Dear Penny: My Boyfriend Is Deep in Debt. He Thinks It’s a Joke

Dear Penny,

My boyfriend of two-ish years live together with me in my suite. We cohabitate very well, but we’re looking to move out of state together at some degree.

The problem is, he has debt from credit cards from many years ago and owes the IRS taxes. He always touches it off like it’s a joke when I asked about about it.

I want to build a future with him, but I’m afraid his poor financial decisions will catch up to him. How do I get him to take this seriously?


Dear Lost,

Cohabitating well together isn’t just about splitting the hassles and concurring on what to watch on Netflix. Money is a huge part of the equation. But it’s easy to ignore just how important it is when you’re in the early stages of living together.

If you were sharing your apartment with a roommate, you probably wouldn’t care much about their finances. Your mutual financial purposes would be limited to paying rent and the electrical statement on time. I’m guessing you wouldn’t care if they were deep in debt or owed back taxes as long as they maintained shouldering their share of expenses.

But it’s different when you move in with a nostalgic marriage. You’re not just sharing a living space. You’re sharing your lives. One person’s poor decisions with coin has been becoming increasingly of a problem for the other person, specially when the goals and targets become bigger than next month’s rent. Yet earlier today, it’s easy to treat this as a roommate place and simulated their monetary catastrophe is a non-issue as long as they pay their portion of the bills.

The truth is, being in a relationship with someone whose finances are a disaster is depleting. Your money has to do twice the labour when only one of you is concerned about money. Every conjure you get feels like half a grow. You can reach a savings goal, yet you’ll feel like you exclusively stirred it halfway.

The issue isn’t so much about who contributes what. There are a number of marries who are equal collaborators, even though one person procreates much less or has major pay. But the problem here is that you’re taking on the heavines of worrying about money for two people.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of any surefire action to get your boyfriend to start taking his obligation seriously. But what you can do is show him that you’re taking it severely. Tell him what you said — that you want to build a future with him, but you’re afraid his finances will fix that difficult for both of you.

I’d be careful not to frame this in terms of his “poor financial decisions, ” though. I don’t know how your boyfriend wound up in this mess. Certainly, there are plenty of reasons a person could wind up with pay not because of their own misjudgments, but because live drew a whammy on them. Truly, the causes for your boyfriend’s debt don’t matter, though.

His past poor decisions aren’t what will spell doom for your relationship. The real problem is that he’s continuing to procreate poverty-stricken decisions. Building a future together will be impossible as long as he discusses his obligation like a joke.

Do you think your boyfriend knows what he needs to do and is simply putting it off? Or do you think he has no clue what to do? If he’s been avoiding this for a long time, it could be that joking is his way of disguising the fact that he’s stupefied of dealing with debt collectors and the IRS.

The other thing I want you to think about is whether your boyfriend is generally a responsible person. If he isn’t great with money but in general has things together, that’s much different than if his whole life is a mess.

If your boyfriend is open to working on his finances formerly he discovers how important this is to you, you could give him a couple of arrows. Sometimes when someone has lots of debt, they have no clue how much they owe and who they owe it to. Pulling your free credit reports at can be a good starting point. Most people can get approved for an IRS payment plan within a few minutes without talking to a human and spread the legislation over 72 months in many cases.

These are his questions, though. You can offer to help him get on the right track. But he needs to be the one to fix them.

If he’s willing to start addressing his indebtednes, that’s a good clue that he’s serious about your future together. But until he’s willing to take action, please don’t take this relationship any further by moving to another state together. Building a future with someone isn’t worth it if the weight of it rests entirely on your shoulders.

Robin Hartill is a guaranteed financial planner and a senior columnist at The Penny Hoarder. Send your dicey coin questions to AskPenny @thepennyhoarder. com.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which improves millions of readers worldwide pay and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal legends, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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