junk from Target or Wally World. She would remain upset with me because I had control over and spent the majority of the money. The problem with her complaint was that when I would let her take over the finances and pay the bills, they didn't get paid and as if by magic, there wouldn't be enough money in our accounts when I'd start seeing the late notices.

Why do you think that is? Well, it's because we had different priorities. I worried about having a roof over our heads and keeping the car from getting repossessed, being able buy groceries, to heat and cool the house and providing hot water so we could bath and wash the dishes. She figured that if she paid the bills once every other month or so, what was the difference? After all, they're getting paid, aren't they? Besides, there was all this nifty stuff on sale and all these cool gadgets she didn't own two of yet.

If you've been lucky enough that your spouse hasn't taken advantage of the control you've given her, then you've been blessed. And probably lucky. But I think having well-defined boundaries and expectations for money as well as a well-defined spending plan is a key component in marital success. Co-mingling your assets so that either party can spend that money at will makes it much easier to deviate from that plan and the result will be strife in the marriage. I just think you should keep it simpler by keeping accounts separate from the get-go.

And, Something about promising 'for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, til death do us part' figures in here. If we were going to get married and join our lives into one, I did not see how that would be possible if we kept little pockets of our lives, like the finances, separate. I've seen separate finances, and I don't like it for us. I've seen the husband make multiples of the wife's salary and drive a brand new BMW because he could afford it on his pay while his wife drove a clunker that was always breaking down. I don't understand how such a situation could be acceptable when two people are supposed to love each other.

You can keep your accounts separate and still divide your incomes up evenly. Or at least fairly. Just because one spouse is the primary or even sole wage earner doesn't mean you can't have separate accounts. All you need to do is come up with a budget/spending plan and stick to it. The spouse that contributes least in the income would simple receive a periodic stipend, supplement or allowance from their spouse to make the division more equitable.

And if you see the husband driving the BMW and the wife driving the clunker, don't assume you know how the finances are arranged in the marriage. The wife might be the fiscally frugal one; she might even be the big wage earner; or she might feel her husband needs the car for the brownie points it earns him with clients. Just because you see an apparent inequity in a relationship doesn't mean there's not a valid reason for it. Shoot, the wife might be a big penny pincher and have a million dollars socked away while her husband saves nothing. You just can't tell from looking on the outside.

(Did you know Ross Perot is notorious for driving around Dallas in an old beat-up Oldsmobile?)

And, I also don't understand how you do things like save for family goals like retirement and buying a house if you split all the expenses. And then there's the case where one spouse loses a job or cannot work due to illness or decides to stay home with the children. Clearly, that spouse is still contributing to the marriage just not in a financial sense. My mom was a SAHM, and she and my dad always put everything in one pot. Dad always felt like it was Mom's money as well as his. I think it's the situation where someone thinks that because they earned the dollars, they have more say, and to me, that's the type of attitude that also leads to problems.

It's simple. You split up the expenses as well as the income. Once all the bills are paid, you balance out whatever income is left over so that each spouse has an equitable amount of the uncommitted income. If one spouse desires something that's not really a family obligation, they can either save for it from this allowance or they can borrow or ask for a gift from their partner. The point isn't that they shouldn't share; only that they shouldn't make it easy for one partner to become presumptuous and just take whatever they want.

- Joel
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
lizmonster,

You wrote, And by your definition, perhaps we haven't really merged finances - we have one joint savings and one joint checking account, all for household expenses (for which we have a detailed budget), and savings goals (for which we have funds defined in Quicken). We also each get a monthly allowance, and have our own accounts to manage that money however we choose. No joint credit cards. And everything - balances, expenditures, goals, ideas, joint or personal balances - on the table at all times. (Well, gifts for each other excepted. ;-) But those come out of our personal money.)

Actually, no I probably wouldn't say you've merged finances. I can understand why you might want to have one common bank account. I just hope you wouldn't put all your money in it.

- Joel
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Rapunzel102,

You wrote, It's also about trust, and learning, and being in a true partnership and not being suspicious.

I understand the trust issue. But I think merging all your accounts just because you're married is tempting fate.

- Joel
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 7
Joel,

If you've been lucky enough that your spouse hasn't taken advantage of the control you've given her, then you've been blessed. And probably lucky. But I think having well-defined boundaries and expectations for money as well as a well-defined spending plan is a key component in marital success. Co-mingling your assets so that either party can spend that money at will makes it much easier to deviate from that plan and the result will be strife in the marriage. I just think you should keep it simpler by keeping accounts separate from the get-go.

First Point. 2gifts is female. I've met her. Trust me, she's female.

Second Point. My mother was a SAHM. My father trusted her with the checkbook, and she never abused that trust. If she wanted to spend a lot of money (on, say, a new couch), she asked his opinion, found out how much was a reasonable spending amount, and finally checked his preferences for style.

I realize that you feel your wife is a spendthrift. Not every wife is, and not every marriage has one partner clutching the pursestrings while the other wants to spend, spend, spend.

Each marriage is different, and each couple finds their own best system. Rad and 2gifts find that they can merge accounts and not have problems. My parents had a single account. Many other people have had joint accounts without a problem.

I agree it might not work for everyone. Other people might have a separate account for personal spending, and a joint account for house expenditures. Others have to divvy up the chores. (He pays the mortgage, she covers the utilities and the child care, etc.) But just because a joint account didn't work for you doesn't mean it won't work for others.

In the SAHP case, I've known husbands who very carefully doled out a set limit each week. "Here you are, dear. $50.00 of your very own. Now be very careful with it. I worked hard to earn that money." Same speech, every week. Rather demeaning.

The point is, you can't judge another person's marriage by the way yours works.

Oh. And my father died a number of years ago. My mother has managed her money, and her investments, ever since. She is never overdue with her bills, and she's very careful about her spending. I'm only sorry that she didn't have money for investment years before; she probably would be a multi-millionaire by now.

Nancy
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
That's not what I said and I think you know it.

No, I did not know that you didn't mean it the way I read it. Sorry for the misinterpretation.

And if you see the husband driving the BMW and the wife driving the clunker, don't assume you know how the finances are arranged in the marriage. The wife might be the fiscally frugal one; she might even be the big wage earner; or she might feel her husband needs the car for the brownie points it earns him with clients. Just because you see an apparent inequity in a relationship doesn't mean there's not a valid reason for it. Shoot, the wife might be a big penny pincher and have a million dollars socked away while her husband saves nothing. You just can't tell from looking on the outside.

The example I cited about the wife with the clunker while the husband drove a new BMW was true, and I do know how they managed their finances because all she did was complain about it ad nauseum. She resented very much the fact that he made several times what she did [he also had a PH.D, so he had worked to get his large paycheck], and that the only way she could have anything was if she bought it. Clearly, this system of yours and mine did not work for them. I do believe they eventually divorced.

It's simple. You split up the expenses as well as the income.

That's a good way to do it, but I have not yet seen a couple do the division like that when they do not comingle their finances. I've always seen things like each putting in some percentage into the joint account according to percentage of total income they both brought in. I can remember going out to dinner with some friends to celebrate our anniversaries as they were a week apart, and it just struck me as odd that we split the check with them, but they each then split the check between them and paid for their own dinner. They did not pay for anything together. He paid the mortgage and she paid the utilities. I don't think they're married anymore, either.

In what you describe where people split income and expenses including if there is only one breadwinner, that sounds a lot like putting it all in one pot and having an allowance. But in that case, I don't understand how the finances are not comingled.

I think I'm just being dense. I also think I'm very glad that I married my husband. Just call me blessed.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
I've only read the first couple of posts, and skimmed the rest, so not sure if anyone else has brought up this particular, horrible-thought gem:

Not only might you break up, but what would happen if he died?

Horrible, horrible, I know... but think about it. Something happens, and not only have you lost your soulmate before even getting married, but now you have to pay off his debt, too... and what about his estate and life insurance? Does it go to you? If not, you could be in big trouble if the absolute worst happens.

Again, I don't know if anyone's brought up this particular scenario, but I thought I'd throw my 2 cents in there... and hope that it didn't horribly offend someone. Just being rational :)
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
2gifts,

You wrote, No, I did not know that you didn't mean it the way I read it. Sorry for the misinterpretation.

I'm sorry if I was a bit confrontational. As I'm sure you can understand, I have specific reasons for my beliefs on this subject and can get pretty strident about them.

Obviously, I don't think every marriage is mismatched. I also think you should share the income and expenses evenly based on the income produced by both parties. But keeping finances separated makes sense for the same reason you wouldn't want to let a younger, available sister move in with you and your husband. While the sister situation might work out fine, you'd be foolish to put temptation in front of your husband unless there's a good reason for it. While I'm sure most of the time joint accounts work out just fine, it just seems to make sense to me to avoid the situation in the first place.

Also, The example I cited about the wife with the clunker while the husband drove a new BMW was true, and I do know how they managed their finances because all she did was complain about it ad nauseum. She resented very much the fact that he made several times what she did [he also had a PH.D, so he had worked to get his large paycheck], and that the only way she could have anything was if she bought it. Clearly, this system of yours and mine did not work for them. I do believe they eventually divorced.

It sounds to me like they were destined to divorce. Clearly she resented his additional income and he wasn't willing to share. They should never have married in the first place.

Even so, I should point out that for years I've complained about my XSO's spending ad nauseum; but she was never the one with the big paycheck. Even after I "cut her off" she spent money like crazy. Perhaps what the wife in your example was really complaining about wasn't that she never got anything; but that he was always squandering his income? Anyway, just idle speculation.

Also, That's a good way to do it, but I have not yet seen a couple do the division like that when they do not comingle their finances. I've always seen things like each putting in some percentage into the joint account according to percentage of total income they both brought in. I can remember going out to dinner with some friends to celebrate our anniversaries as they were a week apart, and it just struck me as odd that we split the check with them, but they each then split the check between them and paid for their own dinner. They did not pay for anything together. He paid the mortgage and she paid the utilities. I don't think they're married anymore, either.

Hum... I suppose they were very uptight over their own stash of money? It sounds like they were unwilling to share with each other. They should have traded off periodically. Of course, they could have had deeper issues they couldn't deal with.

Anyway, I would avoid any joint accounts if I could. Certainly I would apply that rule hard and fast to liability accounts, with the possible exception of a mortgage. Joint assets are a little less problematic; but I'd avoid them too, when they're not absolutely necessary. That said, I can see why it would be easiest to have a joint checking account with your spouse as it can make funds transfers easier. (BTW: My credit union lets me do a transfer to my XSO's account at the same institution electronically and vise-a-versa.) I just wouldn't put my personal cash/savings in that joint account.

And, In what you describe where people split income and expenses including if there is only one breadwinner, that sounds a lot like putting it all in one pot and having an allowance. But in that case, I don't understand how the finances are not comingled.

Yes, it does. It's just a structural issue. By having a barrier between what's yours, and what's your spouses, you can avoid some of the, "Well, that's half mine too" syndrome. (You know, where one spouse is trying to save for something and the other wants that money for something right now.) Also, splitting liability accounts in many states means that you can not unilaterally obligate your spouse to a debt without his/her knowledge or permission.

Finally, I think I'm just being dense. I also think I'm very glad that I married my husband. Just call me blessed.

You're blessed.

- Joel
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Not only might you break up, but what would happen if he died?

Thank you for mentioning it. Yes, that is a very good question. He actually has two life insurance policies totaling about $500k of which I am the sole beneficiary. We also have the house going to me; we worked this out with our lawyer when we first bought it. So, God forbid, if something were to happen to him, I would not be upset over the $3200 left of his debt that I took on.

As for the numerous other posts about marriage changing everything: I'm sure you're right. I'd like to think nothing will change, but how can I know it until I've done it? I'm thankful to all of you who've been very honest with me.

As far as merging finances, the only debt we have together is the house. Our cars and credit cards are in separate names, and will forever stay that way. We have a joint checking, which I use to pay the bills, and he uses his personal account for fun money (his allowance) and the mortgage. When I transfered the original debt from him to my CC I did not mind because he had covered our rent while we were finishing college, and is now covering the mortgage. So I didn't worry about it, if anything I still felt like I owed him. But generally speaking we share everything. There is no "mine" and "yours," only "ours."

When I originally posted it was because I felt resentful that he had added more debt after I had transfered his old debt, not the old debt itself.

Thanks for the concern everyone! That's why I love the Fool :)

laura



Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 6
I doubt very much I can think of any compelling reasons why people should merge their finances after getting married. I think it's mostly just a matter of convenience. Instead of having to ask my DH to pitch in his share of all our shared expenses, and trying to figure out what that share ought to be, I just pay the joint expenses out of our joint money. Sometimes he contributes more, sometimes I do. In the past my small but reliable paycheck kept us going when his income was very irregular, but extra stability from two incomes doesn't require that finances be merged, so that's not really an argument.

I guess to me it doesn't make much difference trusting my husband with my money as with my, ahem, health (insofar as he could take part in actitivities that could negatively impact it) or with physical vulnerability (I have to sleep sometime, and what if I married a homicidal maniac) or with my kid (probably the hardest one). But every marriage is different, and some people want to stay with a spouse that is irresponsible with money and do the money divorce thing. I don't think I could do that. If I couldn't trust the DH with money, well, I don't think I'd trust him enough to sleep with him. (Either zzzz sleep or the sex kind of sleep.)

I do know you don't have to be married to someone to have them use and abuse you financially. You don't even have to have merged your finances. They just have to be an amoral snake in the grass thief. My sister-in-law had a boyfriend who would ask her for her half of the rent, steal "his" half of the rent out of her purse, and she wondered why she couldn't save any money. He'd also use her credit card despite it having a picture of her on the front in a big hat with a big flower in front --i.e., clearly not him. If he'd had any sort of brains, he probably would have stolen her identity to open new cards. (If I ever run into him again, I'll happily pound him into the ground, but I'll have to stand in line behind my DH, his dad, her other two sisters, and her mother, for starters.)

I think that even if you don't merge finances, you have to have some idea of what your spouse is doing with his or her money. Maybe they have a gambling problem, or they're laundering money for the mob, or they have a secret quilting obsession -- I guess I just don't believe in secrets that might hurt one's spouse. And if you are being irresponsible with money, it helps a lot to change if you have someone to be accountable to, like a spouse (or this board :-)).

JMHO.


--Booa
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 5
I already posted on this, but it's very interesting, so I wanted to say one more thing.

When you merge finances, you are certainly putting your assets at the disposal of the less-thrifty partner, but sometimes less-thrifty is not well-defined. My DH is an electronics ho, if he weren't married to me, he'd buy, I don't know, whatever was shiniest at Radio Shack that week, when he got paid, and then not be able to pay rent two months later when his income stream went unstable again (if I weren't around). Me, I love to buy presents. I love to give people things. There was a little girl crying in a fast food restaurant the other day, sitting with her brother, waiting for her dad to finish work. I gave her a pen, paper to draw on, my bracelet and my hair stick. (It was a very inexpensive bead bracelet, just so y'all don't think I'm completely nuts.) If it was up to me, all my friends and family would get faboo presents for Christmas and their birthdays and whatever random occasion I could think of.

So, when my DH wants to spend too much on a liquid nitrogen cooled overclocked dual processor computer, my job is to say, "No." When I want to go nuts at Christmas and buy everyone silver-plated toasters, his job is to say, "No." And this actually works pretty well. He is better at saying no than me, but I am getting better (the six computers in my bedroom are a good incentive.) :-)

To say that one of us is more spendy than the other would be misleading. We both have spendy tendencies, just in really different areas. (And God help us if we ask the other person to say no in the area where they like to spend money, that's how I ended up with a really nice laptop I couldn't afford on my allowance, two years ago, because the DH was like, You know, for a mere $500 more, you can have an active TFT screen...) And when the DH wants to buy clothes for himself, he has to rein himself in, 'cause I'm happy to break the bank (that's how he ended up with a super-sweet interview suit we couldn't really afford, sigh).


--Booa (clothing enabler)
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
Personally, I think you should never merge finances. At the very least you should resist the urge to merge finances. Even after you're married, you should resist, fighting tooth and nail and you should only cave in the case where merging finances actually enables you to make some life-altering purchase, like buying a home. Even then, I'd only do it after much soul-searching.

With all due respect, I completely disagree with that. However, I do feel this is a topic that needs to be evaluated for each specific person and couple and may not be the best option for some people.

When I married my DW, we made a commitment to each other. Maybe I am old fashioned or naive but I expect this to be a lifelong commitment. As such, we have joined our two independent lives into one relationship, which includes our finances.

dt
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
...so he isn't the one with the problem at all. It's me. I feel guilty because this past year with me working part time he's basically supported me.

Even if it is truly only you who has the problem, the two of you need to figure out why you feel this way (upbringing, etc.). He needs to understand, as much as he can, how strongly you feel about this--doing a methodical and unemotional analysis of why you feel this way should help. You need to understand, as much as you can, how completely clueless he is about why you would feel this way because he's told you otherwise and therefore there is no logical reason to think this. (My husband is an engineer and VERY easy-going about everything; I was a teacher and VERY up-tight about everything--and talking about anything was painful. We've had the situation you describe about a lot of things.)

Keep in mind that it's typically the "little" things like this that will eventually destroy a marriage.

Kathleen
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Allow me to waaayyy oversimplify:
Move his debt = $3,600 x %13.5 = $891 /2 = $445
Move your debt = $3,600 x %10.5 = $378 /2 = $189
(I divided by 2 at the end because you 6months 0 apr)
The difference is something around $256

So, I know the equation is way more complicated, but it sounds like insurance that you don't ultimately eat his whole debt (because of death or breakup), will cost you somthing like $246 in interest savings.

So, if you truly get married and share your finances for the rest of your life, you've lost $246. However, you can sleep at night and be less resentful, as well as be insured against eating $3,600 of his debt for the low-low cost of $246.


A view from the other side:

This post is especially interesting to me, cause I find myself in situation very similar to your DH.

My girlfriend and I have been together a little more then 3 years. She's just finished college and is making a decent salary and wants to start contributing to MY debt. Our marriage is also all-over-but-the paperwork, but we refuse to rush into the ceremony for the sake of combining finances.

Something (I think it's pride or some macho-provider thing) keeps me telling her to keep her money for herself, and let me get through my debt alone. I've made significant progress in the last year or so, and think I'm only another year or two from complete financial freedom.

However, her argument is that she helped accrue the debt (I paid for every date, vacation, and miscellaneous expense while she finished her degree) she should help pay it off. Also, she feels pretty strongly that it's in her best interest for me to have my debt gone as soon as we can both afford it. She is drooling over the payments I'm making to credit cards as a savings for our future together.

She has NO debt at all. She attributes this to my willingness to handle mutual expenses while she was in college. I think her parents helping with tuition, her own discipline, and her part-time jobs has more to do with her debt freedom than me sneaking out to fill up her tank if she ever drove to visit me.

It sounds like folks think I'm doing the right thing by not accepting her money for my debt. I just hope my stubborness isn't adversely affecting our combined financial future.




Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Ann

There are lots of thoughtful comments here. obviously different approaches work for different people. when your final decision is made make sure you both have input into it. The more you (an individual)learn about all aspects of financial life the more likely you will be to get the control of your (you and SO/husband's) finances, savings, investments etc. Just always keep him informed so he feels included in the decision, and on ocassion let him make a decision, even if it a poor one.

Being selfish is not necessarily a bad thing. In taking care of your self you are better able to take care of those you care about.

Remember when those debts are paid off just keep collecting those snowballs for your savings. Enough snowballs will make an avalanche, and you'll be home free.

Best of luck in the marriage. He will eventually feel very lucky that he has someone who takes responsibility of the family wealth.

Ivy
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Hi

My wife and I have been at this game since we got married, and I certainly wish that I had had the where-with-all and self-awareness not to accept time after time my wife's debt. Now is the time for dialogue, and for you to hold firm. That's not easy because you will feel like a schmuck, but in the long-run, it will be worth it. I don't know how my story is going to turn out, but I do know this. If there'd been more dialogue and working together, we would not be where we are now, that is in debt up to our ears and a shaky relationship hat we're trying to build.

T.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
There's another issue beside this debt that DH has run up and whether you should take any of it on personally. What about the mortgage -- is it a joint asset? If so, then he is creating an asset for you at the same time you are taking on a liability of his. You can do the math: how does the equity in the jointly owned house compare to the debt that you may also decide to share?

From a financial standpoint, if they're equal then you should feel better about taking on his debt, since you're also gaining a share of an asset that he is creating. From an emotional standpoint, you may also feel better because it's not a one-way street for you.

As long as he has stopped creating debt, this would be my analysis. If, however, you have any concerns that he might revert to credit card dependency, then you have a long-term disconnect that you both need to consider carefully.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 6
Laura,

Windyelliott is absolutely and utterly correct.

Do not comingle your funds before you are married. In most states you will have no protections other than what you might have as a roommate, which is to say contract rights. If you don't get it in writing, you can mostly kiss it good bye should you break up.

In addition, if you commingle funds and debts before marriage, if you ever get divorced it might be considered a non-marital asset.

I have a client whose now ex-wife will inherit $10 million. Her father gifted each of them $20,000 and instructed his daughter to put her share down on the downpayment on the house which they bought before mariage and to let him pay for the wedding out of his $20,000.

3 years later they are getting divorced. Guess what? She is getting her $20,000 back out of the house, off the top, because it is her NON-MARITAL MONEY. He is flabbergasted. His $20,000, however, is gone - poooof. He spent it on an asset with no residual value - the wedding ceremony. He is fuming. So don't just non-chalantly commingle funds or start acting as if all the money and debt is both of yours until after your married.

But even then, after you are married, it will be your credit rating, not his that will get damaged if no payments are made. And worse, should a divorce ever occur, it will still be debt in your name, even if the court orders him to pay it. The court has no power to tell the credit card company to take the debt out of your own name. So there are consequences. I'm right now handling a contempt where the husband promised to pay off $7,000 in credit card debt on her card in the parties settlement agreement from their divorce. 6 months later my client gets a surprise collection notice from the company. Her credit will be hurt, all I can do is stop the bleeding and throw the bum in jail until he pays. The bum is gonna pay or spend the next month or two in jail and will probably end up reimbursing my client for most of my fees. Either way I get paid, so it is a good result for the attorney, and a necessary expense for the client, but one you'd be much better to avoid.

So just some fair warning about credit debt whether your married or not married - It is always a stickler if anything happens in your relationship and you don't have sufficient marital assets to pay off the marital debt, if your not married the result is even worse.

I wonder, why he can't he take on some 0% or low interest cards himself. He makes more money than you. Would seem to make it more equitable if you guys could disburse the debt between the two of you if you need to make balance transfers.

But I'm just cynical, its my business.

Tinker
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Laura,

I don't think you are being selfish, just smart. Even if you were legally married, I'd still be careful putting all of the debt into one spouse's name. Putting the debt all onto the cards of one spouse would artifically inflate the debt to limit ratio of that spouse thereby making their credit look poorer. Depending on your cards, this could cause them to see you as at a higher risk and raise your rates. If you keep the debt split up among you, there would be more reasonable debt to limit ratios for each of you.

This is one of the things I've tried to keep balanced between myself and DH. Usually I'm more proactive about looking for lower rates, and occasionally move some of his debt to one of my cards. I've started to be more careful about this since I don't want my creditors raising these low rates that I've worked hard to get.

I think your best bet is for him to look for low rate offers to transfer his MBNA to, and maybe he can transfer some of your high rate debt as well, since it used to be his.

Just adding another way to view the situation.
Good luck
DizChick
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
No, you're not selfish. Your uneasiness seems totally rational. Whether you're married or not, when you share finances you need a plan that you are both comfortable with, that also recognizes the unpredictable future. If you take on someone's debt, it is legally yours. You could lose your job in six months. One of you could decide to break up. He could get hit by a bus. If you transfer his debt to you, no matter what happens, that debt is YOURS. Plus you have your own debt and you're not making that much money.

How about a more systematic division of expenses that takes into consideration:
- what you agree to consider joint expenses and what is separate
- what each of you will contribute to he joint pool. It seems logical that the person who earns more should contribute more, but that's not always the best solution.
- everyone's need to have personal money that doesn't go into the joint pool.

My own feeling is that debt accumulated before the marriage or relationship began should be the financial responsibility of the person who incurred the debt. It's clean, it's clear, it keeps resentments in check and avoids a million useless arguments. The only possible exception might be student loans.
Print the post Back To Top